#EmpowerALLBodies

Last night I was watching my normal YouTubers, and I got to a video that I wanted to understand. One of my favorite YouTubers is a competitive eater. Well, his girlfriend decided to open up about her eating disorder – Anorexia Nervosa. She also began taking on food challenges with her boyfriend, so I was interested in learning how someone who suffers from anorexia goes about transitioning to an aspiring competitive eater.

As I scrolled to the comments section, there were tons of praising comments for her, but I also saw multiple comments from young girls (around the age of 13-14) who said they have been dieting for a while and could see their dieting turn into anorexia. That made me think – how young are the majority of people who suffer from an eating disorder?

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Thirteen years old is VERY young to be starting any kind of diet. The body is still developing and needs nutrients in order to grow. So, I did a little research and found some scary results.

What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is a mental illness. The Eating Disorder Foundation describes it as “range of conditions that involve an obsession with food, weight, and appearance.”

What types of eating disorders are there?

Anorexia Nervous (AN) – An eating disorder that “involves severe restriction of food intake, leading to a significantly low body weight,” (The Eating Disorder Foundation).

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Bulimia Nervosa (BN) – An eating disorder that “involves cycles of binging and purging.  Binging is the consumption of large amounts of food in a very short period of time,” (The Eating Disorder Foundation).

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Binge Eating Disorder (BED) – An eating disorder that has “recurrent episodes of consuming abnormally large amounts of food and a sense of lack of control,” (The Eating Disorder Foundation).

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Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) – Typically described as more than just what is considered “picky eating.” Some children do not outgrow this, which causes the lack in nutrients for development.

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Diabulimia – An eating disorder that causes the “deliberate insulin underuse in people with type 1 diabetes for the purpose of controlling weight,” (ANAD).

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Negative/Distorted Body Image – A mental illness that is “an unrealistic view of how someone sees their body. It can also mean nonrecognition of themselves in the mirror.” For example, people with anorexia often see themselves larger than they are. This is what can cause and continue to fuel the eating disorder, (Eating Disorder Hope).

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The Facts:

  • 1.6 million people are diagnosed with an eating disorder.
  • Ages 14 to 25 are most at risk to developing an eating disorder.
  • In 1970, the average age of starting a diet was 14.
  • In 1990-present, the average age of starting a diet is 8.
  • In 1991, more than half of girls 9 to 10 years old felt better about themselves when dieting.
  • In 1991, 41 percent of girls in 1st through 3rd grade wanted to be thinner.
  • Every 62 minutes, someone dies from an eating disorder.
  • Ninety-one percent of college women admit to being on a diet.
  • Over 50% of teenage girls use unhealthy ways to control and lose weight (skipping meals, fasting, laxatives, etc.).
  • Eighty-one percent of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.
  • Eighty percent of women 50 years or older reported purging in the past 5 years.
  • Seventy percent of women 50 years or older also reported actively trying to lose weight.
  • Find more facts through the links below:

Possible Clues to an Eating Disorder:

  • Excessive exercising
  • Isolation during meal times
  • Refusal to eat out with friends
  • Use of laxatives
  • Calorie counting
  • Obsessive and anxious behaviors towards food
  • Complaining of stomach aches, nausea or constipation

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Resources:

There are tons of resources if you or someone you know has an eating disorder. Follow the links below for more information:

NEDA

Eating Disorder Hope

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So what is causing this harmful habit?  Is it the media’s portrayal? Women are often objectified in media. This only adds to the constant reminder of a Hollywood body is the ideal body. When did times change from a Marilyn Monroe body as ideal to this skin and bones distorted reality?

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It is important to note that while women are the majority who have eating disorders, men also have eating disorders. The most common being ARFID.

What can we do as a society to change this? The current change in acceptance of your body has been all over social media. Plus size women are not afraid to show off their bodies because they accept and love themselves the way they are. How can we share this beautiful idea with others?

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That is my goal for now. I want to find a way to change the numbers. Why are the majority of people using eating disorders to control their body? It is a parasite that is a hard habit to break, and I understand that. But, there has to be a way to lower the numbers. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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