Monday, November 9, 2009

Disordered Eating: The Disorder Next Door

In a previous post, I mentioned a website called Finding Balance that specifically addresses disordered eating. Finding Balance is an awesome faith-based nonprofit whose goal is to provide resources, support, information and encouragement for those struggling with disordered eating. The creator, Constance Rhodes, was inspired by the statistics of a study published in SELF magazine in 2008. The article in SELF, which discussed these statistics, was entitled Disordered Eating: The Disorder Next Door.

The article begins by stating that 6 in 10 women are disordered eaters, and 1 in 10 have eating disorders. This means that 70 percent of women struggle with food issues!! And I actually think that this number is even higher. Here is an excerpt from the article:

Eating habits that women think are normal—such as banishing carbs, skipping meals and, in some cases, even dieting itself—may actually be symptoms of the syndrome. Although disordered eating doesn't have the lethal potential of anorexia or bulimia, it can wreck your emotional and physical health, says Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D., director of the eating disorders program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and SELF's partner in the survey. And it's everywhere, afflicting women like your sister, your friend, your coworker—or you.

The online SELF survey garnered responses from 4,000 women ages 25 to 45 to a detailed questionnaire about their eating habits and found that most disordered eaters fall into one or more of six categories. Calorie prisoners are terrified of gaining weight, tend to see food as good or bad and feel extremely guilty if they indulge in something that's off-limits. Secret eaters binge on junk food at home, in the car—wherever they won't be found out. Career dieters may not know what to eat without a plan to follow; despite their efforts, they're more likely than other types to be overweight or obese. Purgers are obsessed with ridding their body of unwanted calories. Food addicts eat to soothe stress, deal with anger, even celebrate a happy event; they think about food nearly all the time. Extreme exercisers work out despite illness, injury or exhaustion and solely for weight loss; they are devastated if they miss a session. Bulik explains that many disordered eaters piece together a painful mix of destructive habits. Others may shift between categories over the years, ricocheting from restricting to bingeing to purging, for instance.

The article goes on to provide examples and illustrations of these different types of disordered eaters. One of my favorite quotes in this article from Cynthia Bulik, (who has been on Rachel Ray, the Today Show, etc and who is a local hero of mine, who I love), stands out--"Imagine what women could accomplish if they spent that time and energy on things other than body issues." This is SO true! I am not going to pretend that it is easy to change your thoughts and simply make this happen. This often requires some form of therapeutic intervention, or distraction skills and tools, or other coping methods. But think about what we could do to change the world with all of the energy, effort, emotion and thoughts that go into our struggles with food! Just think of the possibilities:)

To read this article in SELF magazine's May 2008 issue, click HERE. And for more info on Finding Balance, follow this link to explore the website and click here to see my previous post on it.

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