Kitchen Sink Stew and Aging Eating Disorders

I haven’t written much about eating disorders lately, but this particular topic has been on my mind lately.

When I was in treatment, I was one of the youngest ones there. I was 20 at the time, and there was a woman there who was 56. I kept coming to group meetings at my treatment center that year after my discharge and I recall seeing a woman in her 70’s.

I hate that people assume eating disorders are a teenage or twenty-something type of problem. In fact, I feel like some people develop the disorder as they age.

Let’s examine a few cases:

Mommy-rexia: I feel like after a woman get pregnant and had her kids, shes super vulnerable to fall down the eating disordered spiral. Lets face it, you gain weight when your pregnant. Your SUPPOSED to! But if your used to being a twig your whole life, the sudden “fatness” can scare you all the way down to become a stroller pushing skeleton. Or, you are so used to eating what you did when you were pregnant that you find yourself unable to stop. Its so sad how many moms I see that desperately need help but dont get it, suffering in silence. They are often in denial, putting their kids ahead of them all the time. But the fail to realize that they are harming their children in not properly nourishing themselves.

Midlife Crisis: The kids are old by now, they might move out to college, and all of a sudden, you have all this extra time on your hands. And lets not forget the faltering marriages, stagnant careers, and the wrinkles and “sagging”  that often strike in midlife. So in en effort to “get your mind off it” you go on a diet, join a gym, lose five pounds, then five more, and before you know it, your a walking stick figure.

Elderly Eating: Prune juice mocking aside, I am constantly noticing “elderly eating issues”. There are many reasons for this: A loss of independence or ability to care for themselves, coupled with the death of spouses, family and friends, could leave them feeling isolated and lacking control over their lives. Undiagnosed depression, unresolved issues from their past, and stress-related triggers from retirement, such as adjusting to a lower income level. An eating disorder can also be a form of attention seeking, a way to protest restrictions placed on an older person by their family or care facility, or a challenge of limited family visits. Again, its very sad and I hope the elderly suffering learn to let go of their attachment to their eating issues so they can live it up while they can.

So whats the solution? There isn’t one. Come to think of it, its a lot like cancer. You can treat it and put it in “remission” but sometimes it will rear its ugly head again later in life….sigh….

How do you think your eating style has evolved as you got older (even if you have never has eating issues)?

And it seems like its been forever and a year since I posted a recipe! So here’s a good one!

  • 1-2lbs if stew meat  (depending on how many people you are serving, if your serving for four, I’d say 3lbs is a safe bet)
  • 1 small/medium onion thinly sliced
  • 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
  • 3 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cup Trader Joes Harvest Grain Blend (a blend of Israeli couscous, orzo, Baby garbanzo beans and red quinoa. And they even sell it on amazon!)
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 bottle good quality dry red wine (or more stock)
    • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
    • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
    • 1 orange zest removed in 3 (1-inch) strips
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 cups beef/chicken stock
    • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced

    Preheat a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat with the oil.

    While the pan is heating, arrange the flour on a large dish. Thoroughly brown all of the beef cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.

    Add the wine to the pan and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon being sure to loosen up all those tasty bits. Once the wine has gotten hot add the browned meat, thyme, smashed garlic, orange zest strip, freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste, bay leaves and beef stock. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the liquids start to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 1/2 hours.

    After 2 hours add sliced carrots, onions, and 1 1/2 cup of the Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes more, until the vegetables and and grains are tender.


    16 thoughts on “Kitchen Sink Stew and Aging Eating Disorders

    1. I’m told that one day I’ll wake up and be gone for good… But I don’t know that that will ever happen : (

    2. Over the weekend I had posted on my blog about how I’m trying to slow my eating down–That’s one thing I noticed after I had my son. I had narrow windows to eat, shower, sleep, whatever when he was an infant, so I sped everything up, including eating, which I suspect is part of my weight gain over the past few years. I still eat slower than my husband who seriously just inhales his food, but I eat faster than I’d like, and I’m making a conscious effort to slow down.

