Back To School Is A Good Time To Raise Eating Disorder Awareness
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10-20-12 Category: Health and Wellness

Eating Disorder Awareness

During this time of year, as another school year gets underway, it is a great time to be reminded of what our kids might be experiencing. Back to school time means back to a whole host of situations and sets of circumstances that your child may not have experienced over the summer. Since you cannot be with your child every minute of the day, it is important to educate yourself and your sons and daughters about issues like eating disorders.

As we start the 2013-2014 school year, let’s take this opportunity to raise eating disorder awareness so that parents, teachers, school administrators, and peers understand anorexia, bulimia, and overeating, the three main eating disorders diagnosed in the United States, and can identify the early warning signs and symptoms.

The Problem
Eating disorders progress quickly, often to the point of severe medical complications, and even death. Thinness used to be a sign of poverty and lower-class status, but that all changed when the fashion industry began showcasing unusually thin models, like Twiggy. Actresses like Audrey Hepburn replaced more full-figured women like Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe, which was quickly adopted by the film, television, and magazine industries. Thin was in, and it has only seemed to get worse.

Kate Moss hit the scene and young girls everywhere were shown an image of beauty that was thinner than ever. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, as of 2004, the average woman in the United States is 5 ft. 4 in. tall and weighs 164 lbs. while the average fashion model is 5 ft. 9 in. tall and weighs 110 lbs. The image of beauty, that is only realistic for less than 1%, has dominated popular culture. The impact is seen mainly on young people who are striving to look like the models on the magazines and the actresses on TV and in the movies.

What is Anorexia Nervosa?
This eating disorder is an addiction to weight loss and an obsession with body image that is characterized by food restriction and starvation. Although the goal is often dramatic weight loss, many people suffering from anorexia have also developed the disorder after being determined to gain control over something their lives.

What is Bulimia Nervosa?
This disorder is an addiction to binge eating, which leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and disgust that drive the person to purge (or to exercise to extreme lengths or to fast for extended periods of time.)

What is Binge Eating Disorder?
Also called overeating disorder or compulsive eating disorder, binge eating is the inability to stop oneself from eating more in one sitting than is physically needed. Obesity is just as dangerous medically as being underweight from anorexia or bulimia.

Early Detection
Eating disorders are like substance abuse disorders and illnesses in that seeking treatment at the first signal of a problem yields the best chance for effective treatment and recovery.

The National Eating Disorder Association identifies the warning signs you can look for to recognize each eating disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa:

  • Dramatic weight loss.
  • Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting.
  • Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g. no carbohydrates, etc.).
  • Frequent comments about feeling “fat” or overweight despite weight loss.
  • Anxiety about gaining weight or being “fat.”
  • Denial of hunger.
  • Development of food rituals (e.g. eating foods in certain orders, excessive chewing, arranging food on a plate).
  • Consistent excuses to avoid meal times or situations involving food.
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen–despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury, the need to “burn off” calories taken in.
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
  • In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns.

Bulimia Nervosa:

  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or finding wrappers and containers indicating the consumption of large amounts of food.
  • Evidence of purging behaviors, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics.
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen–despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury, the compulsive need to “burn off” calories taken in.
  • Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area.
  • Calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles from self-induced vomiting.
  • Discoloration or staining of the teeth.
  • Creation of lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge-and-purge sessions.
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
  • In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns.
  • Continued exercise despite injury; overuse injuries.

Binge Eating Disorder:

  • Frequent episodes of eating large quantities of food in short periods of time.
  • Feeling out of control over eating behavior during the episode.
  • Feeling depressed, guilty, or disgusted by the behavior.
  • There are also several behavioral indicators of BED including eating when not hungry, eating alone because of embarrassment over quantities consumed, eating until uncomfortably full.

Do you see the warning signs in someone you know? If so, reach out for help.

The staff at Sovereign Health Group of California is here to answer all your questions and guide you through treatment. Do not let a loved one continue to suffer. Call now!

Post by: Marissa Maldonado

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