Toilet Talk Newsletter
Fall 2016 Toilet Talk
By Laura Wysochi, UCC GA and Randi Scheiner, PhD and UCC Psychologist
Eating Disorders Across Cultures
This article is based on talks by Dr. Norman Kim and Dr. Nikki Rollo at Eating Awareness Committee Events in February 2016.
To many, the face of an eating disorder is that of a thin, middle class, adolescent European-American girl. However, a growing body of research indicates that eating disorders may be equally prevalent across different racial and ethnic populations. Such research prompts us to reconsider the stereotypes we may be unknowingly perpetuating.
Since research has historically focused on a very specific population developing eating disorders, therapist and the doctors may be uninformed about how ED can present differently in individuals from different backgrounds. For example, drive for thinness which is often associated with development of eating disorders may not be experienced by women that come from cultures that do not place as much value on being thin (Talleyrand, 2012). However, such women may still be at risk for developing eating disorders as ED are impacted not only by cultural standards of beauty, but also by anxiety level and genetic predisposition, among other factors. Individuals from different backgrounds may also experience certain vulnerabilities because of their cultural identities.
Research has indicated that there are concerns specific to women of color, for example, that may prompt them to developing disordered eating and eating disorders (Harris & Kuba, 1997). In our society, strict European American standards of beauty can be detrimental to all women, but may be particularly harmful to women of color whose appearance may not be at all reflected in this ideal. Furthermore, women of color may maintain different conceptions of ideal body size that do not align with westernized notions of beauty. Therefore, members of this populations have to navigate these different ideals, potentially leading them to experience significant distress and poor self-image. Fortunately, there are some steps all of us can take to promote health for ourselves and those around us.
1. Respect your own body and body diversity in general. You can do this by speaking positively about yourself, your appearance,and the people around you!
2. Be compassionate with yourself and others.
3. Aim to be flexible about food and eating. Remember that there are no good or bad foods. There is space for everything in a healthy diet!
4. Find joy in physical activity.
5. Challenge unrealistic cultural assumptions about beauty and health.
6. Be mindful that a lower weight is not necessarily correlated with being healthy.
7. Value lived experience over appearance.
The different between dieting and having an eating disorder is really the difference between wanting to look and wanting to be better.
Have you ever been on a diet and...
Spent more time thinking about it than anything else?
Loved it more than friends, family, school, work, hobbies, art, etc?
That is what it is like to have an eating disorder.
Dr. Norman Kim
Putting the Pieces Back Together: Healing From a Breakup
During the days and weeks after a tough breakup, it can be difficult to navigate the range of emotions and thoughts you're experiencing. While breakups are never easy, there are some things you can do to help yourself heal and move forward.
Reconsider Your Expectations
Most of us have the hope that our relationships will last. The truth is that most of us experience the end of a relationship at one point or another.
After the end of a relationship, if can be helpful to keep in mind that relationships, and breakups, serve as facilitators for our personal growth. We learn a lot from them and we do move on. Understanding this may not make the situation any less painful, but it can help you better understand what you gained from the relationship.
Catastrophic Thinking, and How It Prevents Us From Letting Go
Oftentimes after a breakup, we find ourselves ruminating over the situation. We wonder what we could have done differently, or how we could have been a better partner. To some extent this type of thinking is normal and may even be helpful in making sense of the breakup. However, catastrophic thinking, or worse case scenario thinking, can inhibit our ability to properly grieve and heal from a breakup.
Catastrophic thinking occurs when we ruminate about the worst possible scenarios. Some common examples of catastrophic thinking that occur soon after a breakup can include thoughts such as:
I'm not good enough.
It's all my fault.
I'll never meet anyone who likes me again.
I will never feel this way about anyone else.
Although it can be difficult to pull yourself out of catastrophic thinking, it is possible! One way to do this is to check in with yourself and ask the following questions:
What is the evidence for and against this thought/belief?
If a close friend or loved one were experiencing a breakup, would you really believe the catastrophic thought about their situation?
