Are you constantly concerned about your weight and body image?
An unfortunate side effect of our society's obsession with "beauty" and "thinness" has been an increase in eating disorders. The most common of these are:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Compulsive overeating
And it's not just girls and young women. I've treated women in their 50's, and men and young boys are a quickly rising segment of the population struggling with eating disorders.
With anorexia nervosa, dieting, vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, and over-exercise may be used to continually lose weight -- ultimately to the point of starvation and even death. Anorexia is the most life-threatening of the eating disorders.
Someone suffering from bulimia maintains a normal weight, but secretly consumes enormous quantities of food, and then vomits, fasts, or over-exercises to maintain that "normal" weight.
Therapeutic intervention and support are crucial, as well as support from medical personnel and nutritionists (a team approach is extremely valuable). Stanford University is a leader in working with this illness when it becomes life-threatening, and Summit Hospital (www.sedop.org) in Sacramento has an excellent inpatient and outpatient program.
There are a lot of serious physical consequences to these disorders. Over-use of laxatives can seriously damage the colon, vomiting can damage the esophagus and cause acid wear on teeth. The effect on organs can cause irreparable damage.
Compulsive over-eating involves out-of-control eating that can be triggered by any number of factors. One of my favorite authors on this subject is Geneen Roth (www.geneenroth.com). She has several books and often lectures in the Bay Area or Sacramento. Another good approach is found in Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, RD and Elyse Resch, RD.
By talking in therapy about the feelings associated with these compulsive behaviors, individuals can make positive changes to both their self-image and their eating habits. There is hope.
Other good resources are www.eatright.org and www.somethingfishy.org.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. (Chinese proverb)