Eating disorders are serious and often fatal illnesses that cause severe disturbances to an individual’s eating behaviors.
9 out of 10 individuals with anorexia nervosa are female
I was first introduced to anorexia nervosa in 1982 while working for a weight-loss company. We finished a great workout, and I entered the locker room to shower. As I approached my locker, I noticed a young college student in tears. When I asked her what was wrong, she replied, “I just wish I could do this and feel good. I just wish that I could feel good again. I wish I could focus on my studies and not be consumed with food, with exercise, with gaining weight.”
I was stunned. All I saw was a beautiful and intelligent young woman. I sat; I listened and convinced her to seek help.
The trophy case at Mary’s high school commemorated her achievements. She was student body president, prom queen, and played three varsity sports. She also earned straight A’s. However, she still wanted to be better. Her future depended on it.
Desperate to get into a top school, she discovered there are thousands of other girls just like her. That is when she made a calculated decision. She needed to be number one, above average in something. She mapped out a plan to be the best—to be the best runner. She told herself, “All I have to do is beat Liz. She is the only one in the state who can defeat me. I need to cut my time. I need to be number one. I’ll practice more. I’ll train harder. I’ll eat less. I need to be number one.” In college, without that number-one spot, she still feels like a loser. Mary keeps telling herself, “I need to be perfect. I need to be.”
Anorexia Nervosa: An eating disorder characterized by extreme weight loss, poor body image, and irrational fears of weight and obesity. ~ Nutrition Through the Life Cycle
The primary symptoms of anorexia nervosa are the same today as they were in the 1980s. The National Eating Disorders Association in 2005 expressed Anorexia Nervosa’s four primary symptoms as (1) Resistance to maintaining body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height. (2) Intense fear of weight gain or being “fat” even though underweight. (3) Disturbance in the experience of body weight or shape, undue influence of weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of low body weight. (4) Loss of menstrual periods in girls and women post-puberty.
ANOREXIA WARNING SIGNS:
- Obsession with weight, food calories, fat grams, and dieting.
- Distorted or disturbed body image.
- Cuts out all sweets and fats from their diet.
- Fear of food.
- Severe weight loss.
- Hides weight loss by wearing baggy clothes.
- Skips meals.
- When he or she does eat, they take little bites and nibble.
- He or she is obsessed with the scale.
- Weighs him or herself two or three times a day.
- Excessive exercising or compulsive exercise.
- Sometimes paranoid denial of hunger.
- Eats foods in a certain order.
- Rearranges food on the plate.
- Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
- Behaviors and attitudes regarding weight loss, dieting, and control of food are the primary concern.
- Menstrual irregularities
- Metabolic imbalances
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Kidney problems
- Cosmetic problems
- Brittleness of bones
* Seek Medical Attention if you or someone you know has Anorexia Nervosa.