Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Warning Signs

Eating disorders are very complex in nature according to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) they “arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, biological, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors”. There has been a plethora of research done on the complexities of eating disorders yet there is still so much learning to be done. The propensity of eating disorders is become so prevalent that it is very likely that everybody knows somebody inflicted by disordered eating. 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. Anorexia nervosa (significantly reduced appetite or complete aversion to eating), bulimia nervosa (binge-eating followed by overcompensation for the behavior by over-exercising and purging), binge eating (uncontrollable eating), and ‘other specified feeding or eating disorder’ are all spokes off of the eating disorder wheel. Although I can pinpoint the exact trigger that led to my 15 years of darkness, there were many factors that perpetuated the cycle of destruction in my life. My journey started as I stood in line for the school bus during my freshman year in high school; a male classmate of mine made a comment to me about my size and that is all that needed to occur to send me into a tailspin. I already had very low self-esteem and was surrounded by women in my family who engaged in disordered eating, so when Chris made his comment to me it was the last straw. Individuals suffering from disordered eating typically are great at hiding their behaviors, yet there are warning signs that can be spotted if you fear a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder. Here is a small list for Anorexia….dramatic weight loss, preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, dieting, and exercise, refusal to eat certain foods, withdrawal from usual friends and activities. Bulimia….unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area, calluses on the back of hands and knuckles, discoloration or staining of teeth, withdrawal from usual friends and activities, excessive exercise. For both Anorexia and Bulimia in general, behaviors and attitudes are focused completely around weight loss, dieting, control over food, and exercise.

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