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June 24, 2010 - Image 48

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-06-24

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HEALTH & FITNESS

we

EAT RIGHT from page 46

ASKInYourFace.com articles will
explore issues of personal freedoms
and "how we enslave ourselves,"
says Kaplan. "This is an opportunity
to finally, at this point in our lives, find
a way to free and liberate ourselves
from the bondage of body image."
In 2005, the nation's pre-eminent
eating disorder clinic, the Renfrew
Center in Philadelphia, started a
treatment track geared to people
aged 30 and older. Between 2001 and
2003, that clinic reported a nearly 70
percent surge in admittance rates for
women older than 35. The Remuda
Ranch Treatment Programs in Arizona
saw a 400 percent increase in admis-
sion of patients older than 40 in the
last decade.
Research at Mayo Clinic in
Rochester, Minn., shows that a vibrant
desire among Baby Boomers to remain
young could be a trigger for midlife
eating disorders. Research shows
that 80 percent of women in America
don't relate to their bodies in a healthy,
respectful and embracing way.
Anorexia has one of the highest
death rates of any mental health ill-
ness — and it's one of the hardest to
treat. The biggest problem for adult
women facing eating disorders is that
it can go on for years — during which
time the behaviors wreak havoc on
physical anatomy and are potentially
fatal.

Eating Disorders

Of those diagnosed, Jewish girls
comprise 13 percent of the eating
disorder population in America. Many
more suffer unnoticed.
According to Mishpacha and
Hadassah magazines:
• Eating disorders are most com-
monly found in the upper social
classes of industrialized countries.
• Being pretty, slim and fit is highly
rated in the Jewish community, where
looks symbolize social acceptance,
self-discipline, self-control, sexual
liberation, assertiveness, competitive-
ness and class.
• Dieting in many religions
— including Judaism — has become
a cultural preoccupation and it may
even be argued that eating disorders
are simply extensions of normal and
socially acceptable modes of behav-
ior.
"We are raised in a culture that
uses food to celebrate," Kaplan says.
"Our holidays are characterized by
an overabundance of food — or a
complete elimination of it, like on Yom
Kippur. And yet, we are surrounded
by the conflicting message of thin-
ness as the supreme ideal. Many of
the men we know, even some hus-
bands, fathers and brothers, prize
lanky blondes with stick-straight
hair and no hips — that's not Jewish
genetics at play. How can we ever

"Eating disorders are really not
about food or the burning desire
to lose those last few pounds or
attain a certain shape. This is
about issues that run much deeper
— shame, feeling unworthy,
disconnect and more."

- Beverly Price

measure up?"
The tension between a desire to
enjoy and exalt food and a desire to
be thin has created an epidemic of
eating disorders, according to Judith
Ruskay Rabinor, Ph.D., author of

Reclaiming the Body: Anorexia and
Bulimia in the Jewish Community.

Jewish women face unique challeng-
es and vulnerabilities, including:
• The role of food and meal time
in Jewish life. "For Jews, food has
always had multiple meanings of sur-
vival and resilience."
• Genetic predisposition. "For
Jewish women, whose genes predis-
pose them to being short and stocky,
rather than lean and lanky, making

peace with one's body is especially
challenging."
• Orthodoxy. "For young girls who
are unprepared to start families,
anorexia means a delay to puberty,
put off child-bearing and gain control
of their bodies when their lives are
out of their control."
• Assimilation: Dieting as a ritual of
female identity. "Many Jews struggle
with the tension between assimilat-
ing into mainstream American culture
while at the same time retaining a
sense of Jewish identity."
• Shame. "For many Jews, acknowl-
edging psychological problems such
as addictions, depression and eating
disorders carries a stigma."

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