Eating issues do not discriminate. They affect women and men of nearly every culture and race. The causes and consequences of eating and food issues may be more apparent in some cultures than they are in others, but they exist globally. For Mexican-American women who perceive food in relation to family, society, and culture differently than non-Mexican women, combating eating issues such as binge eating (BED) presents its own set of challenges. Although cognitive behavioral therapy-guided self-help programs have been shown to be effective in other segments of the population, Munyi Shea of the Department of Psychology at California State University in Los Angeles wanted to know how Mexican-American women would respond. In a recent study, Shea interviewed 12 Mexican-American women with BED and asked them to explain what they thought was beneficial and negative about the CBT program.
The participants reported several factors that were culturally relevant to their eating issues and expressed interest in having these items incorporated in the CBT self-guided program. One aspect of food the women talked about was the significance it had in family gatherings. They also were concerned about feeling ashamed or anxious if they had to limit their food intake at family functions. Because Mexican-American women do not always aspire to thin body image ideals, they are less likely to counteract their BED behaviors, thus putting them at increased risk for obesity. Said Munyi: “Specifically, participants would like to have included in the manual more culturally specific examples, such as interpersonal scenarios, role models, and Mexican food.”
Although the sample was small, it gives a unique glimpse into the challenges that Mexican-American women face when confronting BED and other food issues. Munyi noted that although the women in the sample dealt with criticism and negative feedback from family members, they consistently demonstrated willingness to continue their CBT, even in private. This high level of resiliency should be encouraging for clinicians and clients alike. Munyi believes it is critical to tailor eating and food interventions to different cultural subsets in order to achieve the most effective outcome possible.
Shea, Munyi, Luz Uribe, Ruth H. Striegel, Doublas Thompson, Terence G. Wilson, and Fary Cachelin. Cultural adaptation of a cognitive behavior therapy guided self-help program for Mexican-American women with binge eating disorders. Journal of Counseling & Development 90.3 (2012): 308-18. Print.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.