What is a Eating Disorder?

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Once upon a time there was a small child… a child with wide eyes of innocence and security. A child that could laugh and play. A child that could cry and be comforted.

A child that could make silly faces in the mirror and be glad to see silly faces looking back. One day, this little child was crushed. Maybe it was because this small child was made to feel no good. She was told she could  not cry.

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She was hit a lot either  with a hand or a stick. She has been Sexually abused. It might have been the parental conflicts and family dysfunction, it might have been dad’s alcoholism or mom’s push of food as comfort, or maybe the death or abandonment of one or both parents.

Maybe it was the ridicule by peers or the ingrained phrase “you’d be better only if…” Maybe not all of these things, maybe just one… or maybe something else. Either way this child felt bad. As this child grew so did the bad feelings. Sometimes it was easy to feel loved with a lot of ice-cream.

Sometimes it felt good to let built up anger or sadness go with vomiting. It felt good to binge and then take laxatives as a means of reaffirming the bad feelings, to self-punish. Sometimes the small child felt in control of life restricting food intake or jogging for 3 hours.

The only thing this small child knew was that losing weight would make life better, and that concentrating on the food made it forgettable. The child became overweight, binging to fill the void. “Food is my only friend, it will comfort me.”

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The child could not seem to get enough, the void was never filled but temporarily. Plus, the excess weight made it easy to keep people away. To steer clear of vulnerability. “Life would be better if I could just lose weight.”

Cook books, this diet, that diet, baking. Endless hours in the kitchen preparing food. This child began purging after binges… the tension and self-hate seemed to lift, and the guilt from feeling like a glutton for so many things, for feeling selfish, for making a mistake, would fade. Laxatives and diet pills, diuretics and fasting. “My life will be good when I lose the weight.”

Striving for perfection, this child began to avoid food.  The control was unbelievable!  “I’m not feeling well” or “I already ate.”  

No more silly faces, but a tired and broken body reflecting back in the mirror saying, “just a few more pounds and life will be better.” Headaches,

dizziness, fatigue and joint pain. Isolation and loneliness. Hyperactivity  and insomnia. 

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Back and chest pains. Moodiness.  Depression on top of depression.  Sickness. “Life will surely get better soon…” And then… this overweight, this “normal” weight, this underweight child died. The doctors said, “heart attack,” “kidney failure,” “stroke.”

“We did all we could.” I cry for this child, in the end feeling alone and like no one cared. Feeling worthless and stupid, and like a burden to those in life. I cry for this wounded child whose life ends at 12, 15, 25, 38, 55, because of Compulsive Overeating, Anorexia or Bulimia.

I cry as I read the words, carved into this child’s  headstone, on a small grave now far away:

I need more time to find the real me…

to fly like the birds…

to be set free. Why couldn’t I stop until I had died?

It was hate for myself hidden inside.

“This Child” can be anyone from someone with Compulsory Overeating to Anorexia or Bulimic. It can be your husband or wife, your sister or brother, your son or daughter, your lover or friend, a parent or grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a niece, a nephew, a cousin. They might be male or female, any age, and come from any race or religious background.

It is me, it is you or it is someone you love or know. To have an Eating Disorder is to have a disease of the self-esteem, and to have a broken coping mechanism. Eating Disorders are about being addicted to a behavior that makes it easy to temporarily forget problems and feelings of depression and self hate, stress and anxiety, guilt and pressure. Just like alcohol is a symptom of alcoholism, food is a symptom of Anorexia, Bulimia or Compulsive Overeating.

The real issues are hidden away in each sufferers heart and mind.

Author: Amy Medina

 

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A. Early detection of an eating disorder may prevent a teenager from years of significant misery and disruption in his or her life. Take a moment and think about your teenager’s behavior and the following signs of a possible eating disorder.

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These are some of the warning signs of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Severe medical complications may accompany these diseases. Some of the complications are deadly.

From Focus on the Family.
  • It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men
  • One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia
  • Two to three in 100 American women suffers from bulimia
  • Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder (Note: One in five Americans suffers from mental illnesses.)
  • An estimated 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males
  • Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents
  • 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25
  • 50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight
  • 80% of 13-year-olds have attempted to lose weight

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Eating disorders are abnormal eating habits that can threaten your health or even your life.

They include:

  • Nervosa: Individuals believe they’re fat even when they’re dangerously thin and restrict their eating to the point of starvation.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: Individuals eat excessive amounts of food, then purge by making themselves vomit or using laxatives.
  • Binge Eating: Individuals have out-of-control eating patterns, but don’t purge.

Individuals with eating disorders are obsessed with food, body image, and weight loss. They may have severely limited food choices, employ bizarre eating rituals , excessively drink fluids and chew gum, and avoid eating with others.

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Depending on the severity and duration of their illness, they may display physical symptoms such as weight loss; amenorrhea ; loss of interest in sex; low blood pressure ; depressed body temperature; chronic , unexplained vomiting; and the growth of soft, fine hair on the body and face.

Anorexia nervosa.

Clinically, anorexia nervosa is diagnosed as intentional weight loss of 15 percent or more of normal body weight.

