On a Serious Note:
An organization recently reached out to me called RecoveryPride.org in an effort to raise awareness and offer support to those who may be suffering from an eating disorder. As someone who works in the fitness industry, I want people to feel empowered by their strength through balanced nutrition, exercise and community. For some, this area is isolating and dangerous. If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, you may find this article a valuable conversation starter or a sign to get help. This article was contributed from Michelle at recoverypride.org. If it speaks to you, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
A Look At Eating Disorders And Their Effects
Photo via Pixabay by Mark_Mook_Fotografie
Eating disorders come in many different forms, but they have similar effects on the body and mind. Extreme weight loss, hair loss, confusion and memory issues, organ failure, heart attack, stroke, and death have all been associated with these disorders, making them extremely dangerous for the individual. Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are a few of the most common disorders, and while much study has been done on the cause and effect surrounding them, there still remains a stigma attached to the words that keeps many people from understanding their nature. What many people don’t know is that eating disorders begin in the brain and take hold as a mental issue, which must be addressed at the same time as the physical problems during treatment.
Some who suffer with an eating disorder believe that they must deny themselves food as a form of punishment, either for a wrongdoing that is real or imagined. These individuals may also cut themselves or practice other methods of self-harm. For others, an eating disorder may come about after suffering trauma or living in a dysfunctional environment. Whatever the cause, eating disorders can wreak havoc on the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of an individual and often, their families suffer as well. It’s imperative that a person living with one of these issues seek help rather than try to get healthy on their own or self-medicate with substances, which is common with eating disorders. In some cases, the individual might use drugs or alcohol to suppress appetite or cope with the physical pain that comes with extreme weight loss. In reality, substances only add to the problem and do more harm than good when it comes to a person’s emotional state. They can also lead to isolation, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Some of the warning signs of an eating disorder include:
- Severe restriction of food intake
- Eating a big portion at the dinner table but going to the bathroom immediately afterward
- Hiding food, binge-eating
- Keeping up a hardcore exercise routine
- Excessive use of laxatives
- Obsessed with weight loss and the number on the scale
These behaviors can lead to issues with the esophagus and teeth, bone density, electrolyte balance, and dehydration. If you suspect a loved one is living with an eating disorder and their health is declining, don’t hesitate: reach out to them. Let them know you care about what happens to them and that you are listening. It won’t be an easy road to recovery, but it’s imperative to try and introduce treatment as soon as possible.
Substance abuse is a separate issue and must be dealt with as such. Contact a doctor, therapist, or counselor to see about starting a treatment program and finding healthy ways to cope and recover.