After some time has passes, it may also be helpful to try and look at things objectively. After a breakup, it's easy to look at the good things about your former relationship that you miss. However, every relationship has problems and being aware of the problems in your previous relationship can help you make sense of it and help you to move on.
Making Sense of Self Doubt
The end of a relationship can be a huge blow to your self esteem. You may find yourself thinking often about mistakes you made, times you hurt your former partner, or things you could have doe better. This is a natural part of a breakup, and it may be helpful to think about what you can learn from this relationship to be a better partner in the future.
However, dwelling on perceived failures and short comings can be a slippery slope, especially when you're going through a difficult time. In every relationship, people make mistakes that cause them to feel guilty. There are also times when something we do might upset or irritate a partner, but that does not mean that these habits or traits are inherently bad. As you move forward from your breakup. attempt to sort out what you could have done better while discerning what parts of your personality may have simply not been a good match for your former partner's.
Write It Out
Many people find that it is easier for them to express their feelings in writing. Think of a journal as a safe place where you can get all of your feelings out. Journaling provides the opportunity to observe your feelings and thoughts in a concrete way. Journaling can also be an outlet for confronting catastrophic thoughts.
Renew Your Friendships
When we are going through a hard time, that is when we need our friends the most! Though it is natural to want to isolate yourself when you're feeling down, reaching out to others can provide you with some of the support you need. It can also be immensely healing to be there for others-by focusing on your friendships and being there for your friends in return, you are help yourself heal.
Spend Quality Time Alone
Often our relationships, romantic and otherwise, serve as a protection against feelings of loneliness and isolation. After a breakup, the adjustment to spending more time alone can be difficult. However, as you move through your healing process and start to come to terms with the loss you've experiences, it can become quite empowering to spend time on your own. You can utilize this time to figure out more about yourself and to explore hobbies and interests that bring you joy.
It is important that you be realistic in your expectations after a breakup. A relationship that has been part of your life for months or years will take time to heal from. Be patient with yourself, and don't rush the healing process!
Spring 2016 Toilet Talk
By Laura Wysocki, UCC GA and Randi Scheiner, PhD and UCC Psychologist
How to Help a Friend with an Eating Disorder
Learn about eating disorders. If you are worried that a friend may be struggling with an eating disorder, the first step is to educate yourself about the causes and symptoms.
What are the signs of eating disorders?
Express your concerns in a non-judgmental way. When you do speak to your friend, it’s important to express yourself in a caring way. You should be firm and honest about what you see and what your concerns are, but don’t patronize them or criticize them.
Be prepared for defensiveness. Your friend may get very angry with you. Since the eating disorder may be an important coping mechanism, he/she may feel threatened that you are trying to take it away.
Know your limits and notify someone. It is helpful to take an active role in getting your friend help and information, such as medical care, counseling, nutritional counseling, and in some cases, parental involvement.
Be patient. Once your friend is in treatment, don’t force him/her to talk about his or her eating disorder, emotional issues or treatment. Do offer to listen, however, if he or she wants to talk.
It is important to remember that the habits surrounding eating disorders become firmly ingrained over time. For this reason, eating disorders cannot “go away” over the night. On the contrary, someone often has to go to counseling for some time before results become visible.
Be a good role model. Practice sensible eating, exercise, and self-acceptance in order to provide a healthy example for your loved one.
Remember that you cannot force someone to seek help, but you can be supportive, understanding, and informed about eating disorders and available resources.
Hints for Healthy Eating
One of the best ways to help a friend with disordered eating, is to set a good example by taking care of yourself. Understanding these basic nutritional guidelines can help get you started on the right path.
Eat every three to five hours. Eating throughout the day ensures that you feel full enough to carry out things you need to do, and also prevents you from bingeing on unhealthy, processed foods because you’re starving..
Eat the appropriate number of calories. For women, this means consuming approximately 2000 calories a day. Men should consume approximately 2600 calories a day. Check out www.choosemyplate.gov for more information.
There are no bad foods! While some foods should certainly be eating in moderation, there are no bad foods. Restricting your diet and trying to avoid certain foods (or food groups) can lead to bingeing, or other disordered eating habits.
