by Rachel Flitman Do you feel scared of gaining weight?
Did you skip breakfast this morning?
Do you see models in magazines and feel envious of their bodies?
Are you obsessed with how fat or thin you are?
Have you ever made yourself throw up after a meal because you feel guilty for eating so much?If you've answered yes to any of these questions, then you could be among the 50 million people in the world struggling with eating disorders.
The two main eating disorders are classified as Anorexia Nervosa (self starvation) and Bulimia Nervosa (bingeing to get rid of food). Girls aged 12-25 tend to be most at risk of developing an eating disorder, with disorders most evident in girls between the 13-14 year-old age bracket. But what really is an eating disorder?
Many believe that eating disorders focus upon food, weight, dieting, and appearance? Indeed while these are symptoms of an eating disorder, the real causes come from a range of means, including emotional upset, stress, anxiety, depression, low self- esteem, guilt, and a need for attention, just a few of the possible causes.
What are the 1st words that come to mind when you think of the words fat and thighs?
For the word fat, I bet you didn't think of a substance necessary for the proper functioning of the major organs including the brain? Or for the word thighs a major muscle group necessary for walking upright?
Most likely, negative thoughts sprang to mind, as they do with many people when they think of these things. The difficult thing about eating disorders is that people with an eating disorder often don't realise or admit that they have one. If it is recognised, the victim will usually deny the fact and the disorder goes untreated, leading to continued hunger, negative feelings, under nourishment, and at worst, to death through starvation.
Before this happens, the person may become withdrawn, become increasingly depressed, may be uncomfortable around food, complain of being too fat- even when thin, wear baggy clothes to hide their weight loss, look pale, get headaches, might stop hanging around with friends in fear of being found out and they may even lie about their eating habits to friends and family.
Regardless of how thin the anorexics become, they remain firmly convinced that they are overweight, as if they're seeing their reflection in a funhouse mirror.
The question on everyone's lips however, is why does image matter to so many people? Why is it that over 60% of teenage girls think that they would be happier if they were thinner? Why is over 8% of the teenage female population anorexic? (That's nearly one in every ten people!) And ultimately, why do so many people die because they care so much about how they look?
According to a recent study, over half the females between the ages of 18 and 25 would prefer to be run over by a truck than be fat, and 2/3 surveyed would rather be mean or stupid than overweight. In another survey, conducted by Dolly, it was found that even though 8% of the girls surveyed were overweight, 47% thought they were! On a happier note, 50% of all anorexics recover fully, and there are many places that offer help. You can call the kids help line (1800 55 1800 - and the call won't even show up on your parent's phone bill!), talk to a councillor confidentially, or go and see your local doctor.
I once knew a girl, who thought she was fat,
So she lost a bit of weight and got a pat on the back,
But instead of stopping there, like of course she should,
She kept on going, totally ignoring her food,
Her friends tried to help her; they coaxed and they pleaded,
But still the girl knew it was not food that she needed,
The girl was happy that she was losing weight,
All that worried her was she wasn't feeling too great
She was scared, coz she knew she'd gone too far,
She was ever so hungry, so from the cakes jar,
She ate and ate till there were no more,
Then guilt washed over her and she fell to the floor,
She turned on her back and did mad stomach rolls,
Telling herself off for losing control,
She swore to herself she'd get rid of the stuff,
How could I have done that? She tiredly puffed.
She collapsed back down after doing 88,
And knew what she must do, to get rid of the cakes,
She ran to the toilet, shoved fingers down her throat,
And her food mixed with blood in the toilet did float,
At this the girl slumped from hunger and relief,
Lying there motionless, dizzy from fatigue,
A few hours later, the truth her mum did learn,
She lifted her gently, her face filled with concern,
They went to a doctor; who summed up her fate,
She was very sick he said, and was grossly underweight,
After much care and help, the girl recovered,
But she'd never forget how the problem had smothered her,
She hopes her story inspires others to get aid,
To conquer their fears, to stop being afraid
We are soldiers in a war where we are dying to be thin,
Get over it, do something, let your life really begin.
If you think that you might have a problem, get help. There are any organisations and support services that are able to help you tackle any issue you may be having.
National Body Image and Eating Disorder Awareness Week occurred a few weeks ago, and during that time thousands of people around the world were able to begin to overcome their problem. There's no need to wait til next year to begin to address any concerns you might be having. Confront any worries now to avoid them getting bigger and bigger.
Remember that scales are for fish, and NOT women, that beauty comes from the inside, not out... and keep in mind that the first 3 letters of diet are die.
Want to find help for you or a friend?
The Centre for Eating & Dieting Disorders: firstname.lastname@example.org South Australia
Eating Disorders Association of SA (Inc)
217 Portrush Road, Maylands SA 5069
Tel: (08) 8332 3466 Fax: (08) 8332 3430
Eating Disorders Resource Centre
53 Railway Tce, Milton, Qld, 4064
Tel: (07) 3876 2500 Fax: (07) 3511 6959
Community Nutrition Unit
Contact: Kaylene Allan
3rd Floor, Peacock Building, Repatriation Centrem, Hampden Road, Battery Point, Tas, 7004
Tel: (03) 6222 7222 Fax: (03) 6222 7252
Eating Disorders Foundation of Victoria Inc.
1513 High Street, Glen Iris, Vic, 3146
Tel: (03) 9885 0318 Fax: (03) 9855 1153
New South Wales
Eating Disorders Foundation (NSW)
PO BOX 532, Willoughby, NSW, 2068
Tel: (02) 9412 4499
Women's Centre for Health Matters
Building One, Pearce Centre, Collett Place, Pearce, ACT
Tel: (02) 6290 2166 Info Line: (02) 6286 2043
Northern Territory Association for Mental Health
PO Box 950, Parap, NT, 0804
Tel: (08) 8981 4128
Eating Disorders Association (NZ) Inc
PO Box 80, 142 Green Bay, Auckland, New Zealand.
Tel: NZ (09) 818 9561