The anorexic displays an inordinate fear of weight gain or becoming fat, even though he or she may be extremely thin. Food intake is strictly limited, often to the point of life-threatening starvation.

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Sufferers may be unaware of or in denial of their weight loss, and may therefore resist treatment. According to some studies, people with anorexia are up to ten times more likely to die as a result of their illness compared to those without the disorder.

The most common complications that lead to death are cardiac arrest, and electrolyte and fluid imbalances. Suicide also can result.

Many people with anorexia also have coexisting psychiatric and physical illnesses, including depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, substance abuse, cardiovascular and neurological complications, and impaired physical development.

Other symptoms may develop over time, including:

  • thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
  • brittle hair and nails
  • dry and yellowish skin
  • growth of fine hair over body (e.g., lanugo)
  • mild anemia, and muscle weakness and loss
  • severe constipation
  • low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
  • drop in internal body temperature, causing a person to feel cold all the time
  • lethargy

Bulimia Nervosa.

Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by repeated episodes of binging followed by compensatory behaviors to prevent weight gain. Compensatory behaviors include vomiting, diuretic and laxative abuse, fasting, or excessive exercise.

Like the anorexic, the typical bulimic has an unusual concern about body weight and weight loss. Unlike the anorexic, he or she is acutely aware of this condition and has a greater sense of guilt and loss of self control.

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Bulimia typically develops during the late teens and early twenties. In contrast to the typically emaciated anorexic, most bulimics are of normal body weight, although weight may fluctuate frequently. Like anorexia, people with bulimia can fall within the normal range for their age and weight.

But like people with anorexia, they often fear gaining weight, want desperately to lose weight, and are intensely unhappy with their body size and shape. Usually, bulimic behavior is done secretly, because it is often accompanied by feelings of disgust or shame. The binging and purging cycle usually repeats several times a week.

Similar to anorexia, people with bulimia often have coexisting psychological illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and/or substance abuse problems. Many physical conditions result from the purging aspect of the illness, including electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal problems, and oral and tooth-related problems.

Other symptoms include:

  • chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • swollen glands in the neck and below the jaw
  • worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acids
  • gastroesophageal reflux disorder
  • intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
  • kidney problems from diuretic abuse
  • severe dehydration from purging of fluids

To qualify for a clinical diagnosis of Bulimia Nervosa, binge eating and related compensatory behaviors must take place at least two times a week for a minimum of three months.

Sufferers are classified into one of two subtypes: the purging type, which employs laxatives, diuretics , or self-induced vomiting to compensate for binging, or the non-purging type, which relies on behaviors such as excessive exercising or fasting to offset binges.

 

 

Dear Self,

This is a reminder To watch what you eat I know it sounds simple But it’s no easy feat. You’re going to be tempted. There’s food all around. You’ll want to give in And consume what you’ve found. I’m here to remind you Of what the mirror will say

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If you look at it tomorrow After giving in today This body is gross You weigh far too much Your stomach is bulging And so on and such. Then you’ll feel guilty You’ll need to come clean You’ll go to the bathroom.

So you won’t be seen Your finger will go down Your sin will come out There’s no time for questions.

here’s no room for doubt When you are done You’ll feel blank inside This is too much to bear Too much to hide To avoid this dilemma I’m reminding you You’d rather not eat Than regret when you do.

Sincerely, Self

Who Are Some Famous People that Have this Problem…..

Katherine McPhee

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American Idol runner-up, struggled with bulimia while auditioning for American Idol in San Francisco in August 2005. She suffered from an eating disorder for 6 years, since she was 17 years old. After her audition was successful, Katharine decided to get help.

“My bulimia was really getting out of control.” She enrolled at Los Angeles’s Eating Disorder Center of California, where she spent three months undergoing group and individual therapy six days a week. Katharine says today that American Idol has saved her life.

She believes that if she didn’t audition for the show, she would probably still struggle. Katharine has learned that there is no “bad” food – you can have everything as long as you watch how much you eat.

Paula Abdul

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Dancer, choreograph and singer Paula Abdul (American Idol Judge) battled bulimia and decided to check herself in a clinic, back in 1994. Her negative feelings about her own body image came as early as seven years old when she began dancing, but “it didn’t manifest into a full-blown eating disorder until I was in high school.

Today Paula Abdul is a spokesperson for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Paula courageously speaks out about her own past battles, in hopes of encouraging young women to take the scary, but necessary, steps to seek help.

“It is one of the toughest things to talk about, bar none, and it is one of the hardest disorders to deal with because it’s not black or white. Eating disorders really have nothing to do with food, it’s about feelings.”

 

Princess Diana

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Diana, Princess of Wales: Princess Diana struggled with an eating disorder and also admitted that she used to self-harm herself. The following is an extract of an interview of Princess Diana about her battle with bulimia – “I had bulimia for a number of years.

And that’s like a secret disease. You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don’t think you’re worthy or valuable. You fill your stomach up four or five times a day – some do it more – and it gives you a feeling of comfort.

