Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by a significant weight loss resulting from excessive dieting. Anorexia mostly targets female teens, but there is an increasing number of men motivated by the strong desire to be thin. People suffering from this have a huge fear of gaining weight, and still consider themselves to be fat no matter what their weight is. They are extremely sensitive about being fat and of losing control over the amount of food he/she eats. Anorexics strive for perfection. They set high goals for themselves and sometimes feel that the only control in their lives is in the area of food and weight. Periods of starvation, obsessive counting of calories, compulsive exercising and/or purging after meals are the most common symptoms of being anorexic. They feel powerful and have a sense of perfection when they make themselves lose weight. They usually have a very low self esteem and sometimes feel that they do not deserve to eat anything. They have a persistent concern with their body image, which can all be one of the physical indications that someone suffers from anorexia. Anorexics usually deny that they have a problem or that anything is wrong and therefore think that therapy will only force them to eat. As soon as they finally admit that they have a problem and do need to seek help, they can be treated through a combination of psychological, nutritional and medical care.
Bulimia is characterized by a cycle of binge eating followed by purging to try and rid the body of unwanted calories. Bulimia nervosa can be described in many ways. For example bulimics may eat in a descrete period of time (2 hours) an amount of food that is quite larger then most people would eat throughout the day. They also have a lack of control of what they eat. The binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors,both occur, at least twice a week for 3 months (on average). Bulimics often engage in periods of overeating followed by attempts to avoid weight gain. A binge is very different for all individuals. For one person a binge may range from 1000 to 10 000 calories, and for another a cookie or something that small may be considered a binge. Purging methods include vomiting and laxative abuse. Other forms of purging can involve excessive exercise, fasting, use of diuretics, diet pills and enemas. The bulimic may engage in self-starvation between binge-purge sessions which leads the individual into the same danger as anorexia. Bulimics are people who do not feel secure about themselves. They strive for the approval of others, and tend to do whatever they can to impress others while hiding their own feelings. Food becomes their only source of comfort and serves as a function for blocking or letting out their feelings. Bulimics also have very low self esteem, but are more willing to seek for help. There is two types of bulimia. The purging type involves someone who regularly makes up for the binge eating with self induced vomiting, laxative abuse, diuretics, or enemas. The non-purging type is used to describe individuals who makes up the binge eating through dietary fasting or excessive exercising.
Both anorexia and bulimia
Eating disorders are emotional situations that not everyone will understand. They may seem to be nothing but a dangerous dietary concern but for most women and men suffering with an eating disorder there are deeper emotional conflicts to be resolved. For anorexics it is harder for them to admit they have a problem, and for some of them it may be too late to seek help. Bulimics are more open and are willing to admit that they have a problem. Both disorders can be dealt with by physcilogical, medical or nutritional care.
Compulsive overeating is characterized by uncontrollable eating and extreme weight gain. Compulsive overeaters use food as a way to cope with stress, emotions, and daily problems. The food can block out feelings and emotions. They usually feel out of control and are aware their eating patterns arent normal. Compulsive over eating usually begins in early childhood when eating patterns are developed. There is a higher percentage of males then females who are compulsive over eaters. The more weight that is gained, the harder the try to diet, and dieting is the main cause of bingeing, which can be followed by feelings of powerlessness, guilt, shame and failure. In this world compulsive eating hasnt yet been taken seriously enough. Instead of being treated for a serious disorder, they are directed to a health spa or diet center. Compulsive over eating is a extreme danger and can result in death, but with proper treatment (therapy, medical and nutritional counseling) it can be overcome.
