0:00:00 – Speaker 1
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0:00:33 – Speaker 2
Today on the show, we are going to be talking about eating disorders. This is a really big topic. It’s a show we’ve been wanting to do for a while and we’ve been praying for the right expert, and we have one of our licensed professional counselors here from our advisory council. Her name is Jamie Mershawn. She’s no stranger to our show. Welcome back, jamie. Thank you. It’s so great to be here And for anybody listening who hasn’t heard one of your shows before, tell us a little bit about yourself.
0:01:02 – Speaker 3
Sure, i am a local San Antonio LPC. I’m a wife and a mama to three little gals, and so I’m plugged into our church and our community and I just have a heart for counseling and working with families. So it is an honor to be here. I have such a huge heart for nextTalk and everything they do, so thank you for having me.
0:01:22 – Speaker 2
Well, we love your expertise that you give us in all sorts of areas, but today we really want to hone in on eating disorders And I think we first need to define that for our listeners.
0:01:33 – Speaker 3
Yes, absolutely So. I’m just going to go with the basic kind of textbook thing and then we can dive deeper into it. But by definition, it’s defined as an illness in which a person experiences severe disturbance and disturbance in their eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. So when you think about that, you hear three pieces So it’s a disturbance in their eating behavior and it’s related to their thoughts and emotions. So it’s behavior, it’s thoughts, emotions. It can often be about control, perfection or temporary comfort, and so, with that said, it consumes our mental energy by worrying about our next meal or regretting what we just ate, and so, if not treated, it can be highly, it can be fatal, and it can mess with fertility and even medical issues.
0:02:23 – Speaker 2
So it’s not something we should take lightly, absolutely not. This should be just as serious as having a child who is cutting or using drugs or alcohol Like we need to be on alert here.
0:02:34 – Speaker 4
On the other, side of that, though, can we step back for just a second, because I think sometimes, as moms or as parents, we hear something like that, and then we can go jump on it. Sure, when kids say, or when I say oh, i’m an emotional eater, yes, explain. When we turn the corner, when do we need to really hone in and say, okay, we need some professional help there.
0:02:57 – Speaker 3
Yeah. So I think when you start like, the more we know our kids, the more we know a baseline, meaning we know what their normal behavior is, we know what their patterns are, we know how they normally eat. So the more in tune we are with them, the more we have a baseline of what their normal is, that’s so good And so once so you can go off of their baseline. But when you start to see them like, okay, they’re skipping meals more, or they’re throwing away more food, or they’re isolating socially, just things that aren’t them which will go into further of what that’s going to look like But once we start noticing that kind of stuff, then it’s already on our radar Like something, something’s not matching up here, or let me, and reoccurring, i’m suing to Reoccurring Not just like a stressful moment or season, but ongoing.
Yes, yeah, and just kind of even making note of things, because when you do sit down and have that conversation with your child, it’s helpful to have just like hey, i noticed last week this happened And then this happened. So that way it’s not really an emotional conversation, it’s just based on like patterns, it’s based on things that you’ve observed, and so it’s harder for a child to get emotionally invested when you’re going off of just facts.
0:04:08 – Speaker 2
That’s a good point. That’s really really good. Yeah, that can cross to any topic, absolutely So I think that’s really good Break down for me, like what kinds of eating disorders are we talking about? Yeah, can you break that down for me, because I hear eating disorder and sometimes I don’t understand all of it.
0:04:25 – Speaker 3
Sure, traditionally when we talked about eating disorders, we would think of anorexia, which is underweight, or we would think of bulimia, which is the binging and the purging. So anorexia typically is, you’re underweight, and bulimia you’re not always underweight, because you can maintain it more. You might be binging and then throwing up, so you don’t necessarily look underweight, so it’s easier to hide. But we are now seeing two other eating disorders that are coming into the light more, and one of them is binge eating, which has often been there, but I don’t think we often think of it as an eating disorder, because we just see overweight, we think lazy, we think you don’t have self-control, we don’t think of it as a disorder. And then the newest one that is out right now is orthorexia, and that is compulsive checking of ingredient lists and nutritional labels, increase in concern of health ingredients And so unusual interest in the health of what others are eating, obsessive following of healthy food on Instagram or social media.
0:05:30 – Speaker 2
I could see this across the board, not just with kids, but with all of us. Amen, Absolutely. So many times people are like I’m on Paleo or I’m on Gluten Free and I’m like, why Did your doctor say that that was the right? Like, why are we doing this? And I guess I feel like there’s just that movement to jump in a category and then do it.
