NES – The unknown eating disorder.

It’s 2am in the morning, I climb out of bed, and off I head down to the kitchen to raid the fridge and the cupboards to see what goodies can be devoured. I try to stop myself and no matter how hard and as much as I know what i’m doing I just can’t seem to stop. You may be inclined to think that I never ate much that day, or that I’m just particularly hungry that night, but the truth is much darker.

You see I suffer from Night Eating Syndrome, a type of eating disorder that has similar characteristics of binge Eating Disorder and Sleep Related Eating Disorder. For years now I have woke up every night, between 2-4 times a night to eat. It didn’t start off that way though. At first it was only a couple of times a week, but over the years as my stress levels rose and I had more children and responsibility to shoulder I developed Anxiety Disorder and my my nocturnal eating habits gradually worsened. It’s like the half of my brain that controls my thinking is fully aware and tells me to stop! I shouldn’t be doing this, but the other half that controls my movement just won’t let me and I continue to gorge on my partners lunch for work the next day, or pies that I don’t even really like, filled with disgust at myself that I just can’t seem to stop. Then comes the worrying about having to explain it, trying to think up something to say to brush it off with a joke or even avoid the conversation completely.

I decided one day I wanted to try and find out why I just didn’t have the willpower to stop myself from doing this. The shame and guilt I felt in the mornings when I saw the trail of destruction left behind in the kitchen from the night before, well lets just say it deflates you. So I typed in ‘why can’t I stop eating at night’ and what came up made me cry with relief. I finally found the answer and realised that there was something wrong with me and I wasn’t alone.

So what is NES exactly? NES was first discovered by Dr Albert Skunkard, a pioneer in eating disorder research, in 1955. It is characterized by a delayed circadian pattern of food intake, and is currently in the other specified feeding or eating disorder category of the DSM-5. Although it is now recognised as an eating disorder in the US, as far as I’m aware it is only just been recognised as one here in the U.K, and many GP’s have never heard of it. So what are the signs and symptoms of NES?

The Anorexia Nervosa & related eating disorders and the Walden eating disorders treatment center define the NES symptoms as:

  • The person has little or no appetite for breakfast. Delays the first meal for several hours after waking up. Is not hungry or is upset about how much was eaten the night before.
  • Eats more food after dinner than during that meal.
  • Eats more than half of their daily food intake during and after dinner but before breakfast (typically between 8pm and 4am for myself) and may leave the bed to snack at night.
  • This pattern has persisted for 2 months.
  • Person feels tense, anxious, upset or guilty while eating.
  • Has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep and will wake frequently to eat.
  • Foods ingested are normally carbohydrates: sugar and starch.
  • Behaviour is not like binge eating which is done in relatively short episodes. NES involves continual eating throughout evening hours and produces guilt and shame not enjoyment.

The underlying causes of NES are still being identified and treatment plans developed but one theory is that people with this condition have significantly lower levels of the sleep hormone melatonin, and the appetite hormone leptin.

So finally I have found a reason for this nightmare. I’m not greedy, I do have willpower and self-control, its just switched off at night. Apparently nearly 1-2% of the general population have this problem however it could be more, but research shows most people may be embarrassed to come forward. I can definitely vouch for that.

Throughout my research into NES I also realised that a friend of mine may also have this disorder. Many a night we have just missed one another on the way to the kitchen, a desperate dash to see who makes it to the left over pizza first, a relieved disappointment if it wasn’t you.

I discussed it with her and added her to the only support group I have managed to find on social media, and together we continue to help each other on this battle. I really just wanted to post this to make other people aware. So if you find yourself frquently plauged with midnight snacking you may just be falling prey to Night Eating Syndrome.

