Monday, 29 December 2014

The Slimmers' Disease

For reasons still best known to themselves, some in FA are determined to continue erasing the leading part medical professionals played in winding up the wretched 'obesity' crusade. Doctors know the score though, they used to call anorexia nervosa-the slimmersdisease.

Medics have gone back on what they know. When the internet began to be used to elucidate fat experience(s), one of the few genuine responses to this was-"Why would doctors lie about this?"

It's a question I asked myself in a slightly different way at the end of my dieting days. I never quite resolved it, I just knew I had to turn back.

This coinage seemed to be jettisoned through the pressure of activism, though I've wondered more recently whether this turnaround was mere convenience, given the advance of the slimmers' disease as the prevention/treatment/cure for 'obesity.'

The rationale was it "trivialized" anorexia something that's really important to avoid apparently;
“There’s a real fear of trivialising eating disorders,” says Sabine, who is 24 and works for a startup.
For "eating disorders" read anorexia and perhaps bulimia. There's no fear of trivialising disorders associated with weight gain. Really though, removing the connection between dieting and anorexia made the latter inexplicable. That has always struck as a ruthless desire to assert ideology over the prospect of warning those susceptible to AN at a point when they're most able to avoid going there. Nothing says trivial more than that, imho.

I can't say whether this has cost lives or not, but it definitely felt like it might at the time. People have told me they went through anorexia and still don't really don't have a clue what it is. 

Nor does honest connection get in the way of showing that when anorexia reaches its compulsive, self generating phase, it is not a choice.

On the contrary, one could say billions of people round the world, throughout the ages practising anorexia but overwhelmingly failing to become anorexic makes it patently obvious that succumbing to the process is about innate susceptibility rather than intent.

So why is a life sentence of dieting really chasing anorexia?

We were sold calorie restriction on the basis that say; 50lbs of fat =whatever the calories in a pound of fat was supposed to be, x 50. That gave the total of how much energy you needed to waste in order to slim down. This didn't realize the body doesn't passively permit this wastage.

Rather than find a way around this, it was decided that one should seek to make this life of waste, permanent- or "maintenance" as its dubbed. That's really when reversing weight became about chasing a pathological condition.
Anorexics restrict their calorie intake, often in combination with increasing their calorie output.
Dieters restrict their calorie intake, often in combination with increasing their calorie output.
The difference is not in; intent, safeness, medical approval, judiciousness of character or inherent talent for moderation, it's something about how the individual's body reacts to calorie restriction/increased expenditure, full stop.

So what is this difference in reaction?

Many anorexics have told us that they love food and eating. What adds authenticity to this seeming paradox is a mirror image. I a former hyperphagic, got no pleasure from eating as long as I had that disorder.

Many if not all anorexics are troubled by hunger, indeed, hyperphagia, an excess of it. Which builds up as they deny hunger. Hunger of course is MIA when it comes to the current explanation of weight.

The desire to cast eating as a habit made up of conscious decision making, means hunger has lost its place as the reason and trigger for eating. It's claimed people don't recognize it, or that its "fake." Given hunger's anatomically based, that is, generated by your body, not responding to it is basically blocking a physiological signal. A bit like ignoring the urge to sleep at the end of your day is blocking biological signalling.

All things being equal, this tends to strengthen it. Just like if someone appears not to hear your request, you tend to repeat it, often, louder. Continual blocking can also weaken or dampen it down, exhaust it vigour.

Ironically, throughout having an excess of hunger, I was always able to fast-stop eating entirely. Dieting was a bust-responding to hunger, but not properly was intolerable. But not eating at all? I could always psyche myself up for that whether immediately, or over days, or weeks. The longest it took me to succumb to-just stop-was 3 months!

It was the starting eating again and the pitiless avalanche of signalling that made this ultimately futile and rather unpleasant.

So, yes, blocking hunger can curtail it, demoralizing the possibility of response. But that doesn't make hunger go away.

Anorexics think none of us grasp the potency of its hold, but actually, by detaching their condition from its source, calorie restriction-note I didn't add dieting, that's the most likely manifestation/precursor of it, but often things like illness can trigger a bout of AN-shows out of their own context they don't either.

Fat people assume the same as anyone, that we aren't dieting-even when we are. So when we decide to stop trying. We assumed that would be nada. I still remember how I felt, "At last, I'm going to do something I'm good at." Not dieting.

To mine and everyone's surprise, it was harder than imagined. Often much harder than going along with dieting [or trying to]. It's a lot of the reasoning behind the famous "No diet talk rule" of FA blogs.

That it turned out a habit of living around trying to start a diet, stay with a diet, get back on a diet can get so overwhelming, without you being aware was a real eye opener. You literally have to avoid/curtail reference to, or thinking about dieting. Or you can find yourself slipping back into that mode, without being consciously aware of it. That's compulsion indeed.

If I hadn't utterly exhausted this avenue over the course of at least 17 years, I'm not entirely sure I'd have managed-the urge to diet can usurp your conscious reasoning. Like, you can find yourself going through your history of dieting and what it has cost you, then immediately feel yourself examining the idea of going on a diet as if that didn't happen.

I was totally oblivious. So insidious is the creep of even sub anorexia, calorie restriction. And that perhaps gives the biggest clue to what anorexia really is in essence.

The compulsion to block hunger.

I won't trivialize it by describing it in terms of faddiction. It's a compulsion, an imbalance in some aspect of ones nervous system or its functioning.

The difference between a dieter and an anorexic is that whereas the former blocks their hunger as a conscious act. In the anorexic that takes on a life of its own. It gets stronger and stronger developing a self sustaining momentum. This continually jousts with hunger-rivals and in the most serious cases, outstrips it completely. 

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