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That Texas Mag Article 1

That Texas Mag Article 1

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Published by Jessica
Article on Eating Disorders
Article on Eating Disorders

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Published by: Jessica on May 09, 2009
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02/01/2013

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What Are You Hungry For?
When What You’re Eating May Be
What’s Eating You
Written By: Jessica Pierce
If you are like most people, chances are you don’t think twice about why you eat.Much like brushing your hair or taking a shower, eating is just another part of your life. You wake up in the morning, and give your body energy to fuel you through the day. At work, lunch hour approaches and you grab a bite to eat with friends. You may decide tosettle in a quiet corner, sac lunch and a good book in tow, and use that time to detachfrom the hustle and bustle of your workday. When the average 9 to 5 draws to its close, you make your way home. You may have a family to feed, or perhaps you have petsanxiously awaiting for your arrival, as they, unlike you, have not eaten. You kick back on the couch and watch television, or you use the time after dinner to take care of personal matters: bills, laundry, dishes, or returning calls left on your voicemail. Whenit’s time to crawl under the covers and give your body a good night’s rest after all theenergy it has expended, you drift into a deep sleep knowing that tomorrow will look much the same. However, you don’t really think about it. After all, it just is.Unfortunately, those who struggle with eating disorders don’t just think about it;the dread it. The seemingly simple concept of daily activities, food, and eating becomes atragic obsession for some 10 million individuals who suffer from eating disorders suchas Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and EDNOS (eatingdisorder not otherwise specified). Although eating disorders have the highest premature mortality rate of any mental illness, public awareness and understanding about eating disorders is frightfully scarce. Perhaps one of the most prevalent myths regarding eating disorders is thateating disorders are about food and weight, and logic would afford the assumption thatthose who have eating disorders don’t eat and are skeletal. Of course, it isunderstandable why an otherwise taboo subject, eating disorders, could be dangerously misconstrued. In today’s society we would be hard-pressed to not be bombarded withimages and messages of what beauty and success look like. Every direction we turn thereare billboards, commercials, or tabloids that somehow glamorize unhealthy body imageand unrealistic ideals.
 
 We hear stories about celebrity rehab, or we read headlines sprawled in large boldletters across the front cover of celebrity magazines that say, “Revolutionary WeightLoss Secrets Revealed,” “Scary Skinny,” or “From Addiction to Anorexia.” What we don’tsee is the facts. Rarely, if ever, do we hear or see the depth of despair and desperationthat struggling with an eating disorder, causes. Knowledge is power, and we as a society gravely lack both when it comes to demystifying and challenging this fatal epidemic. According to the Eating Disorders Coalition (2008), an organization that federally andlegislatively promotes eating disorders as a priority, “It is estimated that severalhundred Americans die each year with eating disorders listed as the primary cause of death.” Ask yourself, would the above headlines have the same fan-frenzy, if they read:“Eating disorders are among the top four leading causes of burden of disease in terms of life lost through disability or death,” “81% of 10 year old are afraid of being fat,” or “51%of 9-10 year old girls feel better about selves when dieting” (Eating Disorders Coalitionfor Research, Policy & Action, 2008).So, what exactly are eating disorders? What is it like living with an eatingdisorder? Who is at risk for developing an eating disorder and why do people developthem? Are Eating Disorders really that serious? Are Eating Disorders treatable, andmost importantly, are they preventable?
What Are Eating Disorders? 
 An eating disorder is marked by extremes. It is present when a person experiencessevere disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme reduction of food intake orextreme overeating, or feelings of extreme distress or concern about body weight orshape. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by emaciation, a relentlesspursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight, adistortion of body image and intense fear of gaining weight, a lack of menstruationamong girls and women, and extremely disturbed eating behavior. Bulimia nervosa ischaracterized by recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food (e.g., binge-eating), and feeling a lack of control over the eating. This binge-eatingis followed by a type of behavior that compensates for the binge, such as purging (e.g., vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics), fasting and/or excessive exercise.Unlike 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. Binge-eatingdisorder, also known as Compulsive Eating, is characterized by recurrent binge-eatingepisodes during which a person feels a loss of control over his or her eating. Unlike bulimia, binge-eating episodes are not followed by purging, excessive exercise or fasting. As a result, people with binge-eating disorder often are overweight or obese. They alsoexperience guilt, shame and/or distress about the binge-eating, which can lead to more binge-eating. Lastly, EDNOS (Eating disorders not otherwise specified) includes several variations of eating disorders. Most of these disorders are similar to anorexia or bulimia but with slightly different characteristics.” (National Institute of Mental Health, 2008.)
 
It is important to note thatEating disorders, not to be confused with disordered eating,are paralyzing, crippling, and potentially fatal diseases, and while disordered eating canlead to an eating disorder, one can have disordered eating and never develop a full blown eating disorder. What Is Living with an Eating Disorder Like? When someones life is consumed by an eating disorder, it is not living at all, it’s existing;it’s logically knowing what living is supposed to be, yet never being able to integrate thatlogic into actually being and doing; it’s about an initial sense of control, a sense of self,and a sense of being better; it’s about going through the motions that something else(the eating disorder) forces upon you, knowing logically that it’s your life, yetcontinuously falling prey to the fear of unfamiliarity, the fear of “what if,” and therelentless anxiety of prospective failure.Someone who struggles with an eating disorderspends so much time and energy trying to suppress and run from emotional pain, that it backfires. Not only are feelings of pain suppressed, but the ability to recognize feelingsin general, is also suppressed. Eating disordered individuals do feel, they just become sodisconnected from the process, that they don’t want to believe they can feel. They don’teat, they are eaten. The don’t use their voices, they use their bodies. They are lonely, yet with an eating disorder by their side, they need not fear ever being completely alone.They are, essentially, “fat” with feelings.
Who’s at Risk For Developing an Eating Disorder? 
Simply put, everyone and anyone is at risk for developing an eating disorder. Eatingdisorders do
not 
discriminate. Considering that eating disorders are secretive diseases,it is impossible to accurately pin statistics on where the greater risk for developing aneating disorder, lies.
Why Do People Develop Eating Disorders? 
“There are many societal, familial and individual factors that can influence thedevelopment of an eating disorder. Individuals who are struggling with their identity and self-image can be at risk, as well as those who have experienced a traumatic event.Eating disorders can also be a product of how one has been raised and taught to behave.Usually, an eating disorder signals that the person has deep emotional difficulties thatthey are unable to face or resolve,” (The National Eating Disorder Information Centre,2005
.)

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