Eating Disorders Developing In Seminary?

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  • #594076

    Imaofthree
    Participant

    I have been speaking to numerous young ladies who told me that they developed eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia while they were in seminary in Israel. Has anyone else heard of this? Are there any measures that can be taken before seminary and during seminary?

    #1007335

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Also overeating is an eating disorder which is often picked up in seminary.

    #1007336

    Imaofthree
    Participant

    I don’t think over eating is an eating disorder…or else most americans would have an eating disorder!

    #1007337

    dunno
    Member

    I’m with popa. Overeating seems to be more of a problem than anorexia/bulimia.

    #1007338

    deiyezooger
    Member

    yeh its so normal.

    #1007340

    mewho
    Participant

    you dont have to talk to girls that were in israel to hear this. i heard it 10 yrs ago right here in nyc.

    girls in yeshiva would have contests to see who could go longest without food. they would only have water and diet soda

    #1007341

    I’ve heard of it… measures to be taken? idk, sorry. but there are certain types that are more prone to eating disorders, adn eating disorders can develop from disordered eating, so be on the lookout for that I guess. I’m assuming from your name that your talking about one of your children, so just be on the lookout-there are a few websites if you google eating disorder symptoms, or info about eating disorders that may help you 🙂

    as for overeating-compulsive overeating is a big prob-look it up

    #1007342

    Health
    Participant

    Ima -It is a mental disorder, you can’t pick it up, like a cold. Sometimes people exposed to different environments, like anxiety, such as school pressure, peer pressure, will develop mental disorders, if they are pre-disposed to mental illness. There are a lot of factors why someone develops mental illness. If the child/girl is very calm, collective type, it’s unlikely for this to happen. If the girl is more high-strung, there is a greater possibility. These disorders need to be handled by mental health professionals, whether before seminary or during.

    #1007343

    amichai
    Participant

    it was written about recently in one of the weekly magazines. schools should bring in a counseler if they can once every few weeks to speak about the dangers.

    #1007344

    kapusta
    Participant

    If someone asked me, I would think the ED was not as much to do with seminary as it is just being away from home. I know someone who had anorexia and it started in camp. I’m sure shes not the only one. As far as staying safe, I think education and awareness are important. (This can even be helpful if friends and roomates know enough to realize an ED when they see it.)

    Anything thats not generally healthy eating can probably be called an eating disorder, so overeating would qualify. IMO, overeating is a lot easier to catch than anorexia or bulimia and though they are all bad, overeating is probably on the “lesser” of the bad.

    *kapusta*

    #1007345

    Health
    Participant

    To those saying overeating is an eating disorder, you are Incorrect:

    “Research that has come out since the last major revisions to the DSM 15 years ago justifies the classification of binge eating as a disorder in its own right, says Dr. B. Timothy Walsh, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University Medical Center and chairman of the eating disorders work group for this version of the DSM.

    The DSM is known as the bible of mental illness. These are the ones who classify what is considered a mental disorder. Overeating might be unhealthy, but it isn’t a mental illness, unless the person engages in “binge eating”!

    #1007346

    Imaofthree
    Participant

    Why should they over eat when they are in seminary? what causes that?

    #1007347

    Bar Shattya
    Member

    drinking only water is not a disorder. Is excersizing a disorder too?

    #1007348

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Welcome back methinks. I missed you.

    #1007349

    exercising too much-exercise bulimia. but in general, no exercising is perfectly fine. E/t in moderation…Shvil Hazahav!

    #1007350

    Homeowner
    Member

    health, I don’t understand your point that:

    To those saying overeating is an eating disorder, you are ncorrect. . .

    For one thing, the topic posed by the OP was anorexia and bulimia. For another, the quotes attributed to Dr. Walsh speak of “binge eating” and say nothing about compulsive overeating, known sadly in our community as “fressing.”

    Compulsive overeating is indeed a serious problem and affects way too many frum people causing heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

    Here is the contact information for Dr. Walsh: http://nyp.org/FPHTML/physician/tbwalsh/

    Why don’t you call him and ask him if he agrees that compulsive overeating is not a disorder?

