Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Body Image and Celiac Disease Part Two: Slim is in, but to what point?

In my last post on Body Image and Celiac Disease  I asked these questions:

1. Do you think our American culture's views on Body Image and weight influences and/or hinder our treatment and/or diagnosis of Celiac Disease? 
2.  If you have Celiac Disease, did such perceptions have any impact on your seeking treatment and/or receiving and diagnosis?

Of the few responses I got it seemed that people did feel that the topic is thought provoking, and that body image can potentially play a role as I suggested. On good comment said: 

"Definately thought provoking. I must admit I looked my best in jeans when I was suffering from symptoms of Celiac, having lost a lot of weight in a very short period of time, but I was ALWAYS pursuing a reason (diagnosis) for why I was feel...ing unwell. I may have looked slimmer, but I didn't want to get off the couch! Yes, in America "slim is in", but I just can't imagine someone delaying their diagnosis to remain thin. But then I can't imagine putting my fingers down my throat to you know what"

I thought this was a perfect comment, for many of us we may 'look our best' after losing some weight from CD and we may like that but not feel our best. This is the point I was trying to make, and it flows very well into my story. 

MY STORY: As I said in this post, when I was beginning to suffer from celiac disease symptoms my first symptom, before I lost the ability to keep food down and became depressed and fatigued, was that I lost a lot of weight in a short period of time. In reflecting on this after the workshop I discussed in the first part of this series I came to a startling conclusion. 
 I was always a chubby kid, having gone through puberty early and retaining that body fat. At the same time, I was also most likely maintaining fat because I was malnourished, but not to the point that my body started losing weight. For the first 2 or so months of the weight loss I put off seeking out a diagnosis because for once I was skinny, I was getting complements and attention that I had never received before. I knew it was not healthy to loose as much weight as I did in THAT short of a period but it felt nice to get compliments, to be called beautiful by someone other than my family or close friends. However, my symptoms increased quickly, with fatigue, depression, anxiety, the inability to keep food down and hair loos quickly following suite. I felt however, that the compliments allowed me to ignore the progression of the disease, to a point... When things got really bad, I did not hesitate to seek a diagnosis, although it took years to get a proper one, but I likely sought one later than I should have because for once I was happy with my body. 

This is where I think the Cultural Body Image piece comes in. Because I grew up viewing skinny models, and sometimes being called fat because I was big boned and busted (although not overweight) I came to crave those compliments I got in the first few months of my first display of symptoms. I let things go further than they should have before seeking a diagnosis. By the point I sought one I had lost 50lbs in 5 months and wasn't keeping food down, instead of recognizing that that rapid of a weight loss means that something is wrong. Maybe it was because I was newly in college, and almost 20, that I felt this way. Regardless of why, I doubt I am the only one who has encountered this situation. 

The above  leads me to another issue in the Body Image and Celiac Disease realm: the potential comorbidity (dual diagnosis) of eating disorders in those with Celiac Disease, or the assumption that an eating disorder is truly the issue at hand. 

In the next post on this topic I will look further into this link, as 
there is much research, but again I want to know your thoughts 
before doing so. So, share with me: 

1. Did anyone ever think you had an eating disorder before your 
diagnosis of celiac disease? How did they, or did they not, approach 
you if they thought you did? 

2. What do you think are the similarities between eating disorders
and celiac disease? 

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