0:05:51 – Speaker 3
Yeah, and the thing with those like those types of diets is they’re extreme, so it’s restriction, and when there’s restriction involved, that can often lead to an eating disorder as well, or it can be being overweight. Then you lose the weight and then you have fear of gaining it back. So then if we don’t address the emotional side to it, it’s like sure you’ve lost the weight, but you haven’t learned to cope with your emotions. Or, even further, you haven’t gotten to the root of what’s going on, so you’ve used food to cope. And so if we don’t get to the root of things and you lose weight and you haven’t dealt with those things, the weight’s going to come back on. So oftentimes, because people don’t know how to manage that, that’s where the eating disorders manifest themselves.
0:06:34 – Speaker 4
I feel like we’ve kind of discussed this so many times in different topics and it comes back to that same thing If we don’t understand the root and we don’t have a healthy way to process it or a healthy way to deal with it, we look for a coping mechanism.
0:06:47 – Speaker 2
And here we go again with eating disorders following into that category. It’s the numbers yourself or that. I don’t want to cope with real life And healthy coping. Yes.
0:06:55 – Speaker 3
And then PESS shows. I think I always use the cold pool analogy. So, when something happens that’s uncomfortable. If there’s, you know, you’re in the cold pool, it’s freezing and there’s a hot tub next door. You jump into the hot tub. It’s comfortable, right? Well, what is that? Well, in this case, it’s an eating disorder. So we’re going to escape the uncomfortable, we’re going to escape something that we want to numb, and we’re going to jump into things that either make us feel alive or we escape them, or it’s a replacement behavior.
0:07:23 – Speaker 2
I mean, it’s like Kim said. It is over and over again. We see it with people who struggle with alcohol, people who struggle with drugs, people who have screen addiction, who just want to be on their phone all day long.
0:07:33 – Speaker 3
It’s a coping mechanism that you’re just wanting to escape from reality, yeah, and something you said there that’s really interesting, though that I think is important to recognize. In eating disorders you’re talking about, like drug addictions, or you’re talking about that whole escape, but with food it’s something we have to have for survival, yes, so like if it’s an alcohol issue, you just stay out of the bars, you don’t hang around people who are drinking, but with food, our culture is so When you have to eat Motivated.
0:08:00 – Speaker 2
You have to eat for survival. We have to eat for survival.
0:08:02 – Speaker 3
Yes, And when you think about kids, it’s like you know a church event, everyone bring a snack or camp.
0:08:07 – Speaker 4
It’s all about you know, fun food Celebrations. We say let’s go get ice cream, let’s go, we pay our food with emotion.
0:08:13 – Speaker 2
Yes, so I can see how this one could be that one of the most overlooked areas of how you numb yourself, but also the hardest to kick, because of this reason, yes, the most socially acceptable.
0:08:23 – Speaker 4
0:08:24 – Speaker 3
Yes, absolutely So. Those are things we definitely need to consider. And it’s hard too, because lots of times our friends are doing these kind of behaviors or these things too, and so it comes at a cost to quit, because or because that means you have to choose different friends, or you have to take a break from friends, because if they’re not getting the help or wanting to change, then that’s gonna keep re-triggering you.
0:08:47 – Speaker 2
How often do you see, when you are in your practice, that you can just see that social media has played an impact on this? Because I know eating disorders have always been around, just like a lot of the things we talk about, like pornography and that sort of thing, but because of technology it has heightened it and there’s been a switch that we, a shift.
0:09:06 – Speaker 1
A shift. sorry, i couldn’t get the word out A shift that we must recognize.
0:09:10 – Speaker 3
Yeah, so as a whole in the mental health society or not society, but just in the mental health system we are seeing a rise of eating disorders, and a big connection absolutely is social media, because it’s the whole comparison piece. In the younger generations we see hype people, so they become all the hype and they have a certain body image or they have to look a certain way.
0:09:34 – Speaker 2
Make the cutest TikTok.
0:09:35 – Speaker 3
Yes, And even on TikTok there’s a lot of just little snippets that encourage binge eating or food restriction or just-.
0:09:47 – Speaker 2
Look at your ingredient label Like you better not be eating this kind of stuff today.
0:09:50 – Speaker 3
Yeah, and they make a joke out of it. So it kind of gets desensitized that it’s harmful.
0:09:56 – Speaker 4
I can see that completely Well. I imagine there was an uptick with television, Yeah. And then here we are, the next generation with social media And even as adults we’re talking about kids. But, like you mentioned earlier, for adults too, like when I go and look on social media, I’m looking at my friends and I’m like I can never wear those pants.