Eating disorders continue to be on the rise among athletes, especially those involved in sports that place prominence on the athlete to be thin. Sports such as gymnastics, figure skating, dancing and synchronized swimming have a higher percentage of athletes with eating disorders than sports such as basketball or volleyball. According to a 1992 American College of Sports Medicine study, eating disorders affected 62 percent of females in sports like figure skating and gymnastics. Cathy Rigby, a 1972 olympian gymnast, came forward and admitted her disorder. She battles anorexia and bulimia for 12 years, and went into cardiac arrest twice as a result of it. Many female athletes have a great amount of pressure on them to be thin from the coaches and judges. Coaches critize or make reference to athletes weight which could cause an athlete to resort to dangerous methods of weight control. In sports where athletes are judge with technical and artistic merit there is a huge amount of pressure to be thin because many of the judges use thinness as a factor when deciding the artistic mark. In 1988, a US judge told Christy Henrich, one of the worlds top gymnasts, that she was too fat and needed to lose weight if she hoped to make the Olympic Squad. Christy resorted to anorexia and bulimia as a way to control her weight, and he eating disorders eventually took over her life. At one point her weight had plummeted as low as 47 pounds. On July 26, 1996, at the age of 22, Christy Henrich died of multiple organ failure. It is usually difficult to convince athletes that they are in need of help because they usually believe that they will become a better athlete and perform better if they lose more weight. Gymnastics is one sport where the size of the gymnast has changed drastically over the years. In 1976 the average gymnast was 53 weighing 105 pounds, and in 1992 the average gymnast was 49 weighing 88 pounds. Coaches and trainers need to recognize then healthy training routines turn into an obsession where the athlete turns to drastic measures to become thin and to succeed in their sport. Resorting to dangerous methods of weight control to try and succeed and win competitions is only putting their lives in great danger. No gold medal is worth dying for.
One of the most stressful times in a persons life is when they enter into adolescence. This is a time when someone discovers who they really are. They become more independent, gaining more friendships, and bodies are starting to develop. Some teenagers feel that hitting puberty is a scary and unfamiliar stage in their life. Many teens arent aware of the physical changes that occur through this time. Once teens start losing weight, people might compliment them which makes them feel good. They may start to believe that losing weight will make them happier and people will notice them more. Teenagers are under the pressure to succeed and to fit in with their peers. Unfortunately, many choose actresses or models as their role models which can resort to dangerous methods of losing weight. They need to be encouraged to be themselves and to be happy about who they are. If they are pleased with themselves and appreciate who they are, they will be less likely to try and attain societys inaccessible ideal body image, because they will accept their bodies just the way they are.
Ipecac Syrup: Many people with anorexia use this syrup to induce vomiting. Repeated use could cause the heart muscle to weaken causing irregular heartbeats, chest pains, breathing problems, and cardiac arrest. Ipecac should only be used in accidental poisoning.
Laxatives: Stimulate laxatives are the most common laxatives used by someone with an eating disorder. Anorexics do not realize that this has little effect on losing weight because by the time they work calories have already been absorbed. Because of the amount of fluid lost within their body, people usually do feel like they have lost weight. Laxative abuse can cause bloody diarrhea, electrolyte imbalances and dehydration. Laxative abuse is extremely dangerous and can lead permanent damage to the bowels, severe medical complications and even death.
Diuretics (water pills): These are much like laxatives in the way that they give the person the sense of weight loss. When taken a person will only lose fluids and electrolytes. The bodies reaction will retain the fluids back which will cause a person to re use diuretics. Abuse of water pills can lead to dehydration which can also lead to kidney failure. Diuretics do not cause weight loss but can eventually cause medical attention.
Most individuals with eating disorders are treated on an outpatient basis. Those with medical complications due to severe weight loss ,ay require inpatient treatment or hospilization. Other individuals may benefit from day-hospital treatment. Treatment is usually performed in the least restrictive setting that can provide adequate safety for the patients. Eating disorders are physically and emotionally destructive. Treatment involves psychotherapy or psychological counseling, along with medical and nutritional support. The individual needs to learn how to live peacefully and healthfully with themselves and food. People with eating disorders need to seek help to enhance the recovery before it gets too late.
