Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Mother’s Day Advice.

From the MFA, Boston, MA
I’m not your mother. But the mother in me wants to share some motherly thoughts. Won’t you indulge me in this on my annual holiday? 

Yes, I yearn to do motherly things like feed you—knowing full well that moving past your eating issues and your eating disorders takes way more than my cooking. I fantasize that I can have you all over for a meal and you can eat it and enjoy it without compensation, without unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. That you can see how safe it is to eat. If only it were this simple.

So instead I’m sharing some nurturing guidance, whether you are 20-something or in your 50s.

Indulging at a favorite cafe with my
mom and my son.
Words from your non-mother (when not acting as the Tiger Mom)

  • Give yourself permission.
  • Be forgiving.
  • Treat your body as you would expect your child or your sister should treat herself. Respect its limits—don’t exercise when your body isn’t up for it. And please fuel it.
  • Be realistic. Setting the bar too high with unrealistic expectations is a recipe for disaster. You will never be able to healthily sustain such changes.
  • Slip. Then pick yourself up.  Yes, it’s unrealistic to believe that slips don’t happen, that they shouldn’t happen, that you should know and do better. So move on. The real test of a slip is your ability to stand back up and move forward. Real progress is having fewer slips that are less severe. Real progress is being able to learn from your slips and work on prevention for next time—without beating yourself up.
  • Find a Mom. No, it doesn’t have to be your mom (don’t forget—I said be realistic!) Rather, explore your resources, your supports, and ask for help. Yes, you can do it.

Are you my mother?
  • Hope, even if you don’t yet believe, that recovery is possible. Because this old Mom knows that it is.
  • Trust that things can and will get better. Gotta love Ingrid Michaelson’s song Gonna Be OK for the inspiration.
  • Appreciate what you do have—what’s in place in your life, as well as with your eating. Check out Noa’s Homemade Religion which truly moves me to appreciate.

Enjoy, dear readers! And please let me know you're reading!


  1. Still reading...
    Trying to figure out what my next move is as far as "recovery" goes...

  2. love your blog! thanks for doing what you do. happy mothers day.

  3. Thanks, Lori. That was really nice to read :)

  4. Great post! I so needed to hear that today.

  5. I went to a doctor today, and I walked out of the office thinking, "I have got to write to Lori about this experience." So, this is only the second time I've seen this doctor. She admits that she's never worked with an ED client before, but, she's sweet and she really does her best. She orders the right blood tests and wants to monitor my bone density, etc. She knows I have a long history of AN and she considers it her job to keep tabs on that (good). She directly asks me how I'm doing in regards to ED things. She flat out asks: have you thrown up your food since i've last seen you. Are you eating 3 meals a day? Are you getting your period? (I think this is good. It would be a lot harder to slip through the cracks with this doctor than with other doctors). She congratulates me on not losing weight over the past four months (ok, so - good attempt. it's good that she watches my weight. not necessarily good that she congratulates me on my weight, but I dont' react badly to people praising a healthy weight so it's all good). She even asked me to tell her exactly what I ate yesterday (I think this is great! She really is trying!). But then... it started to go downhill... After I tell her what I ate yesterday, she shares her opinion with me. Her opinion on carbs. She asks me if I'm worried I'll eventually gain too much weight (full disclosure, my weight is healthy but low and my weight is totally stable and I have not had a hard time keeping my weight from getting too high in the past). I tell her that, yeah, I hope my metabolism doesn't suddenly break and make me gain tons of weight. she then says, well, if I'm worried about that, seh would eat less carbs. She points out how I ate carbs at every meal yesterday. She says that women have a complex relationship to carbs and people sometimes eat too many carbs and they gain weight and get frustrated. She pointed out how if I were to eat less carbs, I run much less a risk of gaining too much weight and ... I quote.... "when you eat less carbs, it can help you feel better about yourself." Um. Woah. so then she went through everything I ate yesterday and told me how I could have eaten less carbs. PB sandwich in the AM? I could have had one slice of bread, not two (for breakfast). A panini? I didn't need to eat all the bread - I could have torn some of the bread off. A big salad would have been better for me than a panini. Pizza? I don't need to eat the crust? I couldn't help it... I started crying in front of her. I thought I would have been able to handle such false information bettter, but I guess recovery is still too new to me for me to be able to handle someone picking my food apart and telling me that i'm going to gain weight by eating how I'm eating. (There is no evidence for this. I've stayed in a 3 pound range for the past ... long time). Oh, and also, she knows I see a dietitian! (And, yes, I already called her...) Anwyay, my doctor is so sweet and so so well intentioned... but it just didn't work out....

    1. Oh, Laura, I'm so sorry! i'm struggling to contain my response into a short comment, so I will immediately get to work on a post on this! Coming soon!

    2. I'm so sorry that happened to you, and good for you for realizing that what that doc told you is a load of bull.

      I've seen one or two doctors that did not specialize in ED... it's never a good idea! I struggled with bulimia in the past and one of those docs asked me about how often I would binge/purge and told me to "try not to do that any more." !$%#)*#@&#. Stick to seeing people that are used to dealing with ED as much as possible.

    3. Thanks for the support, Anon!

  6. I often feel like members of my treatment team (you included) are "motherly". In some ways it feels a little silly to say that, but in others it seems so obtrusively obvious. Afterall, you all take care of us. You try to keep us safe. You try to teach us to care enough about ourselves to actually TAKE care of ourselves. And you you practically get "in the ring" with us to fight against ed. Fighting alone is not an option. Even those of us who are "grown up" still need caring for (though we care not admit that), and need to know that someone will do this for us when we cant, or when our own mothers aren't able to. Not because our mothers dont love us, or because they caused our ED, but because sometimes we won't even allow it. I recently read an article by Joanna Poppink who described that ed patients go through an actual phase where they see at least one of their treatment providers as maternal, motherly, a mother to them, and that can be an important crossroads in treatment. Anyway, this was probably more than you bargained for. I especially liked this post because it shows your readers and your patients that you are real, human, a mother, and that you feel that we are all worth caring for.