    When I see someone with a BMI over 30, I think to myself, “Nebech, when will he learn?” If I see a person like that eating at a kiddush as if he is about to cross the Sinai Desert without food, I ask when Hatzoloh will have a Fressing Emergency Number.

    #1007351

    Midwest2
    Participant

    You bet this is a problem and one the mental health professionals in the frum community are really worried about. After all, anorexia can kill – literally. When the person falls below a certain percentage of their normal weight their body chemistry goes haywire. Nineteen year old girls can die of heart attacks. I think the mortality rate for cases where treatment doesn’t work is something like 1 in 5.

    Part of the problem is an issue of control, part of the problem is our mania for size 2 girs in shidduchim.Whatever the cause, there are a lot of young people at risk. If you have a problem, ask your rav to recommend a professional. If you have a friend with a problem, try to talk them into going for help. It can be a matter of life and death.

    #1007352

    bein_hasdorim
    Participant

    Imaofthree;

    I’ve actually heard of the opposite too,

    That they eat out, “like all the time” and aside from growing spritually, they grow physically as well.

    #1007353

    aries2756
    Participant

    The point that you are missing is that these kids don’t know about these things in their sheltered lives. Then they live with other girls who introduce them to these new ways of dieting and getting skinny for the dating scene. Girls tell each other how to be thin and how important it is for when they get home! This is how it starts. Once girls start and feel the power of “control” over their own bodies that power takes control of their mind, body and spirit. They lose control over their power of choice and the illness begins because they are no longer capable of choosing health over bad habits and illness. They hide their habits so no one can see what they are doing. They will eat normally and then heave it up when no one is looking or they will push food around the plate and pretend to eat. Or they might binge when no one is looking and then heave it up. They might obsess about the scale or about their exercise routine. They will look in the mirror and no matter how much weight they lose or how skinny they look they won’t see it. They will only see what they perceive themselves to be in their mind which is “fat”, so they will continue with their sick routine until someone intervenes and stops them.

    #1007354

    The bagel stores in Geulah do not seem to indicate this is a very widespread problem.

    #1007355

    aries2756
    Participant

    Derech Hamelech, please don’t joke about this. It is a very serious problem and it doesn’t matter what percentage it takes hold of. Whether it is 50% or 2% it is still too much and way too dangerous.

    #1007356

    Health
    Participant

    Homeowner – I’ll answer you, even though you obviously didn’t read the posts. Both Popa and Kapusta said overeating is an eating disorder. I did quote Dr. Walsh about overeating, which he says is normal. You’re the lawyer, so you have no clue when it comes to health. My post was to inform people that overeating isn’t an eating disorder. An eating disorder is a mental disorder and that is what I was coming to refute. I never said overeating isn’t a health problem; obesity affects about half the population. It just is that half the country isn’t crazy. (Until half the pop. has legal degrees.)

    #1007357

    amichai
    Participant

    derech- you eat your fill, then you go without food for the next 3 days, drinking diet soda, or water.

    #1007358

    I haven’t noticed this problem at all in my 2 years of seminary. What I did notice is that often the meals are pretty bad so the girls nosh on all kinds of garbage in between meals and gain weight on that. I don’t think anyone in my seminary struggled with anorexia or bulimia.

    #1007359

    shlomozalman
    Member

    Young women with eating disorders and who are studying in Israel brought those disorders with them. They did not develop them in Israel. Anyone who understands the fundamentals of these disorders knows that.

    #1007360

    Ettie
    Member

    I used to work in a dr’s office in Eretz Yisroel that treated sem girls and unfortunately, the disorder is common both for girls and boys.

    If it hasn’t been noticed it’s because the students or hanhala don’t want to deal with the problem.

    #1007361

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Health:

    I don’t understand. Your quote says that overeating is a mental disorder which affects 2-5% of the population. What are you arguing about?

