Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community

Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community

Eating Disorders Seminar

Recently I was lucky enough to join a seminar in south Florida for educators and clinicians, “Feasting, Fasting & Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community”.

The organizer, well-known eating disorder specialists The Renfrew Center, told us the seminar was in direct response to the ‘noticeable spike throughout the country (USA) in Jewish patients’. Whilst the rates of Jewish patients with disordered eating are similar to the general community, the reasons behind them differ.

For treatment of Jewish patients to have any chance of success their therapists first must appreciate the strong traditions, religious rituals and level of religious observance in their patients.

Living in a multi-cultural society (especially in London) I could see how relevant this is to other religions and cultures. Both women and food play central roles in most strong ethnic communities.

Professor Marjorie Feinson, PhD

Eating disorder and body image specialist, Professor Marjorie Feinson, PhD.

Professor and researcher Dr. Marjorie Feinson, PhD, began the seminar with an overview of eating problems in the Jewish community, with the emphasis on binge eating among adult Jewish women. Of the adult Jewish respondents in Dr. Feinson’s study over 50% had problems with binge eating behaviours, although only one third of the women were obese.

Unsurprisingly, the binge eating was linked to high levels of self-criticism and serious body image concerns.There isn’t much …continue reading Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community

Part I - The Alliance of Eating Disorder Awareness: Yes, You Can Recover

Recently, taking advantage of being in south Florida to visit my father (I live in London), I contacted the Alliance of Eating Disorder Awareness and was delighted to meet Johanna Kandel, CEO and Founder, and Sharon Glynn, Director of Programming.

“You can recover, and we will do all we can to help you” is their powerful message.

I asked Johanna what led to her founding the Alliance in 2000 (on a shoe string budget). She told me she was eager to do something “hands on – not just learn about it”. And so, in her early twenties, she set out on a mission to aid her own recovery and educate others.

The Alliance has an impressive track record. They state on their website that they are:

… dedicated to providing programs and activities aimed at outreach and education related to health promotion, including all eating disorders, positive body image, and self-esteem….(it) offers educational presentations, support groups for those struggling and for their family and friends, advocacy for mental health legislation, toll-free national phone help line, as well as referrals, training, support and mentoring services all free of charge. Since its inception, The Alliance has offered presentations…to more than 200,000 individuals throughout the United States, including in-office learning forums for all health care professionals.

alliance for eating disorders - walk

Everyone who works with these issues knows how essential awareness is, and on February 28th the Alliance successfully held it’s 4th Annual “celebrating everyBODY: A walk for eating disorder awareness”. Eating disorder ‘champion’ Congressman Ted Deutch supported and over 800 walkers participated.

Of …continue reading Part I – The Alliance of Eating Disorder Awareness: You Can Recover