VA

 

Halloween

29th Oct 2017

As this October 31st approaches, we see the shops filled with sweets and Halloween treats, outfits galore for people to dress up. In my day it was a black bag as my witches dress, an old broom, a turnip and mums make up. Others wrapped their kids in toilet roll as mummies or whatever other wacky ideas they and their parents think up. You got outfits in the shops sure, but, mid to late 80s most people couldn’t afford them.
As we waited for darkness to fall, we made our outfits of choice, turnips were at the ready, the buzz of excitable chatter of what ghosts and ghouls we may meet and if they would know we weren’t one of them, and of course what treats we would get for our hard work. Then off we would go, filled with trepidation and glee at the fear of the dark unknown, down the eerie streets for a fun filled hour or so of knocking doors to sing rhymes and songs. We stopped to admire our friends and neighbors efforts and see what goodies they got, as we headed home for some apple dooking, and ghost stories of our towns myths and legends and our gruesome pasts, (if any) as we contentedly ate our nights prizes. Fast forward 25 years and its completely different story.
Parents scramble to get their kids the most expensive outfits, as they get them ready for parties. Young adults rush to book make up appointments to get the best fancy dress make up they can, as they decorate their houses with all the usual Halloween effects, lost in the haze of sweets, parties and alcohol. No one ever really stops to think about the history of our “all hallows eve” and where our traditions originated from. Or what they meant to our ancestors of the past, and how they differ depending on what parts of the country people may be from. Most Halloween traditions come from Ireland, such as the myth of stingy jack which is where pumpkin carving originated from. In Ireland and Scotland turnips were used and as settlers moved to America found that pumpkins were a much better option. Trick or treating also originated in Ireland and most of today,s traditional Halloween party games.
In Ireland in the days of the Celts, the pagan tradition of Samhain, was their new year. They believed that as we moved from one year to another, the living and the dead would overlap and demons and spirits would be able to walk the earth. So they dressed up so if they were to encounter one they would be mistaken for one of them. Offerings from the recent harvest would be left outside houses to offer to the spirits in honour of their dead ancestors, bonfires would be lit to see the spirits on their way and keep them away from the living. It was only in 601AD that the church ordered pagan festivals to be incorporated into christian festivals in the hope they would convert. Samhain is still celebrated in many countries today among modern witches and druids.
So as you apply your Halloween make up, get your outfit ready, dress the kids and rush off to that party, take time to reflect on your passed loved ones. Remember them, honour them, and thank them for what you have today because of them. Remember that Halloween isn’t all about spending money and whose the best dressed, its about the tradition of honoring and respecting the dead. So go to your parties, have amazing fun, its allowed, but just light a candle, say a blessing and leave a small offering and remember your ancestors with love, respect and pride.

First blog post by Vicious Adventure

So here I am little old me in the big bad world of online blogging. I must say I’m fairly new to this and needed just a little help to set this up. For me this is the first step to my freelance writing career.  “Hmmm” I hear you say, “what sudden epiphany did you have that made you choose this path?” Well I shall tell you my friend.

For a long time now I’ve been trudging through life, knowing what I want to do but never really knowing.  Always wondering, hoping and praying to the universe for there to be a better plan for me. You see I’m a bit like a wet sponge, I soak up knowledge and information, however I never really have an outlet for it apart from my friends and family, and they tend to tell me I talk too much already, so I kind of just let my head burst with this network of information I want to shout about.

So there I was one Sat night on the bus home from my care worker job in Edinburgh, doing the usual and scrolling through Facebook trying to not draw attention from a drunken group of revelers on their way home, when I came across a sponsored post about getting paid to write. Ping! You can get paid for writing. Ping! I like to write. Ping Ping Ping. It was like all of a sudden big ole universe answered my prayers in the most unexpected way. I clicked on the post, had a read and liked what I saw.

I don’t know why writing for a career never entered my head. I think I always just imagined writers as being novelists or journalists for newspapers etc and that’s not really me.  I soon started doing some research on how to start a freelance writing career and discovered that blogging is the best way to get your work out there and show people your writing style. So off I went and googled how to start a blog. I really had absolutely no clue what it meant to buy a domain, and set up a blog or webpages, it hurt my head. I must say it was a bit scary, I mean I can handle social media and Microsoft word but this stuff looked technical. My anxiety soon kicked in but I fought that bitch (my name for my anxiety is The Bitch) and asked my better half’s computer savvy brother to help a gal out. Turns out my catastrophic over thinking thinking was just that, and it was actually pretty easy to setup.

So here I am on the first step of my journey to freelance writing thanks to a little help from family. I don’t have a particular niche, I’m sometimes a little bit strange and I’m most certainly out of practice with my pencil skills but I do hope you enjoy my writings on some of the wacky, weird and wonderful things this life has to offer us.

Happy reading folks 🙂

VA