7

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Paleo and body dysmorphic disorder:EDITED

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 17, 2011 at 9:27 PM

Yesterday, I posted a question titled "Does anybody feel like Paleo isnt working?!" I proceeded to explain a meltdown I recently had, some numbers, and some facts about me...someone brought up a possibility for me to have developed slight body dysmorphia issues.

By definition Body Dysmorphic Disorder is when one is preoccupied with an imagined physical defect or a minor defect that others often cannot see.

Has anybody on PaleoHacks suffered from BDD? Did Paleo help you to recover from it, or any other disorders associated with body image, self esteem, etc? Did is change the way you though about yourself? When were you able to see yourself in a more loving, accepting way?

Please share your stories!!!

EDIT: I do realize BDD is a mental disorder, so let me clarify my question....While recovering from BDD, was Paleo part of the process? I know some say Paleo helped with their depression...so I figured Id see if Paleo helped with the more unusual self image problems.

F384f37edfc8f17857714f6ec9d1267e

on November 18, 2011
at 02:50 PM

I have the same struggles you have day in and day out. Some days are better and some days are definitely not. They affect my day to where I do not feel like doing anything. I have struggled w/ the girl in the mirror who I think represents me for quite a few years now. Not every day is this way tho, thankfully. I have not been diagnosed w/ BDD but have been told multiple times by people that I have it. Has paleo helped? A little. Mainly cause I know I'm eating healthy whole foods and do not have the all the digestive issues I used to suffer with. However, I have not lost weight, so it's hard.

273729a18d2f18903815d2644a4d64de

(1683)

on November 18, 2011
at 01:30 PM

thanks abaestuo :] ill definitely let you know if i have questions or concerns!!

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on November 18, 2011
at 03:08 AM

But...Some women really shouldn't have minimal (safe/healthy) body fat as a goal because they're dealing with disordered thinking/behavior. Sometimes the goal just needs to be healthy and strong. That's a terrific goal anyway.

3bad4b0b105bf44d7650e7fdfbe15cbd

(860)

on November 18, 2011
at 01:46 AM

Yeah, that could be true, I just based those numbers off of my best memory. According to this (http://www.acefitness.org/blog/112/what-are-the-guidelines-for-percentage-of-body-fat/) essential fat is 10-13% for women. I've no idea if you can ovulate well with that little, which is why I mentioned amenorrhea as the best indicator of a healthy fat level.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on November 18, 2011
at 12:25 AM

According to the science textbook I own, a normal western woman needs 17% just to ovulate normally. There are exceptions though.

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9 Answers

8
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on November 17, 2011
at 10:38 PM

You should see a professional counselor about it. I think setting goals for body fat that are sub-fertile (for Western women) and thus evolutionarily suboptimal regardless of whether you intend to have children or not is concerning, but only a psychologist or psychiatrist is going to be able to tell you if you have it or not.

5
13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 17, 2011
at 10:05 PM

Paleo isn't magic. No diet is going to cure BDD. Eating a healthy diet can give you more strength and mood stability while you are pursuing other ways to deal with BDD. Depending on how severe your problem is, you may need to seek professional help. If it is milder you may be fine working through it on your own using a book or website, or with a support group.

3
724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

on November 18, 2011
at 07:05 PM

I agree with Melissa, that you should speak with a therapist or maybe go to group therapy. At the very least, that will let you know whether what BDD-sufferers experience sounds like you.

That being said, I think that eating disorders and BDD often tend to be just one symptom of generalized anxiety or OCD. I read your original post, and it sounds like you're not so much obsessed with your body as with perfection generally. That might be good to keep in mind, otherwise you might seemingly cure your eating disorder only to find that you're beating yourself up over other things. So, try to be gentle with yourself. There's no "the best." There's just you, whoever you are today. And I have no doubt that, on any given day, you are plenty lovable regardless of the goals you're setting for yourself.

On the personal experience front, I find that when I don't eat enough food or eat gluten, I become anxious. Both of those things cause adrenaline to flood my system, making me flip out generally and feel out of control, which of course makes me want to control things more. I don't know how much you're eating, but if you're that concerned with your body, it's possible you're not eating enough and it's just creating a self-reinforcing cycle.

3
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on November 18, 2011
at 02:32 AM

I hope the many PH members who are recovering from eating disorders/chronic calorie restriction chime in! These issues go hand in hand with dysmorphic views of your own body.

I think a TON of women have a dysmorphic view of their bodies. In fact I think few people have a self-image that meshes with the majority of other people's viewpoints; this isn't necessarily bad or sick though.

Personally, I've felt better and better about how I look over the last 3 years, and the catalyst was when I began taking care of my body for the sake of my health (short and long-term - with fertility and reproduction in mind as well) first and foremost. Before, I would try to eat better or exercise or whatever, but only because I didn't want to look like X or didn't like Y. Part of changing that negative focus was deciding to accept that this is the body I have and it might never look significantly different. But after finding paleo, I got some of those significant positive changes in the way I look anyway (no acne, more curves). That isn't the main reason my self-esteem has improved so much, though - that was more self-love and positive self-talk. So yes, it's been very helpful to my mental and emotional health as well as the purely physical.

just because you might not have diagnosable BDD, does not mean you could not benefit a ton from speaking with a professional about your negative feelings and perceptions about your body, which may in fact be wholly unrealistic or unhealthy.