0:10:15 – Speaker 3
0:10:16 – Speaker 4
And oh my gosh girl, i put those on and it was a disaster. And so just that constant comparison and wanting things to be different. It’s so easy to fall into that trap.
0:10:25 – Speaker 3
0:10:25 – Speaker 4
You change this easily and then you get caught and it becomes a cycle and you need help.
0:10:31 – Speaker 3
Absolutely, and even like earlier you were saying, pornography, i mean kids are being exposed to bodies, yes, and you know, and Even that can.
0:10:39 – Speaker 2
Yes, even exposure to pornography can then fuel an eating disorder. Right, because they want to look like that.
0:10:44 – Speaker 3
Yes, or think they should look like that, or guys are like I want a girl that looks like that Absolutely, and so it can create a lot of insecurities. But then on the flip side, we are seeing advertisements look differently, where we are seeing different body types and stuff. So that’s encouraging that we’re seeing. But then it can go on the other side too, where sometimes it’s getting glorified, when we’re seeing unhealthy things too. So, like I talked about the eating disorder, binge eating we have to be careful with some of the things we see too, because then it makes it seem acceptable for something that’s actually a really dangerous thing for us, which is being super overweight.
0:11:17 – Speaker 2
Well, again, we see the two sides of the spectrum And both of the extremes are unhealthy And we see this again. And these conversations that we have to have with our kids are kind of in the middle, where they can see both extremes and they can see why both are unhealthy for you, absolutely, but to try and keep them centered.
0:11:37 – Speaker 3
Yes, and in conjunction with all of those, we are finding body dysmorphia as well, and so that is confusing, because that’s seeing ourselves larger than we are, or we obsess and focus on a perceived flaw and appearance.
0:11:49 – Speaker 2
So a lot of this, i feel like everybody has that, jane, and does anybody not have that?
0:11:54 – Speaker 3
Well, that’s where the mindfulness is so important, because if we pay attention to our thoughts and we’re really focusing on the here and now, when we get those intrusive thoughts or those unhealthy thoughts, we can rewrite them to give ourselves more compassion or more grace or a healthier idea of how we should think about things. So for me personally I’ve had three babies in four years. I don’t metabolize babies like some of the mothers, i know.
0:12:20 – Speaker 4
So if that, your personal trainer has not worked that out for you, you know.
0:12:25 – Speaker 1
I like to say I have one.
0:12:28 – Speaker 3
But I think it’s like if we’re not mindful of those thoughts, then we can get caught in that trap. Why do I look like that? Or I wish I bet my husband thinks I should look like that, instead of having grace and compassion, like, wow, my baby was, or my body was able to make three babies in four years, carry them they’re healthy and really celebrate that our body is not the enemy, food is not the enemy. So again, it’s that reframing of how to look at it in a healthy way.
0:12:54 – Speaker 4
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0:13:17 – Speaker 1
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0:13:42 – Speaker 3
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0:13:47 – Speaker 2
Today in the studio we have Jamie Merchan Hi everyone. She is a licensed professional counselor who sets on our advisory council and we are so excited to have her expertise here today. We are talking about eating disorders Really big topic. I learned a lot in the first segment, like a lot about the different types of eating disorders and the new trends that you’re seeing. We touched a little bit on symptoms to watch for. You said we have to know our kids and when they get out of line. Is there anything else specific that you wanted to touch on before we move on to how to have conversations and what to say to our kids?
0:14:24 – Speaker 3
Yeah. Well, there’s a couple, or I should say a few categories we can look for As a whole body. These are things you might be seeing Dehydration, dizziness, fatigue I’m always cold or headaches. Those aren’t common things in your child and then all of a sudden these things are coming up red flag. Another behavioral difference you might see is just frequent mirror checking, skipping meals, moody, social isolation, defensive about food, moose food around the plate but doesn’t really eat it, or putting everything in really small bites or cutting up in pieces. And then mood we’re going to look for anxiety, depression, guilt and shame. So I know that’s a big list, but it kind of covers the three, which is the whole body, behavioral and then the mood. So I think that’s important to recognize those things if those are out of character for your child.
0:15:14 – Speaker 2
So I had a conversation with my sophomore she’s 16 this week and she was really feeling tired and I said, oh my gosh, are you getting sick? Have you been tired over this past week? And she looked at me in the face and she was like, mom, i’m a high schooler, we’re always tired. And the more I thought about that like they’re also moody alive because their bodies are going through changes, they’re stressed at school. So I think I would just put a caution out there as a mom of a teen girl. It’s you gotta know your kid The baseline, right.
0:15:47 – Speaker 1
I loved that term. You have to know that baseline again.
