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Up until now you probably haven’t really paid too close attention to your weight. You’ve probably been more focused on your height and growing taller, making you feel more “grown up,” but now, being in middle school and starting to have attractions, you start to think about your overall physical appearance. This is true in both boys and girls but it is especially evident in girls. That awareness can lead to some serious eating problems.
Pick up any magazine, look at any billboard, look at commercials on TV, look at actresses, models and singers and you will notice that, for the most part, they are all “thin” and sometimes “really thin.” Fashion magazines often use girls between the ages of 12 and 15 to model “grown up” clothing. This projects the image that “women” should look like young “girls.”
These girls (made to look like grown women) barely have any figure yet but girls and women who read and look at these magazines see the glamour and think that in order to have glamour and excitement in their life, they must look like these girls (unrealistic women). Shapes, curves and any meat on their bones becomes a “no-no” and so they alter their eating habits so they can try to transform their bodies into what they perceive is the “perfect” body.
Boys can fall into this category as well but mostly, boys reinforce the ultra-thin image by their verbal and outward display of their “enjoyment” at looking at these unrealistic, flawless girl-like women. They find them “attractive” and berate or snicker at girls who don’t fit into the mold. This then causes the girls around them to look at their own bodies in a very negative, sometimes hateful, way. It then becomes a young girl’s thought process to believe that in order to get a boy to like her and to look at her, she must look like what the boy(s) seem to like in physical appearance. Food then becomes their enemy to achieving that goal.
Eating disorders are then borne out of extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight. How a person reacts in attacking their own bodies is done in a number of different ways that can include becoming anorexic, bulimic or a binge eater. There are several other forms of eating disorders but for this quiz, we will focus on these three.
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3 Types of Eating Disorders
1. Anorexia Nervosa:
This is an eating disorder where a person literally stops eating so that they starve themselves.
A person suffering from anorexia will display certain characteristic symptoms that can include an intense fear of gaining weight, an extreme obsession with needing to lose weight, an inability to see their own weight loss, an over revulsion reaction to food; and on occasion binge eating and then purging (throwing-up) what was just eaten.
As the body is being starved of food and energy, the heart slows and blood pressure drops. Bone density decreases making the bones brittle and more susceptible to breaking. The body’s muscles weaken and shrink. Extreme fatigue sets in and fainting spells can begin and increase in number. The hair follicles weaken and hair loss occurs. The skin becomes dry.
Of all those who suffer from anorexia, 90-95% of them are female. Up to 20% of people who are anorexia will die from it making anorexia one of the highest causes of death over any other mental health condition. Anorexia usually first appears in girls in their pre-teens and continues through their teen years.
2. Bulimia Nervosa:
This is an eating disorder where a person will eat a large amount of food in one sitting and then immediately force themselves to throw it all up. They are extremely secretive about their eating so will often wait until they are completely alone before consuming any food. Unlike the anorexic that has grown to “hate” food, the bulimic loves food but hates the end result of food, i.e., the weight gain that comes with it. So they “enjoy” their food in excessive quantities and then regurgitate it all so as to not experience any weight gain.
A person suffering from bulimia will display certain characteristic symptoms that can include frequent trips to the bathroom (so they can regurgitate), frequent need to run “quick” errands (so they can find a quiet place to consume their food), unusual swelling in the cheeks and jaw area; callused or raw knuckles from forcing themselves to throw-up; abnormal discoloration of their teeth, and excessive exercising, even after suffering from an injury.
As the body is being forced to frequently regurgitate food, severe damage is done to the entire digestive system. It causes stress upon the heart. The stomach’s gastric acid can literally burn away the lining of the throat and cause severe throat bleeding, as well as cause severe tooth decay and rotten gums. In many cases, bulimics use laxatives on a regular basis which then causes severe and chronic irregular bowel movements.
Of all those who suffer from bulimia, 80% of them are female. The bulimic sufferer, unlike the anorexic sufferer, often appears to have a “normal” body shape rather than looking extremely underweight. Most bulimic people are mentally aware of the harm they are causing on their bodies but suffer from the compulsion to eat huge amounts of food at one time. People who suffer from bulimia often also suffer from depression. The depression, along with the understood knowledge of the harm they are causing themselves, leads to a high suicide rate among bulimics.
3. Binge Eating:
This is an eating disorder where a person will eat a large amount of food in a relatively short period of time but does not do anything to get rid of the food that they have eaten. Rather, they will then go for a long period of time not eating much of anything (which can be days or even weeks) until the next binge hits. It is a cycle of feast and starvation, feast and starvation, feast and starvation.
A person suffering from binge eating will also appear to act as if they have no control over their life. Their behavior can be very erratic, being joyful and happy one moment and then depressed the next. Many people thought to be suffering from bi-polar disorder are, in reality, binge eaters. They have strong feelings of shame and guilt and feelings of worthlessness.
Many binge eaters, but certainly not all, can be diagnosed as being clinically obese. The binge eating can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol levels, gallbladder disease, diabetes and musculoskeletal problems.
Of all those who suffer from binge eating, 60% of them are female while 40% are male. The binge eater can be of normal weight or they can be heavy set. Binge eaters also tend to be loners as they suffer from a great amount of shame and feeling of being unworthy of friends. Their quality of life is very poor and lonely.
Because the consequences of eating disorders can be severe, even deadly, if you or someone you know suffers from it, it is extremely important to get help quickly. All three conditions, if caught early, can be overcome.
So, do you feel you now know a little more about eating disorders, their symptoms, consequences and facts? If you do, then move ahead and find the correct answer for each of the following ten questions.