Signs and Symptoms
Noticeable Weight loss
Always being cold
Obsession with food, and calories
Excuses for not eating meals
Unusual eating habits
Noticeable discomfort around food
Complaining of being too fat
Restricting food choices to only eat diet foods
Guilt or shame about eating
Depression, mood swings
Evidence of vomiting, laxative use or diet pills to control weight
Frequently checking weight on scale
Fainting spells and dizziness
Fatigue or lack of energy
Dizziness or headaches
Shortness of breath
Irregular heart beats
Loss of bone mass
Kidney and liver damage
Cardiac Arrest and death
Signs and Symptoms
Bathroom visits after meals
Harsh exercise regimes
Complains of sore throat
Physical/ Medical Complications
Tears of esophagus
Chronic sore throat
Kidney and liver damage
Low blood pressure
Development of peptic ulcers and pancreatitis
Cardiac arrest and death
Compulsive Over eating
Signs and Symptoms
Fear of not being able to stop eating voluntarily
Eating little in public, while maintaining high weight
Believing they will be a better person when they are thin
Weight is focus on life
Hypertension or fatigue
High blood pressure
Shortness of breath
High Cholesterol levels
Cardiac Arrest and death
Eating Disorder Statistics
Eating Disorders affect 5- 10 millions Americans and 70 million individuals worldwide.
Approximately 1 million males have an eating disorder
At least 50 000 individuals will die as a direct result of an eating disorder
The most common behavior that will lead to an eating disorder is dieting
It is estimated that currently 11 % of high school students have been diagnosed with an eating disorder.
Time magazine reports that 80% of all children have been on a diet by the time they reach fourth grade.
15% of young women have substantially disordered eating attitudes and behaviors.
The diet and diet related industry is a 50 billion dollar a year enterprise.
81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. 51% of 9 and 10 year olds feel better about themselves if they are on a diet.
2 out of 5 women and 1 out of 5 men would trade 3 to 5 years of their life to achieve their goal weight.
The average woman is 54 and weighs 140 pounds. The average model is 511 and weighs 117 pounds. Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women.
If todays mannequins were actual human women, based on theoretical body fat percentages, they would probably cease to menstruate.
91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting, 22% dieted often or always.
0.5%-3.7% of females suffer from anorexia in their lifetime.
1.1%-4.2% of females suffer from bulimia in their lifetime
10%-25% of all those battling anorexia will die as a direct result of the eating disorder.
According to The Center for Mental Health Services 90% of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25
The Thin Commandments
By Carolyn Costin, Clinical Director of the Eating Disorder Center of California
One of the things that is so difficult to understand is the dedication to thinness beyond a reasonable doubt. I know it is hard to comprehend how omeone could relentlessly pursuer something that is killing her/him and ruining the family, etc. Who or what is telling her to do these things? Where did she come up with some of these behaviors? After working with several patients and thinking back on my own experience I began to see that one of the things that goes on inside is the formulation and adherence to self-imposed rules. I have formulated these rules into what I call the Thin Commandments. I use these to expose my patients rules to themselves. We go over the Thin Commandments and try to extract any other tules that they might be living by. Below are the ten most common eating disorder commandments I came up with out of countless interviews with patients. In treatment these cognitive distortions are confronted and the meaning behind them uncovered in a slow and careful process.
The Thin Commandments
1. If you arent thin you arent attractive
2. Being thin is more important then being healthy
3. You must buy clothes, cut your hair, take laxatives, starve yourself, do anything to make yourself look thinner
4. Thou shall not eat without feeling guilty
5. Thou shall not eat fattening food without punishing oneself afterwards
6. Thou shall count calories and restrict intake accordingly
7. What the scale says is the most important thing
8. Losing weight is good/ Gaining weight is bad
9. You can never be too this
10.Being thin and not eating are true sings of will power and success
Other then stress, and pressure, why do people have eating disorders? You have to wonder if some of the websites on the internet are helping to provoke eating disorders. I came across one website that is called Anorexic Nation which gives tips and tricks, diets and more inviting information to join this anorexic club. I think it is absolute insanity to be having this kind of website on the internet. The website makes it seem like u need to be skinny to live, and thats it easy to get skinny by practically doing nothing. They say that everyone should be skinny and that the average weight is fat and not good enough. I know that a lot of peoples eating disorders come from stress, family issues, or pressure, but u cant help to wonder is this website promoting some of the people out there?
Here are some examples of the information displayed on the website
T H E S T R I V E T O P E R F E C T I O N
A L L A B O U T E A T I N G D I S O R D E R S B Y B R I T T A N Y R O E S C H
A N O R E X I A N E R V O S A B U L I M I A N E R V O S A C O M P U L S I V E O V E R E A T I N G A T H L E T E S T E E N A G E R S D A N G E R O U S M E T H O D S T R E A T M E N T