0:15:49 – Speaker 2
And Jamie touched on it in the first segment, because that list I mean I could feel like a lot of them, most teenagers hit Well, and that’s the thing like when you go on Google or when you look on Mayo Clinic, or when you’re looking, they’re gonna
0:16:02 – Speaker 3
give you the symptom list And it’s pretty much like yeah, that’s a teenager, on a nutshell, right. Yeah or a mom Or a mom.
0:16:09 – Speaker 2
Right Going through menopause. Yeah, last show. Well, see you at last show, guys. See you at last show.
0:16:14 – Speaker 3
But I mean really. So yeah, like you said, it’s like check the baseline but then also look at. Like you know, we’re seeing this start younger and younger. So this may be happening with somebody who’s not even a teenager yet. And I wanna point out like lots of times we generalize that this is just a girl issue. We’re seeing rise in eating disorders, and guys too, so it’s a girl and a guy problem And so because it’s starting younger developmentally, it may delay eating disorder can delay puberty, it can slow down growth and just missed or a regular period.
So if you have a daughter who has regular periods and they all of a sudden have irregular periods, it could be hmm, what’s going on with that? So if you’re a mama who you’re like that’s just awkward, go there, like just, even if it’s uncomfortable, start talking about the periods or what that looks like every month. You know what? like do they communicate that to you? Or just something to keep that on your radar. Because we’re talking infertility if they have too many missed periods, and so that’s a consequence that could be a lifetime.
0:17:21 – Speaker 4
You know, we say so often here that the solution is creating that culture of communication. I mean, that’s what our whole mission is for everyone’s family and for every kid to have a safe place to process. And the longer that we are doing these shows and talking through these things, i realize that that is the bottom line in all of this is doing that hard work and having those tough conversations, because it applies to everything, including eating disorders, and it’s gonna look different, probably, for every kid, even with these symptoms There’s, you know, yes, there will be some of those that are similar for each kid that’s struggling with something, but your kid’s gonna be unique and their underlying issue will be unique, and so, really, the bottom line is knowing your kid, and that’s hard to do, that’s hard work, and so I think, in looking at symptoms, do you have ideas of, maybe, ways of bringing up this topic that are not so inflammatory?
0:18:16 – Speaker 2
or accusatory. That’s what I was gonna ask, too, like preventative conversations.
0:18:20 – Speaker 1
Before there’s a problem.
0:18:23 – Speaker 2
Give us some little tips because I feel like we can get in there with everything. You know. I know I think about cutting and when my kids were in elementary school I would say things like if you ever get stressed out and when I hurt yourself, always tell me, don’t ever hurt yourself. And I didn’t go into graphic detail about how kids cut or whatever, but I was planting seeds. Give us some ideas.
0:18:47 – Speaker 3
I’m opening the box, get ready.
0:18:49 – Speaker 4
I am like, oh my, I’m real big. Rip off the bow.
0:18:52 – Speaker 3
Oh, this is my heart.
0:18:53 – Speaker 2
Preventative right Yes because, like you said, we want to prevent it before it gets to the 10. Right, we want to prevent it at a one, two and three at this talk. Yes, i love it, that’s your scale.
0:19:04 – Speaker 3
We use it all the time. That’s my scale. Yay, i love it all the time, thanks God, okay, so I think, just biblically. I mean, let’s bring it back to God and let’s look at helping one understand his or her worth. So where do I go when I need comfort? Where do I go when I need worth? Where do I go when I need escape? Ultimately, it should be God, right, not food, not food.
And in some of our homes we’re like Jamie, i wish that was the reality, i wish that we had a Christ-centered home and that would just be the go-to. So some of you are listening and maybe it’s not a Christ-centered home and we don’t. That’s not a intentional thing, and maybe is that we don’t know how to cultivate that. What does that look like? And we’re all just figuring a lot of this stuff out. So if it’s not a Christ-centered home, where do I need to go when I need comfort? Where do I need worth? Where do I need to escape? And I’m like ultimately, yes, christ, but then Christ has entrusted your children to you. So, christ and parents, i go to my parents when I need comfort. I go to my parents when I need worth. I go to my parents when I need escape from the craziness of the world, right To confide in them Instead of binge eating or cutting or finding another coping mechanism.
And so it’s creating that culture in the home, where you become their comfort, you become their source of worth their safe place right.