I feel like your frustration and dislike towards a figure which by all evidence I've seen so far is attractive, strong, fit, healthy, and lean yet fertile, is something you should strive to change. Young women should not waste the fastest, strongest, most beautiful years of their life feeling like crap because their body fat % isn't under 15%, and directing an insane amount of effort and activity in their lives towards such a pointless (IMO) goal...

2
045b3445b512ef29dfa579a01a58e1c5

on November 18, 2011
at 05:55 PM

This is a popular topic, rightfully so. Many women suffer with BDD, and some sort of disordered eating. Personally, I have suffered.with bdd, anorexia and bulimia. I Have completed intensive outpatient, and been through a lot of therepy. I.found crossfit a year ago. A lot of crossfitters at my gym encourage paleo. When I started I was very against paleontology, because everything I learned in treatment said to Have meal plan and not.restrict certain foods etc. I have always been an athlete, I Have always.loved.working out and been fairly.fit. when I found crossfit I.fell in love. Crossfit makes me feel beautiful being strong. I have learned to embrace my body for How strong it is. I got to.the point where I.was plateauing and suffering some shoulder injuries and pain. I decided That I.would start.reading up on paleo, and was worth a try on me being able.to.feel better. I did this and Have now been doing paleo for about 1.5 months. I Have had some awesome results. I got my.first muscle up, increased my deadlift Max 20 lbs to 275, and finished.one workout 1 min behind the fastest record woman's time! This is just the. Start of my.successes through paleo and crossfit. I still struggle with my body image ay times, but paleo and crossfit has helped me to love who I've become and my.strength I.mow want to eat frequently and.the right.things.to.be stronger and better at crossfit.

2
Cb508bbcea59e2c9c0d2ac7a6479f5b7

on November 18, 2011
at 05:19 AM

I am suffering from it as well. I take a lot of before after photos.. they don't lie and even though I can look at them and go "wow that picture is flattering,I don't really look like that" I do realize with everyone saying how great I look, I need to love me for me!

Paleo is helping but I have hit a plateau.. It will not cure it but if your eating right and working out and feeling great then you will do just fine!

2
305b4e1f6fc246729979d09082cbb2a3

on November 18, 2011
at 04:18 AM

Hey Michelle,

I've suffered from anorexia and bulimia in the past, and am currently struggling with an EDNOS, however, the Paleo lifestyle has really helped me to feel more in control of my eating habits (or of lack of). I remember reading that most women in western society suffer from some form of body dysmorphic thinking and the trend continues to rise.

While eating disorders don't ever really go away, (I've suffered with mine for 6 years), they do get easier to control and manage. But eating Paleo is slowly helping me with the day to day challenges I still face. Although I still feel guilty about surpassing old calorie limits and other mental challenges, this has been the most productive way to stay on top of myself mentally.

But all that aside, please, please go talk to someone about this. Its best to figure these sort of things out soon before they blow up into someone barely manageable. Good luck, and if you need anything don't be shy! :D

273729a18d2f18903815d2644a4d64de

(1683)

on November 18, 2011
at 01:30 PM

thanks abaestuo :] ill definitely let you know if i have questions or concerns!!

1
F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on November 17, 2011
at 09:37 PM

This isn't really an answer on BDD, but here's some advice on how to improve your body image, from a great eating disorder resource website: http://www.something-fishy.org/reach/bodyimage.php

-1
3bad4b0b105bf44d7650e7fdfbe15cbd

on November 17, 2011
at 11:33 PM

I've always been a fitness nut - BDD, like any psychological disorder, has a range of severity. Everyone draws a different line between obsession and dedication.

As long as you're happy and healthy, why worry about what other people think? Moderation is boring anyway.

12-15% is safe for most women just as 5-6% is safe for most men. If that's your goal, then do it - just make sure you're happy (and healthy) in the process. If you get amenorrhoeic then you're exercising too much and/or your body fat is too low. That will likely be your best indicator of sub-optimal body fat levels.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on November 18, 2011
at 12:25 AM

According to the science textbook I own, a normal western woman needs 17% just to ovulate normally. There are exceptions though.

3bad4b0b105bf44d7650e7fdfbe15cbd

(860)

on November 18, 2011
at 01:46 AM

Yeah, that could be true, I just based those numbers off of my best memory. According to this (http://www.acefitness.org/blog/112/what-are-the-guidelines-for-percentage-of-body-fat/) essential fat is 10-13% for women. I've no idea if you can ovulate well with that little, which is why I mentioned amenorrhea as the best indicator of a healthy fat level.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on November 18, 2011
at 03:08 AM

But...Some women really shouldn't have minimal (safe/healthy) body fat as a goal because they're dealing with disordered thinking/behavior. Sometimes the goal just needs to be healthy and strong. That's a terrific goal anyway.

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