As I continue my search for comparative and complementary titles for my upcoming memoir Food Memories (see https://shadowartshealing.wordpress.com/2019/07/22/sacred-illness/), I have come across some interesting practitioners and authors who are shining a light on the “emerging epidemic” of eating disorders in mid-life. Margo Maine, PhD states in a recent article that “Although most cases still appear in adolescent girls and young women, an alarming shift has occurred—eating disorders are now on the rise among middle-age and older women. Between 1999 and 2009, inpatient admissions showed the greatest increase in this group, with women older than 45 accounting for a full 25 percent of those admitted in the U.S.”
While it is unclear whether these statistics are due to older individuals finally seeking treatment after years of struggling, or that the disorders are popping up “suddenly” due to mid-life crises, this is an interesting trend and one I am watching for information on. I certainly fall into this category, yep, I’ve reached the glorious older person stage (quite a miracle, actually). It is encouraging to see that there may be a new group of individuals sharing their experiences after possibly hiding what they’ve been going through due to shame of having a “young person’s disease.”
Two books that I’m particularly interested in reading are Midlife Eating Disorders: Your Journey to Recovery (Cynthia Bulik, PhD, 2013), and Pursuing Perfection: Eating Disorders, Body Myths and Women at Midlife and Beyond (Margo Maine, PhD, 2017). Both of these books are more guidebooks than memoir, but I feel they may be helpful and complementary books to those who may be attracted to my middle-aged eating disorder story.
From the Amazon page for Midlife Eating Disorders:
“In most people’s minds, “eating disorder” (ED) conjures images of a thin, white, upper-middle-class teenage girl. The ED landscape has changed. Countless men and women in midlife and beyond, from all ethnic backgrounds, also struggle with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, purging disorder, and binge eating disorder. Some people have suffered since youth; others relapsed in midlife, often after a stressor such as infidelity, divorce, death of a loved one, menopause, or unemployment. Still others experience eating disorder symptoms for the first time in midlife.
Primary care physicians, ob-gyns, and other practitioners may overlook these disorders in adults or, even worse, demean them for not having outgrown these adolescent problems. Treatments for adults must acknowledge and address the unique challenges faced by those middle-aged or older. Midlife Eating Disorders-a landmark book-guides adults in understanding “Why me?” and “Why now?” It shows a connection between the rise in midlife ED and certain industries that foster discontent with the natural aging process. It also gives readers renewed hope by explaining how to overcome symptoms and access resources and support. Renowned eating disorder specialist Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., helps partners and family members develop compassion for those who suffer with ED-and helps health professionals appreciate the nuances associated with detecting and treating midlife eating disorders.”
From the Amazon page for Pursuing Perfection:
“In Pursuing Perfection, authors Margo Maine and Joe Kelly explore the emotional, social and cultural factors behind the ongoing epidemic of disordered eating and body image despair in adult women at midlife and beyond. Written from a biopsychosocial and feminist perspective, Pursuing Perfection describes the many issues women encounter as they navigate a rapidly changing culture that promotes unhealthy standards for beauty and appearance. This updated and expanded edition (originally published as The Body Myth: Adult Women and the Pressure to Be Perfect) is a unique guide for anyone seeking practical tools and strategies for adult women looking to establish health and body acceptance.”
Is this an interesting topic to you? Are you or someone you know struggling with these challenges and find yourself among this demographic? What are your biggest struggles in finding yourself in mid-life with an eating disorder? I’d like to know, and if so, stay posted as I will be likely giving a more in-depth review of these books once I get my hands on them.