Tag Archives: body image distortion

Survivors and Eating Disorders

Sorry for the delay- because I could not get permission to repost this article, I have to simply link you to the original.

http://www.aftersilence.org/eating-disorders.php

It is an excellent post on the relationship between sexual abuse survivors and eating disorders.

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One other short post, from a friend who survived a long battle with anorexia, on the topic of “pro-anorexia” tips:

I really, really oppose eating disorder tips since I don’t want anyone to ever have to experience the hell I have, but after reading this list of “tips” I felt compelled to share.

1) Turn off all the heat in your house and open the windows wide. Walk around in short sleeves and dip your fingers and toes in bowls of ice water every 10-15 minutes. This will do nothing to help you lose weight but it will help train you for the misery that anorexia brings in the form of being constantly cold. You are not allowed reprieve from this “feel the cold” stage as you will never be warm again until you recover.

2) Visit your hairdresser and ask her to pluck 25-50% of the hair from your head. While you’re at it ask her to overprocess your hair with whatever chemicals she had on hand. If the overprocessing makes you lose even more hair that’s even better. This step will get you used to the dry, brittle, falling out hair you’ll have once you’re nutrient deprived.

3) If you plan on purging you should visit your dentist and ask them to grind all the enamel off your teeth. While there also ask if they can pull out a couple of existing fillings. Your teeth will be wrecked soon anyway so you may as well get a head start and learn what it feels like to have super sensitive teeth once your enamel is gone.

4) Ignore all your friends. Don’t tell them why. Don’t do anything that would give them a chance to try and stop you from cutting them out. You will likely feel utterly miserable. Learn to expect that. You will feel miserable during every day of your eating disorder anyway. The loneliness is a key part of this misery.

5) If you’re in school you should throw away all your textbooks and order their equivalents in a foreign language. This stage will get you started on the cognitive difficulties you will suffer once malnutrition sets in. In a few months of anorexia you will feel like everything is in a foreign language anyway since you can’t read it because your malnourished brain has made you stupid.

6) If you have a job ask your boss to start withholding half your pay. With the amount of sick days you have once your ED is bad you’re going to lose half your pay anyway. This will help you get used to that. In 3 months you should quit your job with no backup plan. This will let you know what it feels like to be fired because your ED made you a lousy employee.

7) Throw away your calendar. Stop asking people their name. Leave your backpack and purse at home every time you go out. You need to learn what it’s like to live without a memory. As well as making you stupid malnutrition will rob you of your memory. Stand up every ten minutes to make sure you turned off the kettle/iron/tap. You know you are forgetful and you are anxious about that. Do this all day every day. You will soon forget why anyway as your memory becomes utterly useless.

8) Throw away all your moisturizer, body wash, anything that makes your skin soft and lovely. Like your hair you need to feel what it’s like for that to be dry and fragile. Think back to the last time you fell down a flight of stairs. With your malnourished body and skin you will feel like that every single day. You will wake up bruised and aching and scraped and you won’t know why. The answer is your ED. The answer to all misery is your ED.

9) Lock yourself in a dark room. Put up spotlights everywhere else in the house. Do not shower. Do not even wash your face. Play music that makes you sad. When it’s time for bed play a c.d. of a jackhammer. The e.d. will rob your ability to sleep well and you need to experience that. If all of this sounds like torture…it is. With this ED you will be sad, scared, and panicked all the time. This emotional hell will rob you of the ability to do tasks as simple as brushing your teeth.

10) Write a list of every good thing you want out of life. Burn it. As long as you have an eating disorder that is all you will have. You will watch every good thing go up in smoke.

If you’ve read this list and still want tips on how to lose weight then I beg you to seek help immediately. This list might be tongue in cheek; not every thing on this list will happen to every eating disorder sufferer, but for every bad item listed there are 101 others not listed.


Eating Disorders Statistics

This week I want to explore the ugly side of fitness: eating disorders. I think I can safely make the statement, that everyone who works in the fitness industry has had a run-in, if not themselves, than with someone suffering from an eating disorder. In an industry that focuses 100% on every aspect of your outward appearance, it is hard to escape the clutches of “am I thin enough”, “am I fit enough”?