Eat balanced meals. At each meal, have vegetables, a protein, and a starch.
How to Be Your Own Mentor
Many of us struggle with self criticism. How often are we more compassionate to others than we are to ourselves? We might think that we’re more motivated and successful when we’re hard on ourselves, but research has shown that the opposite is actually true; students tend to be less productive, or even give up when they are too hard on themselves and their expectations are too high. They are more successful when they are more encouraging.
Think back to your favorite teacher or coach growing up. How did this person motivate you? Was it through making rigid unrealistic demands? Probably not. Many of us feel most motivated by those who believe in us, and encourage us to keep trying.
In general, we learn more and perform better when we have a “growth” mindset—we acknowledge we have a learning curve, but we believe in ourselves and our ability to improve over time.
If you tend to be your own worst critic, there are steps you can take to develop more positive self talk.
1. Become more aware of your thought patterns
Start to become mindful of your own thoughts and the messages you tell yourself. Notice patterns in your self talk. Are you encouraging or are you critical?
In order to start to be more mindful, it can be helpful to think back to recent times in which you have experienced a lot of stress or anxiety. Usually, such feelings are prompted by events. However, it is how we interpret these events that ultimately leads to our emotional reactions. Try to look back at previous times of stress in order to assess your self talk in difficult situations.
2. Label your inner critic
Once you start paying more attention to the negative messages your critic is telling you, you will likely to begin to notice a theme. Here are common pitfalls (with examples) that people tend to experience:
3. Think of alternate thoughts
When you realize you are being overly critical of yourself, try to reframe your negative thoughts.
Think of examples of positive self talk by asking yourself some of the following questions
It is especially helpful to develop realistic expectations of one’s self. Some examples of more positive self talk can include:
4. Practice, practice, practice
Changing thoughts and behavior takes time! Be patient and continue practicing. It may feel unusual at first, but the more aware you are of how you think, and practice thinking more realistically, the more motivated you will be.
This article was written by Laura Wysocki and Randi Scheiner, PhD and was adapted from a presentation done by UCC Psychologist Kate Shinko at an Eating Awareness Committee event in Fall 2015. For more information about upcoming EAC events, please see our website at: https://www.binghamton.edu/counseling/services/eating-awareness/
Fall 2015 Toilet Talk
By Laura Wysocki, UCC GA amd Randi Scheiner, PhD and UCC Psychologist
Understanding Sexual Assault on College Campuses
Many students may not receive education about sexual assault before beginning their
college careers. In order to gain a better understanding of sexual assault on college
campuses, we interviewed interns from the 20:1 Sexual Assault Prevention Program,
20:1 Bystander Intervention Program, and Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program.
What do you think most college students fail to realize about sexual assault?
Creating Healthy Habits
In researcher Charles Duhigg's book The Power of Habit, the author explains the importance of habits, how habits are formed, and how we
can change our habits or create new ones in order to live healthier, more productive
How Our Habits are Formed
Habits are formed through an ongoing loop: First, there is a cue that tells your brain to carry out an activity that has become automatic. Then, there is a physical, mental, or emotional routine. Finally, there is a reward which helps your brain decide if this behavior is worth committing to memory in the form of a habit. Habits never completely disappear; they're encoded into the structure of our brain. This is why we don't have to relearn how to drive after going on vacation!An example of a habit all of us have (hopefully) formed is brushing our teeth. Each morning, we automatically place toothpaste on our toothbrush and go through the process of cleaning our teeth. As a reward, we get the refreshing feeling we've come to associate with this habit.
How to Create New Habits
Developing Better Study Habits
In order to gain a better understanding of how to form better study habits, we spoke to Alaina Ryan from the Binghamton University Discovery Center. She provided us with the following insights:
Plan Ahead: "At the start of each week, students can sit down and write a list of everything they need to get done that week: readings, homework assignments, making flashcards, studying, etc. The next step is to divide that list down into parts they can reasonably accomplish in one block of time. For some students that's 25 minutes, for other students it's 45 minutes. "