    #1007362

    tzippi
    Member

    Sure, because they’re going home Pesach (why?) and have to lose the winter/dorm weight to meet the shadchanim.

    #1007363

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    Interesting to use ED for eating disorder. That’s not its usual meaning.

    #1007364

    pumper
    Member

    I think the reason that eating disorders crop up in seminary is because the girls are away from home, and there is no one watching over them to make sure they are eating.

    Its obviously the girls who had this tendency before seminary, but in seminary they have the opportunity to come out. No one is sitting down at the table with you and seeing if you are eating. You could come back to the dorm at 10 at night, and no one has to know were you were or what you ate.

    #1007365

    Health
    Participant

    popa_bar_abba – Sorry about the confusion because of the different fonts. The quote starts from research and ends with lifetime. What he is saying is that “binge eating” & overeating aren’t the same thing. Overeating is mentally normal, while “binge eating” is not. You might not have realized, but using the term “eating disorder” for overeating -states by medical definition that overeating is a mental disorder, which it is not!

    Why did they have to classify “binge eating” as a separate mental disease? Because they found Bulimic patients who would just “binge eat”, but not “purge” (get rid of it somehow). So they decided to give it- it’s own classification. This isn’t what you call “Overeatng”!

    #1007366

    Health
    Participant

    SJSinNYC – Oh, what does it stand for then?

    #1007367

    pumper
    Member

    Health-

    are you serious?

    #1007368

    Homeowner
    Member

    health, and what’s your degree in, snarkiness? Compulsive overeating is indeed a psychological problem.

    Or, do you think people eat themselves to 100 lbs overweight willingly with knowledge of all the health problems?

    #1007369

    mewho
    Participant

    ED= Executive Director

    #1007370

    Unfortunately, this problem does not only apply in seminaries in E”Y but in high schools and American seminaries. In seminary people think, “oh, I dont want to gain weight like everyone else so I will cut carbs…..” and it all goes downhill from there when girls lose way too much weight to be safe. I know of a few cases of suspected and actual eating disorders that happened before any girl went off to seminary. There is a weird phenomenon about girls having to be a certain size in order to get a good shidduch or to be seen as “proper”. But not everyone is meant to be that size- bone structure, height ect will not allow everyone to be 100 lbs! Does anyone have any ideas how to combat this dangerous situation? (Other than the obesity epidemic?)

    #1007371

    Imaofthree
    Participant

    Mother in Israel, just because you didn’t notice doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. The girls are very clever at keeping it secret. One girl was telling me that she became bulimic in Seminary and nobody knew about it the whole year!

    #1007372

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    I think most of the posts on this thread are completely misunderstanding eating disorders.

    Eating disorders are an attempt to take control of one’s life, and are usually exercised by people who feel very not in control. They often manifest with accompanying mental illnesses such as depression, Obsessive Compulsive disorder, or others.

    They are not caused by having too little food around, or not enough parental guidance on what to eat.

    They are probably caused by a history of far too much parental “guidance” (read: criticism) of eating choices.

    Health: we are not disagreeing, I didn’t mean to equate the two psychologically or physiologically.

    #1007373

    bpt
    Participant

    I’ve not heard of it, but I can see where being away from home for a full year, under enormous pressure can make anyone lose their appetite.

    Add to that, the need to be a size <whatever>, and the conditions are ripe for a crisis.

    True, few things can stave off a clinical condition. But for most cases, going off with a good sense of self and frequent contact with / to home can be a huge source of emotional support.

    That, and tefillos. Lots and lots of tefillos.

    #1007375

    Health
    Participant

    Homeowner- “Compulsive overeating is indeed a psychological problem. Or, do you think people eat themselves to 100 lbs overweight willingly with knowledge of all the health problems?”

    I know you’re a lawyer, but this doesn’t make you an expert in everything. Your medical opinions wouldn’t be held up even in a court of law! Whether people have psychological issues or just don’t control their taavos, doesn’t make them mentally ill. My point is (for the third time)- overeating or the way you call it compulsive overeating isn’t a mental disorder/eating disorder. Eating disorders such as “binge eating”, anorexia, and bulimia are!

