Children and Youth

Eating disorders don’t discriminate

Eating disorders can affect anyone -- and often the signs are not obvious to others

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week was held Feb. 21-27 with a goal to get as many people aware of the dangers of deadly eating disorders. Many people think that an eating disorder is just starving because a person wants to become thinner, but there is much more to eating disorders than that.

While some may think that these disorders can only affect girls, the disorders can affect anyone. They affect teens, men, and even some children are impacted.  Some people look as if they don’t have an eating disorder, but it is hard to determine just by looking at someone.

Eating disorders are more than just being underweight or overweight. It’s more about the mentality that comes with them, which is Often the most challenging battle. It is constantly being at battle in your head and having a terrible relationship with food either from restricting, binging, or vomiting. It is not just about the desire to be thin.

People battling an eating disorder have trouble socializing and often isolate themselves from others, which could keep them from finding a solution. This makes these people feel more alone and depressed.

Common symptoms of an eating disorder are: obsessions with food, compulsively counting calories, mood swings, and depression.

There is Anorexia Nervosa, which is when a person starves themselves, not necessarily fasting but restricting their food intake. There is also Bulimia Nervosa which is where a person vomits what they eat. Another eating disorder is Exercise Bulimia, where a person exercises excessively as form of getting rid of the food they eat.There is Binge Eating Disorder, in which a person eats incredibly large amounts of food in one sitting. Finally, there is EDNOS (Eating Disorder Otherwise Not Specified)  which does not meet the criteria of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder but may be a mix of the disorders or completely different from the the established eating disorders.

Tess Smith, the San Benito High school nurse, says it's a mental health issue that is very complicated. She says it is a need to control. She says an eating disorder is a complex, multi-level, physical, and mental disorder that requires lots of support. She speaks of her anorexic daughter and how it killed her to see her not eat and vomit her food, “it's very real”. It also brought attention to other underlying problems like ADHD and depression.

According to the NationalEatingDisorders.Org,  “Crow and colleagues found that crude mortality rates were 4 percent for anorexia nervosa, 3.9 percent for bulimia nervosa, and 5.2 percent for eating disorder not otherwise specified. They also found a high suicide rate in bulimia nervosa. The elevated mortality risks for bulimia nervosa and eating disorder not otherwise specified were similar to those for anorexia nervosa.”

Laura Kelemen, an eating disorder victim who helps people with eating disorders through her Instagram account, says that she is in a way ashamed of having an eating disorder in the past because we are conditioned by society to think that an eating disorder is something of which to be ashamed of.

People suffering with eating disorders often feel lonely and depressed because they want to avoid situations involving food. Many will push themselves through incredible amounts of time exercising, which only makes the situation worse.

“It brings nothing but sadness and isolates you from better things in life,” say Emily Velasquez, another eating disorder victim. She says if you think someone has an eating disorder to tell their parents because, “doing nothing will not solve anything."

Not only are the people with these disorders dying because they commit suicide, they can also die from starvation. When a person has a very low, unhealthy weight they can have a cardiac arrest from a weak heart. A person with starvation symptoms might suffer with hair loss, low body temperature, weak nails, brittle hair, chest pains, muscle spasms, heart palpitations, and dizziness.

If you  or a person you know suffer with these symptoms, don’t hesitate to ask for help. To ask for help call 1-800-931-2237 (www.nationaleatingdisorder.org) who are open to calls Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST). It could be a matter between life or death. Don’t allow anyone to waste anymore of their lifetime caught up in an eating disorder.                              

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BenitoLink Staff