It’s like having a pair of arms around you, but it’s temporarily, temporary. Then you’re disgusted at the bloatedness of your stomach, and then you bring it all up again.

And it’s a repetitive pattern, which is very destructive to yourself.” Diana also admitted in a television interview that she intentionally cut her arms and legs and had thrown herself down a flight of stairs on more than one occasion.

Diana died tragically in a car accident involving a paparazzi chase in August 1997.

Karen Carpenter

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Karen Carpenter, an American musician, was one of the all time great musical sensations of the 70s. On the stage she was glamorous, famous and loved by the crowd.
But amidst all this fame and fortune, Karen Carpenter was suffering from an eating disorder not uncommon among the American population.
Though the disorder was not rare, it was rarely talked about and most people at that time had never heard of the term Anorexia Nervosa.
The death of Karen Carpenter in 1983 was an eye opener, to millions of people the world over, to this life threatening disease.
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I found this beautiful letter that I hope will help all who have an Eating Disorder….
Dear Beautiful Girl,
You are more than a reflection in the mirror and more than the number on a scale and more that the size of your jeans. You are YOU.  In all the world there is not another like you. Why do we as women have such a hard time accepting ourselves for who we are, where we are?  When did you become a body instead of a being?
 
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My answer is probably different than yours yet it leads us both to the same place of discontentment.  We rejoice over the dimples in a babies thighs or the little rolls on a toddlers tummy, yet we can stand in front of a mirror (which by the way, is no more than a piece of glass)  and berate ourselves for hours at a time for these very same characteristics.
Why?  For some it’s learned behavior I suppose.
 
We’ve grown up in a society that teaches us from early on that beauty is skin deep. That who we are and what we can be IS determined by the reflection, by the number, or by the size.  For some it goes deeper.
 
How we view our bodies has developed as a result of some kind of trauma.  Abuse in any form can destroy how we view ourselves. Abuse by others and also abuse also abuse we inflict on our own bodies, and on the souls living within our skin.
 
My body  isn’t perfect.  It wasn’t when it was 20lbs lighter nor was it when it was 20lbs heavier. I am short, but by the worlds standards.   I will never qualify as a ” SUPERMODEL.”   But at what point will I allow myself to say, “screw the worlds standards,” and decide that who I am is GOOD ENOUGH. 
When will I accept that my God Given Gifts and abilities not NOT change regardless of whether The Gap tells me I’m a a size 2 or size or 20.  So many days I begin by standing on this little white square that I have given complete power to. 
This box can in a matter of 5 seconds determine the mood I start my day in.  Whether I eat or don’t eat can be decided by this box.
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Whether I dress to be noticed or hide by body….also determined by it.  If you take this contraption apart, you will find one tiny metal spring. I’ve given the control of my life, of my emotions, over to a 2″ piece of metal. Kinda eye opening to look at it that way.
 
If I got up every morning and looked at the spring instead of what it’s housed in, would it have as much power?  I don’t think so . Honestly, I think it would feet pretty silly.  So why do I give my body,my ‘house’ more power than the soul within it? 
 
My body is visible.  Your body is visible.  And yet everything that controls the outside is located INSIDE.  So why do we put the constant focus on what’s displayed on the outside? 
I’ve looked a complete mess lately!  Hair every which way, baggy clothes, no makeup….In some ways I believe that my outside is finally lining up with the ‘spring’  inside of me. 
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I’m allowing myself to just BE.  No expectations, no pretenses. It’s just me.  Take me or leave me,   because if my appearance is why you love me, I’d rather you didn’t bother. I’d rather be loved for my unloveliness than idolized for someone I’m not.
 
You, my friend, and my sister are 100% flawed perfection!  If you were perfect, people would be intimidated by you. Your are Beautiful, absolutely stunning in who you are, because the spring inside you is lovely, YOU are Lovely!  You radiate life and joy and love.
Life, joy, and love are the best examples of beauty that I can think of.  So girlfriend, OWN who you! Allow yourself to look in the mirror and tell the girl within you how absolutely gorgeous she is. I know  she needs to hear it right now.
Build her up instead of tearing her down, and praise the God who handcrafted her for what an amazing and awe-inspired work of beauty he created.
 
You are beautiful and oh so loved…..
XOXOXOXOXO
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Recovering from an eating disorder takes time. There are no quick fixes or miracle cures, so it’s important to have patience and compassion.
Don’t put unnecessary pressure on your loved one by setting unrealistic goals or demanding progress on your own timetable.
Provide hope and encouragement, praise each small step forward, and stay positive through struggles and setbacks.

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For more information on this problem visit the websites below……..

Information & Referral Helpline – Eating disorders helpline offers advice and referrals. Includes an online directory of treatment providers and support groups. (National Eating Disorders Association)

 Eating Disorder Hope Dedicated to offering hope, support and encouragement to those suffering with eating disorders and their loved ones.

Don’t Give Up Hope!

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Hello, We are very excited to be here. We hope you will like our website and come back often. We have 10 children between us and 25 grandchildren. We love anything family related. Dennis is a network dispatcher and Barbara works in the food industry and just finished a course in Medical Coding. Thank you for visiting.

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