It might seem like a small thing, but when you check the facts, eating disorders are becoming like an epidemic in America. Statistics show that around five out of every hundred women and girls have some sort of eating disorder. In this article, I want to identify what eating disorders are so that if you have a friend who might be suffering from one, you can help her.
WHAT IS AN EATING DISORDER?
An eating disorder is when someone is so obsessed about their weight or clothing size, that they resort to drastic measures to lose weight. This can be more serious than a lot of people realize. Research shows that 10% of people affected with some eating disorder eventually die from it. If you know someone who sounds like they might have an eating disorder, tell an adult you trust immediately.
The medical term for this is Anorexia Nervosa. This disorder is when a girl starves themselves or eats very little amounts of food. Someone usually becomes anorexic when someone makes an offhand comment about their weight or eating habits, such as if a family member says, "You're sure filling out," or, "Wow, you scarfed down four pieces of pizza?" It can also happen when someone has what is called a "distorted body image." This means they look in the mirror and all they can see is huge thighs or tummy rolls. They get a bad picture of what they look like and convince themselves they are fat, and so they try to starve themselves.
The medical term for this is Bulimia Nervosa. Bulimia can also be psychological. Like Anorexia, a girl is under the impression that she is overweight, but instead of starving herself, she eats all she wants, even to the point of over-eating, called "binging," and then "purges," which means she gets rid of it by laxatives, vomiting or medications. While this is also deadly, it also can decay your teeth from constant vomiting and make you unable to function properly.
OTHER NOT-SO-COMMON TYPES
Diabulimia: This is when a Diabetic person doesn't take the needed amount of insulin they need to maintain a healthy body weight, thus causing them to lose weight.
Rumination: This is when a person brings their food back up, chews it again, and re-swallows it so they aren't hungry and don't eat more than one meal a day.
Anorexia Athletica: This is when a person eats small amounts, and sometimes eats normally, but then exercises to abnormal extents in an attempt to lose weight.
HELP YOUR FRIEND
If you think your friend might have an eating disorder, you won't be doing them a favor by keeping quiet -- eating disorders are very harmful! Tell an adult right away if your friend is:
Constantly weighing herself
Eating very little or nothing at all
Going to the bathroom directly after each and every meal
Continually saying how "fat" she is
Emotionally worn out, tired, depressed.
Remember to never, ever, make a comment about your friend's weight, clothing size or how much they eat, even joking. And if you constantly speak about your size, your friend might become self-conscious about hers, too. This could be the beginning of an eating disorder. Instead of focusing on weight, focus on sports or other activities. Don't focus on becoming super-skinny. Be confident and have a good self-esteem.