    #1007376

    SJSinNYC- I’m rolling cuz I was thinking the same exact thing!!!

    How does one “catch” anorexia? I would love to not have the nissayon of food! I can’t imagine anyone willingly not eating…there’s so much good stuff out there….

    #1007377

    Brucklyn Jewess
    Participant

    Research strongly points out that “educating” girls about eating disorders (in this case anorexia and bulimia) is generally not helpful. It only teaches those who are in it and those who are vulnerable new tricks and gives them ideas. Anorexia and bulimia are not a phase or ” something in the head”. Anyone who thinks this is simply ignorant. They are very very serious mental illnesses. What starts off as a stint in seminary can evolve into a life threatening illness.

    #1007378

    Homeowner
    Member

    health, what is your problem? Why do you keep bringing up my profession? What do you do for a living, by the way?

    #1007379

    aries2756
    Participant

    Overeating is not a mental disorder, it is either a choice not to concentrate on the act of eating food and on the concept of feeling full, or it is a choice to keep eating even though you feel full but are too in love with the food to stop. It can also be a medical disorder where a person does not have the sensation of being full so they do not know when to stop or understand the concept of stopping even though they do not feel full.

    BEING overweight can also BE a medical disorder and not necessarily connected to the amount of food a person eats.

    This is in contrast to eating disorders which are an issue of being in control of that part of your life and your body. Eating disorders are very scary and dangerous because it can and does lead to death.

    #1007380

    Professional
    Member

    I know plenty US girls who never went to Israel, who are unfortuately anorexic. Also girls in EY who are home, not seminary situation. It is a problem. A Relative of one who went thru counseling, hospital stays etc etc and still not recovered, said she learnt there is no solution, its a lifetime issue. if anyone knows differently – would love to hear!

    #1007381

    1dayatatime
    Participant

    Ima,

    Perhaps you can encourage them to join Overeaters Anonymous

    It has helped many people with anorexia and bulemia

    #1007382

    m in Israel
    Member

    Mother in Israel — Unfortunately the fact that you didn’t notice it doesn’t mean students in your seminary didn’t struggle with eating disorders. Anorexia in particular can go for a long time unnoticed, particularly if one is not looking for it. I was in seminary over 10 years ago, and recently found out that one of the girls in seminary with me who I was pretty friendly with was anorexic — I had absolutely no clue at the time, and I was somewhat familiar with eating disorders as we had a few girls in my high school with eating disorders that I knew about.

    Bruklyn Jewess — I am not familiar with the research that you quoted, but what I have seen is that the sooner eating disorders are found and treated (and yes, this is a real, serious, and dangerous psychological illness that requires professional help), the better chance at recovery. Therefore educating people to notice the warning signs and get help for their relative/ friend/ student, etc. seems to serve a very important purpose. Particularly in seminary when girls are on their own and don’t have a parent around noticing what a girl is or isn’t eating, having friends who can pick up on these signs can be very helpful.

    There is an organization called “Relief” that provides information and referrals targeting the frum community for mental health issues including eating disorders. I don’t know much about the organization, but their website contains a lot of information on these issues and may be helpful to someone with a concern. The site is reliefhelp.org

    #1007383

    kapusta
    Participant

    SJS and others:

    Sorry for the confusion. I used ED to mean eating disorder and it looks like it was understood as that. Hey, you have a better abbreviation? 😉

    Health:

    Just to clarify, if you refer to my original post, you’ll see I did not really equate overeating with a regular eating disorder, more with forms of unhealthy eating. Sorry for the confusion.

    *kapusta*

    #1007384

    Health
    Participant

    Homeowner- “What do you do for a living, by the way?”

    I’m in the Health/Medical field. Hence my screen name!

    #1007385

    mewho
    Participant

    overeating is indeed a disorder. just like being an alcoholic, smoker, gambler etc

    very hard to get out of the cycle and easy to revert back

    it is a daily battle..which can be won

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