Mar 12, 2007

SRM-- eating disorders.

Do you like my acronym? I decided that Social Responsibility Moment was too long to put in every single Monday post.

I thought that today I would talk about Eating Disorders.

Is it about food?

Sometimes. The obsession lies with food or the abstention thereof.

What are eating disorders, really?

Here's my short, only relatively informed answer: Eating disorders are about control and release. They're about anxiety and depression.

Some common misconceptions about eating disorders:

1) it's solely about being skinny and competing with other women.
2) a person with an eating disorder just needs to start eating. That's the way to cure an eating disorder.
3) people with eating disorders are really cool because they have such strong will-power that they can deny themselves. I wish I were that strong, then maybe I would be prettier.
4) women with eating disorders are slutty and untrustworthy.
5) they're just trying to get attention. They're proud of their eating disorder.

These need to be debunked. They are utterly wrong. If you know someone who has an eating disorder, treat it like you would any other mental illness-- with compassion and patience. Be a friend; don't judge them. In most cases, women and men feel a deep sense of shame about their eating disorder, just as another person would a drug or sex addiction. Keep that in mind. Realize that there may be deep underlying insecurities and trauma that underlie their E.D. behavior.

Fact: did you know that a huge percentage of those who suffer from eating disorders have experienced at least one incident of sexual abuse?

Fact: did you know that eating disorders are the most fatal of the diagnosable mental illness? It has been estimated that about 18% of people with anorexia, and 10% of people with bulimia, die as a direct result of their mental illness.

Fact: did you know that the risk factors for Anorexia and Bulimia are age, (older teenager-young adult), race (caucasian), socioeconomic status (middle-upperclass), religion (protestant, religious)? There is a huge incidence of these problems in the BYU student population.

Here is a good link if you know someone who struggles with this. And here is another one.


Anonymous said...

What do you think about a neurological angle? Obsessiveness not traceable to how one has been treated, etc.

NoSurfGirl said...

I'm more pro-nurture than pro-nature when it comes to epidemiology, though I do think that nature has a hand in it. I think that people can be predisposed to ED, but I think that certain things in the environment (they can even be relatively innocuous at times) bring it out.

Just my theory-- I'm sure that plenty of arguments could be made on both sides. And, in the end, the mind is one of those things that we still know so little about that we probably won't have conclusive data about exact neurological roots for a while.

Lucy Stern said...

I have a eating disorder....but it is because I eat too much..

NoSurfGirl said...


sometimes I have that problem too. Especially if we're talking little debbies.