You may be thinking, I don’t have an eating disorder. I don’t keep myself from eating food. I don’t throw up any of my food. So I’m okay.
But are you really ok? I recently spoke with a friend of mine who knows I work in the eating disorder space. She shared, “Marcella I just had an epiphany. I have an eating disorder. While I’m not throwing up my food nor am I avoiding eating food, I am struggling.”
“I find myself obsessing about working out. I hate the number on the scale even when I feel good. I struggle to eat certain foods because they have sugar in them. I find myself working out even when I’m exhausted because I’m afraid of weight gain. I am constantly aware of how I look.”
“I find myself comparing myself to others all the time. It’s exhausting. I don’t want to feel this way anymore. And I know it’s hurting my health. I’m getting injured all the time. I’m not eating enough to sustain my workouts. I need to figure this out.”
Perhaps you can see a bit of yourself in my friends’ very vulnerable share.
This is why I want to bring more awareness to eating disorders. Because I believe that more people in our country and around the world are suffering and not realizing they have an eating disorder.
We live in a toxic diet culture. Diet culture attaches our worth and value to thinness. Diet culture actively encourages eating disorders by prescribing and praising restriction, excessive exercise, calorie tracking, food labeling, weight monitoring and just being hyper-vigilant about everything we eat and how much we weigh. Diet culture blames, criticizes and shames bodies that are different in any way.
Diet culture abusively demands that we work towards a privileged body by any means. If we do not work towards a privileged body and/or do not achieve it, diet culture says we deserve any negative outcome, including any harm that comes to our bodies. Diet culture is so thoroughly manipulative that it has become interwoven into mainstream living and is embedded in our vocabulary and ultimately our way of living.
Do You Find Yourself?
- Obsessing over your diet
- Judging how many pounds you see on the scale
- Being hyper-critical of what you see in the mirror
- Working out even when you’re exhausted
- Avoiding certain foods even when your body craves them
- Feeling bad about eating certain foods or missing an exercise day
- Controlling what you eat to an obsessive degree
- Using diuretics to control your weight
The reality is that eating disorders are complex and intersected with demographics and numerous oppressions in our society. People with eating disorders experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. People with eating disorders struggle with their relationship to their body. There are many different types of eating disorders:
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
- Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
- Rumination Disorder
- Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)
It’s important that we understand eating disorders more fully as sadly, there are many stereotypes and misconceptions about eating disorders. In doing so, we can help loved ones, colleagues and communities get the support they need. We especially need to help marginalized communities who are struggling with eating disorders.
Eating disorders can be deadly.
Let’s raise our understanding around eating disorders to address this as a community.
Understanding Eating Disorders
I’m going to share three t common eating disorders. And how to identify if you or a loved one is suffering from this condition.
The most commonly known disorder is anorexia nervosa.
They avoid certain types of food and severely restrict their calorie intake.
They also have an extreme fear of gaining weight. They struggle with their relationship with their body.
Individuals with this eating disorder will typically binge eat foods. During a binge, they feel they can’t control eating.
After their binge, they use laxatives, enemas, vomiting or excessive exercise to compensate.
Similar to anorexia, these individuals have an extreme fear of gaining weight.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating is the most prevalent and common type of eating disorder. It’s also one of the most common chronic disorders among adolescents.
People with binge eating disorder do not restrict calories or use purging behaviors, such as vomiting or excessive exercise, to compensate for their binges.
People with binge eating disorder often consume excessive amounts of food and are consumed with guilt, shame and /or negative feelings after a binge.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, please share this article with them. Offer to listen and support them.
I am happy to connect them with the resources and support they need.
It’s important that we help each other given the amount of suffering eating disorders are causing.
The Rise in Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are on the rise. Due to westernization, social media, and the pandemic, we are seeing surges in eating disorders.
Some Concerning Statistics:
- Up to 70 million people suffer from eating disorders
- Severity and prevalence of eating disorders may be spiking even more due to the anxiety and stress unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic
- Eating disorders prevalence has “increased over the study period from 3.5% for the 2000–2006 period to 7.8% for the 2013–2018 period”
We know we have a problem. The best way we can address eating disorders is by collectively building awareness. Educating ourselves about these challenges.
Navigating the world of eating disorders is not easy. It’s complex and nuanced.
That’s why I’m here to help.
If your team, company, school, community or organization is struggling with eating disorders, I’m would like to help.
No matter what specific challenge you are facing, I provide customized training around eating disorders.
Let’s connect and see what we can build to get you and your team back on track.