Happy Birthday America! Today is the Fourth of July…a day worth remembering and reminiscing. Today is the day America decided to become independent of Great Britain. This day represents freedom to make our own rules and be responsible for our welfare.
My day began with sunny, blue skies, white puffy clouds, birds singing. A picture perfect South Florida day! A time for America to remember and celebrate what was and what is. Although a truly glorious day, somewhere someone is mourning. Someone is sick. Someone is losing someone. I think of Mom and recall several Fourth of Julys after she suffered a massive stroke (days before her 64th birthday), I was filled with sadness and questioned how the world could still be moving forward while I was suspended in gripping emotional pain.

The same holds true on this fourth day of July celebration. Even though some of us might be grappling with an emotional, physical, or spiritual loss, the 4th of July must go on. It is no doubt a time for celebration, which includes: picnics, boat outings, Barbeques, et cetera. Of course, with celebrations come foods, drinks and temptations. This is the American way! But…perhaps not everyone is so festive. Many suffer from illnesses and losses. Certainly Michael Jackson’s family is mourning their loss. And in my own life I have losses and family members suffering from illnesses and aging.

I can’t help but wonder what role food plays in illnesses, losses, and death. Take Michael Jackson for instance. He was a 50 year old icon, weighing in at 112 pounds at the time of his death. It is my understanding he was somewhere between 5-8 and 5-10 in height. In my line of work (eating disorders, body image dysmorphia, and mood disorders) this would be a huge red flag. Did he suffer from a low self body image? It seems evident by his history of plastic surgery and total change in body appearance he did. Did he suffer from addictions to prescription drugs? With all the surgeries and other medical issues he had he was in chronic pain and may have become addicted to prescription medications. I have witnessed in my practice as a certified addiction professional, addictions to medications quite common. Did he have an eating disorder tied in? Maybe. I did not hear anything regarding this; however, he definitely was not of a normal weight and did seem to have an issue with growing up. Perhaps he kept his body frame boy-like to avoid growing up.

Many female anorexics keep their body’s girl-like, stop menses, and appear to harbor a flat chest to hide their femininity perhaps to be in control. My Mom did not restrict, she was the opposite. She wore her weight and then some. She ate large portions of high fat, salty foods. Perhaps she grew her body rather than restricted to accomplish the same goal of hiding her feminine side. As pointed out with Michael Jackson, men are not free from eating disorders and/or body image dysmorphia. My uncle, a rather large man, died from cancer. He ate heavy meals, did not exercise, wore extra weight, and may not have been spiritually connected. He died young…late fifties. I believe unprocessed foods play a huge role in healthy minds and healthy bodies. All of my self-hypnosis CDs address the importance of clean eating, exercise, and spiritual recovery.

And so here we are on this glorious day. The Florida sun tucked away for the evening as festivities of 4th of July come to a halt. I wonder, as the last bits of fireworks fall from the sky, sounds still within ear shot, how many close this day with full bellies and empty bellies both rumbling from restricting or binging. Many are alone and lonely, turning to food for comfort…or not. Eating disorders come in many guises. It does not matter if your black or white…or somewhere in between. It does not matter if you’re rich or poor…or somewhere in the middle.

Look at Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Oprah…all rich and famous, all suffered/ suffering from eating disorders and/or addictions of some type. Today, I celebrate America’s Independence. I celebrate my independence. I broke away from food controlling me…and now live free. I hope those suffering and hurting today will find independence from pain and sadness…and the loss of loved ones. Life is to be celebrated. America is to be celebrated. Let’s wave our flag proudly. We live in a country that offers help and hope to all.

Photos by: Dr. Lisa Ortigara Crego

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