eating disorders

Eating Disorders

Nicole awakes in her cold, dark room and already wishes it was time to go
back to bed. She dreads the thought of going through this day, which will be
like so many others in her recent past. She asks herself the question every
morning: “Will I be able to make it through the day without being totally
obsessed by thoughts of food, or will I blow it again and spend the day
bingeing?” She tells herself that today she will begin a new life, today she
will start to live like a normal human being. However, she is not at all
convinced that the choice is hers.

Nicole is one of the thousands of women who suffer from an eating disorder.
These disorders can be compulsive over-eating, bingeing and purging, or
starvation. The most commonly recognized eating disorders in today’s society
are Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa. “They are characterized as psychological
disorders, not just physical abnormalities.”(White 77) A short basic
definition of anorexia would describe it as: “A rare disorder characterized by
marked weight loss, an intense fear of gaining weight, and disturbance in the
experience of body shape.”(Nadelson 21) However, actually suffering through
the disease is much more complicated.

Often, anorexia begins with a period of dieting. The anorexic then begins to
feel unable or unwilling to stop dieting despite dangerous weight loss. “The
results of anorexia nervosa are often terrible to witness.”(Franklin 12) Some
of the signs are obvious to everyone; others can be concealed by the anorexic.
The physical consequences of anorexia can be anything from drying of skin to
altering physical structures of the brain. If untreated, anorexia nervosa can
lead to one final, tragic result: death.(Deitel C5)

Commonly referred to as, “The other eating disorder,” bulimia nervosa is
much “newer” than anorexia—-at least in terms of being recognized as a
distinct medical disorder. “Bulimia causes individuals to exhibit recurrent
episodes of binge eating, engage in inappropriate behavior to avoid weight gain,
for example self-induced vomiting, and are overly concerned with their shape and
weight.”(Sun-Sentinel 1A) Unlike anorexics, bulimics can keep their weight at
or near the normal level for their height and age. Anorexics, because of their
distorted ideas concerning, “ideal weight,” cannot. Bulimics lack the
discipline of anorexics. They can diet and exercise as anorexic people do, but
rather than totally sticking to their program, they periodically go to the
opposite extreme, compulsively devouring food.(Hax 93) Then the guilt of their
action leads them to purge, or vomit their food, and cleanse their system.
Although not as often fatal as anorexia, bulimia has many of the same unpleasant
effects on the body and can lead anywhere from physical weakness to heart
failure.(Sun-Sentinel 1A)

It is possible for a person to suffer from both anorexia and bulimia. It is
estimated that approximately half of all anorexics are also bulimic. Bulimia is
common in those who have been battling anorexia for extended periods of
time.(White 64) It is scary to think that anyone you know personally may have an
eating disorder. ______ of students surveyed at Bishop Eustace said that they
have participated in bingeing or purging. _____ percent have starved themselves
to change their weight and personal appearance. There can be many reasons for
these drastic, self-harming actions.(Epstein 40)

Explanation can be difficult, but in studying these diseases, researchers
often look closely at teenagers and preteens and at their family history. Eating
disorders can sometimes run in family health. In Bishop Eustace alone, ____
percent of students surveyed said that they had a relative with an eating
disorder. This percentage can help support the theory that family life should be
studied in cases of eating disorders.

“Lifestyle, upbringing, social environment, and other social factors often
are the largest contributors to why eating disorders are developed among today’s
women.”(Matthews 63) Many young women today blame peer pressure, comments from
coaches, boyfriends, and even parents about weight, and most often, the idea set
by media and the movies that, “Thin is in.” Stress from various situations
common while growing up can also be a large contributor to eating disorders in
women today.(Epstein 11)

At Bishop Eustace, the surveyed teenagers stated that _____ of them question
their own appearance; they wish they could change something about themselves.
For many of them, it is their weight. This is something that is implanted in
their minds over and over by the media, Hollywood and others they know
personally. _____ of Eustace students said that they were influenced by others
to lose weight.

The eating disorders themselves can be treated with counseling and possibly
hospitalization. The problem that surrounds this fact is that many eating
disorders are not