    3. i definitely have a wider palate now. I practically will eat anything (well as along as its GF). But thats why ethnic food has become a favorite. More fun to recreate.
      Do they anymore of TJ’s delicious foods on amazon? I miss that place!

    4. I get so worried about the elderly eating issues. I’ve seen it happen with my grandma, as well as in the assisted living communities I’ve volunteered at. Like you said, I think a lot of it has to so with a decreased ability to take care of themselves, plus loneliness and depression in some cases.

      As for my own eating styles, I’ve always been pretty consistent (some might call it boring). I’d say I’ve been pretty consistent with my diet my whole life, though since I started cooking for myself in my teenage years I’ve probably tried a lot more new foods!

    5. I definitely worry a LOT about the pregnancy thing. I know it will be so triggering to me and that part of me will feel so compelled to restrict but that it will be so bad for the baby! Sigh. No real sense in worrying now, though, since there are no babies in sight!

      We learned in class though that if you’ve suffered from an eating disorder your whole life, and you haven’t really recovered by the time you’re in your 30s, then you probably never will. A sad but true statistic.

    6. Weird, I never think of elderly people having eating disorders, and the fact that you saw a 70 year old in your therapy class is insane! Why aren’t these ladies just living it up, they only have so much longer left!

    7. I honestly never even thought about the elderly having eating disorders, but it does make sense, and I can see where it could happen… so sad. 😦 My eating style is different in that I’m a lot more aware about nutrition. In the past I didn’t really care. 🙂

    8. Interesting point about the elderly. I never really thought about it, but there are so many factors at play there that you mention.

      I went on my first diet at age 9 with my Mom- The Atkins diet (yes, the first time it popped up in history). Then I was a yo-yo dieter extraordinaire for decades after that. No bueno. But shockingly I never developed disordered eating. Well, until I got really obese and just ate absolutely anything I wanted, regardless of hunger.

      As i’ve gotten older I’ve also gotten slimmer, but that was on purpose and with a great deal of effort. I have to put a lot of time and effort into buying, prepping, cooking food and I try not to eat in restaurants any more than I already do- when socializing or traveling. I also log my food and exercise on Daily Plate. It’s a LOT of work, and it’s what all of the health magazines/books tell you to do. And yet sometimes I feel like the only difference between me having disordered eating and not having it is that I’m not stick thin!

    9. Since I work with kids I see a lot of the eating disorders in the moms. You can sense the competition they have between each other when they size one another up in their Lulumon clothes when dropping off the kids. But its more of a class issue, since I only notice that with the wealthy population of parents and not the families from the lower-income schools. Its sad knowing that their children will likely value “thinness” as perfection.

    10. I couldn’t agree more that eating disorders are seen as only affcting a minority. I notice this being a guy, but I know it happens to other so called minorities as well. I think my grandmother is suffering right now, my grandfather died and she started dieting. She is showing all the symptoms and I am really worried, but I don’t think anyone will take it seriously :/

      On a much brighter note, that stew sounds great! And the pictre looks even better 🙂

      Have a great day!


    11. hahahaha i have to tell you i love your matza post. i’m so not jewish but so am jewish just because of where i live. i grew up LIVING on matza! we used to get so excited for passover and the really cheap matzas and we would take boxes of them on volleyball roadtrips with little containers of butter and creamcheese and sit in the back buttering crumbly matza for hours haahahaha

    12. My desire to NOT have an eating disorder as I get more into adulthood really drove me in my (continued) recovery. Honestly, even at 22, I felt like I was too old to be dealing with it because ED is viewed as such a “teenager” type thing to do/have. I don’t want to be that 30, 40, 50+ year old struggling with eating. It is not worth wasting my life on.

    13. one of my friends once told me that i was “too old to have an eating issue.” while it kind of straightened me out for a while, i can’t help but think of all the new moms i see around the suburbs. it worries me for the health of their children, but it also worries me because i know that one day (maybe soon) i’ll feel that intense pressure to get back to my prebaby weight, or maybe even littler. and while i’m aware that i’ll feel that competition, i’m not sure i’ll be able to ignore it either, ya know?

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


    Connecting to %s