To get started, we’re going to look at the boring- but vital- statistics. Some of these are startling, read on:

General:

  • Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.
  • Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. Only 35% of people that receive treatment for eating disorders get treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders.
  • Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S.
  • It is estimated that 8 million Americans have eating disorders – seven million women and one million men.
  • 1 in 200 American women suffers from anorexia.
  • 2-3 in 100 American women suffers from bulimia.
  • Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder.
  • An estimated 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males.

Students:

  • 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted “often” or “always.”
  • 86% report onset of eating disorder by age 20; 43% report onset between ages of 16 and 20.
  • Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.
  • 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.
  • 50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight.
  • 80% of 13-year-olds have attempted to lose weight.
  • 25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.
  • The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.
  • Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.
  • In a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83% that dieted for weight loss, 44% were of normal weight.

Men:

  • An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.
  • Men are less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders because of the perception that they are “woman’s diseases.”
  • Among gay men, nearly 14% appeared to suffer from bulimia and over 20% appeared to be anorexic.

Media, Perception, Dieting:

  • 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight within 5 years.
  • 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders.
  • The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.
  • 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
  • 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.
  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).
  • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991).
  • Essence magazine, in 1994, reported that 53.5% of their respondents, African-American females were at risk of an eating disorder Collins, M.E. (1991).

 For Women:

  • Women are much more likely than men to develop an eating disorder. Only an estimated 5 to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.
  • An estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of women suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime. Research suggests that about 1 percent of female adolescents have anorexia.
  • An estimated 1.1 to 4.2 percent of women have bulimia nervosa in their lifetime.
  • An estimated 2 to 5 percent of Americans experience binge-eating disorder in a 6-month period.
  • About 50 percent of people who have had anorexia develop bulimia or bulimic patterns.
  • 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.

Mortality Rates:

  • Although eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder,  the mortality rates reported on those who suffer from eating disorders can vary considerably between studies and sources. Part of the reason why there is a large variance in the reported number of deaths caused by eating disorders is because those who suffer from an eating disorder may ultimately die of heart failure, organ failure, malnutrition or suicide. Often, the medical complications of death are reported instead of the eating disorder that  compromised a person’s health.
  • A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that 5 – 10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover.
  • The mortality rate associated with Anorexia Nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old.
  • 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.

Athletes:

  • Risk Factors: In judged sports – sports that score participants – prevalence of eating disorders is 13% (compared with 3% in refereed sports).
  • Significantly higher rates of eating disorders found in elite athletes (20%), than in a female control group (9%).
  • Female athletes in aesthetic sports (e.g. gynmastics, ballet, figure skating) found to be at the highest risk for eating disorders.
  • A comparison of the psychological profiles of athletes and those with anorexia found these factors in common: perfectionism, high self-expectations, competitiveness, hyperactivity, repetitive exercise routines, compulsiveness, drive, tendency toward depression, body image distortion, pre-occupation with dieting and weight.

ACCESS TO TREATMENT

  • Only 1 in 10 people with eating disorders receive treatment.
  • About 80% of the girls/women who have accessed care for their eating disorders do not get the intensity of treatment they need to stay in recovery – they are often sent home weeks earlier than the recommended stay.
  • Treatment of an eating disorder in the US ranges from $500 per day to $2,000 per day. The average cost for a month of inpatient treatment is $30,000. It is estimated that individuals with eating disorders need anywhere from 3 – 6 months of inpatient care. Health insurance companies for several reasons do not typically cover the cost of treating eating disorders.
  • The cost of outpatient treatment, including therapy and medical monitoring, can extend to $100,000 or more.

Sources:

http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/

Body figure perceptions and preferences among pre-adolescent children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 199-208. Mellin, L., McNutt, S., Hu, Y., Schreiber, G.B., Crawford, P., & Obarzanek, E. (1991). A longitudinal study of the dietary practices of black and white girls 9 and 10 years old at enrollment: The NHLBI growth and health study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 23-37.


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