Pressure to be 'sexy, hot mommas' is causing women in their 30s and 40s to seek help for deadly eating disorders.

There has been a major increase in older women developing eating disorders usually associated with adolescents, such as the binge/purge cycle of bulimia.

The media displays mothers such as Angelina Jolie, Elle Macpherson and Victoria Beckham as the norm to strive for, which has contributed to this epidemic. You may have mothers and grandmothers living right next to you who have secret feelings of self-hate, worthlessness and low self-esteem. Some women managed to stop their eating disorder in the past when they were younger, only to relapse later in life as a result of chasing that ideal 'young and fit' look they see advertised everywhere.

Older women tend to keep 'their secret' more closely guarded than younger women. While at the same time they are trying to maintain and function in society as respected responsible parents, wives and employees - but with a dark secret.

These mid-life sufferers do not know how to live any other way. Their obsession with eating huge amounts of food and then throwing it all up controls nearly every aspect of their day. Some have tried to stop their eating disorder many times in the past but continually fail, so they just accept their illness as a part of who they are.

Fortunately, many of these women eventually develop a strong desire to maintain their marriage or to avoid being a burden to their children later in life because of health issues associated with their eating disorder. These can often become powerful motivators for them to try again to find help.

Luckily there are local professionals who can help as well as support meetings.. One such meeting is a 12-step group called Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA)

EDA is a group of people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so they may create balance in their lives and eventually help others to recover from eating disorders.

A new EDA meeting is beginning Aug. 11 and will meet the second and fourth Thursday of each month. All are welcome; beginners as well as people in recovery. Meetings will be held from 8 to 9 p.m. at West Linn Lutheran Church, located at 20390 Willamette Drive, West Linn in room 203. For more information, visit the group's meet-up website at

Michelle Kuepker is a West Linn resident.

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