Making Sense of Eating DisordersIN WOMEN'S HEALTH
More than seven million women and girls in the United States suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia. National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (February 24 to March 1) was established to spread the word about the factors contributing to these disorders.
The term eating disorder refers to any unhealthy obsession with food and weight that harms a person’s well-being. Some worrying over weight is normal, but those with eating disorders go to extremes to keep themselves from gaining weight.
No exact cause of eating disorders has been pinpointed. Trauma, extreme stress, or pressures from society are all possible causes. Eating disorders touch people from all walks of life, from poor to rich and young to old.
There are two major types of eating disorders, anorexia and bulimia. Sufferers of anorexia try not to eat and exercise too much to avoid gaining any weight. Anorexics usually think they are overweight even though they are actually often extremely thin. Bulimics eat mass quantities of food in one sitting and then vomit or use laxatives to rid their bodies of it. Called bingeing and purging, many try to hide their behavior.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (familydoctor.org) lists some common warning signs of an eating disorder:
- unnatural concern about body weight, especially if the person is not overweight
- obsession with calories, fat grams, and food
- use of any medications to keep from gaining weight, including diet pills, water pills, and laxatives
- throwing up after meals
- refusing to eat or lying about how much was eaten
- fainting or dizziness
- excessive amounts of exercise
If any of these signs are present in someone you know, urge him or her to seek counseling. Eating disorders can be treated and overcome with therapy. If not treated, they can cause serious health problems.
|Tips for Healthy Eating|
Nearly everyone has concerns about the food they eat. But choosing what to eat doesn’t have to be so difficult, if you follow a few simple guidelines:
Sources: www.familydoctor.org, www.ific.org, www.medicinenet.com, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.
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