So I love that, because John 14.27 says peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as a world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. And so that’s encouraging for kids, but it’s also encouraging for parents because do not be afraid. I think oftentimes you know, when we talk about all this stuff, we go to fear. Well, here’s where the hope is. So here’s where I go into. What do we do? How do we create those things that I was just talking about? One of the things is is we want to not have a house that is focused on exercise and food in regard to weight, or that’s the goal to get skinny, or that’s the goal to look good. You want to focus on health. So we exercise to be healthy, We eat these kinds of foods to be healthy. So if it’s like, why do you go to the gym, mom? Oh, because I want to be skinny, That sends a negative message. So when you keep it on health, that’s good, And when it’s proportioned correctly.
0:21:25 – Speaker 2
I want to stop you right there, because I know I’m so guilty of saying something like, well, i want to fit in these jeans, or I want to get back in my size before I had babies, or something like that, and I think we have to be careful about that because it could send a negative vibe to our kids that it’s about the size of us Exactly.
0:21:46 – Speaker 3
And so you know, i have little, three little girls right And they’re itty, so like, for instance, when they see me changing or whatever, i will say, look how beautiful God made mommy’s body. And I will just make a point of talking positively about me. So they see me postpartum, they see me, you know, just not at my finest and in your opinion, in my opinion right, but it’s me like just seeing how God sees me. So from a young age they already hear mom talking positively about her body. And so another thing is to get your spouse on board. Get your spouse to say, hey, babe, you look beautiful. Or make it not even about appearance, talk about character. I love your character, i love how you excel in math, i love your talents. So just focus on things outside of their body too that their worth isn’t. Oh, i always get compliments about my look or I always get praise about my look. Find other areas to praise your kids.
0:22:46 – Speaker 2
And I want to just jump in here real quick, if I can, and let’s talk about our boys, because you’re talking about bringing in your spouse, you know. You know the Super Bowl happened and we’re not going to get into that. Feel how you want to feel about it, you know. But my son went to school and what 12-year-old boys were saying about the dancers on the Super Bowl? like hurt, and I felt like I had to circle back to some conversations And I said, hey, she’s more than her body, like she’s got a brain, she’s got a family, she’s a successful business person, you know, and I think those conversations are important too for our girls and our boys.
0:23:22 – Speaker 3
I agree. I love that you brought that in there. Another thing that I think is important is that we can talk about how we classify foods, So we can talk about sometimes foods which are like birthday cake. You don’t eat it every day, it’s a sometimes food, so give yourself permission.
0:23:37 – Speaker 4
I like what. that’s the term we’ve always used.
0:23:38 – Speaker 3
It helps little kids so much to understand that Or we’ll say oh, that’s a one, two food, like you can have one or two cookies. And so the key is not to say no, not to restrict, but just show them what healthy balance.
0:23:51 – Speaker 2
Healthy balance yes exactly.
0:23:53 – Speaker 3
So I think those are just really important things.
0:23:57 – Speaker 4
I will say you know, having littles also. These are so important to start when they’re young. Like you were saying earlier. One of my boys came to me at a young age and said am I fat? Had that question because we’re all big boned. Yeah, ain’t nobody gonna be a little, me too, it’s just not a thing, yes, and so being able to explain scientifically really helped him, because I know his character And say we have this kind of body type and we’re meant to be strong and we help people in this way and you’re built this way Right.
And then the things like you said. These are sometimes food. How do you feel when you eat that? I don’t really feel that good. Well, we probably shouldn’t eat a lot of that, Exactly.
0:24:34 – Speaker 2
You know, bringing them to see the difference.
0:24:35 – Speaker 3
0:24:36 – Speaker 4
Getting them to understand that themselves has really been helpful in our household. I think that’s wonderful.
0:24:41 – Speaker 3
So, lastly, if you are gonna have a conversation I think these are just really quick to go over Pick a good time. If you know your child’s grumpy in the morning, don’t have that conversation. Yes, explain why you’re concerned, be prepared for denial and resistance And ask the person his or her reasons for wanting to get help. And so, like I said, this can be fatal. So we wanna create accountability, get a dietician and counselor involved. Stay away from body shaming and what we talked about early. So gentle but firm, because eating disorders tend to be secretive, deceitful and manipulative. So we have to be firm, but we also have to be loving and gentle. So I know that was like a power rush, but if you do have to confront, that’s your go-to plan.
0:25:23 – Speaker 4
And how can people get ahold of you if they’re looking for an expert to get some help?
0:25:27 – Speaker 3
Yes, you can go to wwwsa-counselorcom. Thank you, jamie, you’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
0:25:34 – Speaker 1
Thanks for joining us on nextTalk Radio with Mandy and Kim on AM 630, The Word. You are not alone trying to figure out how to parent in this digital world. We are here with practical solutions to help you. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Find our video series and podcast at nexttalkorg. Are you ready for the nextTalk? brilliant music.
Transcribed by https://podium.page