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Old 12-20-2004, 10:22 AM   #1
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Eating Disorders

I know that statistics on eating disorders, at least among women in the Western Hemisphere, are pretty scary--almost 10 percent, according to one study I read, of women either have or have had some form of eating disorder. But thinking about this topic lately, I have to wonder a bit about that statistic.

At some point, I think many women have somewhat adversarial relationships with their bodies and food. This is a new feeling for me, speaking personally here for a second--I don't know if it's all the stress I've been under or the brief illness I had or what have you, but recently I've been very suspicious of food and excessively worried about gaining weight. I'm spending a lot more time looking in the mirror and fretting over whether I'll have to replace every pair of pants I own. And I wonder if it's possible to develop an eating disorder by just sort of worrying one into existence.

But anyway, before this becomes a ZC thread, let me ask you all a few things:

1.) What do you all think about eating disorders? How and why do they come about?

2.) If stats on eating disorders factored in those who have thought about eating disorders or those who sort of flirt with having them, how much higher would the number go up?

Thoughts, please.
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Old 12-20-2004, 10:41 AM   #2
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I really don't know much about eating disorders, so I'll just come up with some thoughts. This society is way too "looks-conscious", associating a skinny body with good looks, which society claims you have to have to be happy. This is complete nonsense. I know some people who could stand to lose some weight, but they're not what I'd call unhappy people. Everyone has issues. If you're like me, you have a touch of autism and have trouble getting organized and other hassles. It's kind of a random, arbritary, almost hierarchal "issue" chart, with allegedly really awful ones like weight problems at the top right now and actually autism issues as well rating fairly high on the "pyramid" of issues these days. I'm not really comfortable with this as autism doesn't kill people the way AIDS and other diseases do. Sure it's not always fun to be autistic, but gosh, we have our lives and we don't have death sentences hanging over our heads the way people with AIDS do. We need a more global perspective on "issues" with millions of people in Africa who don't even have clean water much higher on the "isues" agenda and whether or not we look perfect or not on the bottom rung of importance, rather than at the top where it is now. The sequence and priorities on the "issues" list needs to be completely redone, it's fd up big time.
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Old 12-20-2004, 10:45 AM   #3
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I know someone who died over Thanksgiving from anorexia.

I think it's a very complicated illness and it's hard to pinpoint one cause. I've known a scary number of women with eating disorders and I would say that the common links with all of them were low-steem, perfectionism, family pressures or fucked-up family life, and just not enough love. Some research indicates a genetic component as well. And once the disorder is underway, actual changes in brain chemistry can prolong it.

When I would asked people about this person who died who I knew but not well (she's a family member of a colleague), I was always told one thing: "Well, her mother told her she was fat when she was 14" as though this in itself was the cause. And I'm like, geez, I was told that all the time and worse, though in my case it wasn't true, I've never been overweight. My response was always, "yeah, mom, thanks a lot, I inherited your fat ass" rather than to become sick.

That said, I've reached a point in my life age-wise where I do have to watch what I eat for the first time. I used to look at pasta like an old friend and now I look at it like it's the great enemy.
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Old 12-20-2004, 10:47 AM   #4
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I've been obsessed with gymnastics since I was 8 so I've done my share of research on EDs in defense of our sport (like recently turned in a 10 page paper on EDs in gymnastics). I think one of the most significant things to me is how often people confuse an eating disorder with disordered eating. An ED is a disease that really has nothing to do with weight or low self-confidence. Food is merely used as a means of control; it's incidental to the actual problems. I've seen blog rings and such where girls are "pro-anorexia" and such and I have to laugh b/c these kids have NO IDEA what it's like to actually have an eating disorder. It's also sad b/c it diminishes the seriousness of girls actually struggling with eating disorders.

1) Anorexia - usually in girls that are extremely driven and needs to have all their ducks in a row; just another way to be in complete control

Bulemia - usually in girls trying to gain control of their lives but who are more "manic" (emotions all over the place)

2) the number would skyrocket, BUT, "flirting" with the idea or dieting or not liking your body is part of growing up, it doesn't constitute a psychological disease in the way that a diagnosed eating disorder does. I've thought about it, but I know that b/c my personality and the way my mind works I could never develop a full blown ED no matter how hard I tried.
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Old 12-20-2004, 10:53 AM   #5
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What, exactly, qualifies as "disordered eating"? How would one have habits of disordered eating but not actually have an eating disorder? Where is the line drawn?

What kinds of cultural messages do y'all think, besides the obvious (clothing ads, diet plans, etc.) contribute to eating disorders or disordered eating?
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Old 12-20-2004, 11:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
An ED is a disease that really has nothing to do with weight or low self-confidence. Food is merely used as a means of control; it's incidental to the actual problems.
That makes sense. Is it accurate to say eating disorders are part of the obsessive-compulsive disorder family?
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Old 12-20-2004, 11:18 AM   #7
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i would guess that eating disorders are related to obsessive-compulsive disorders... it's definitely an illness. i'd say it becomes a disorder when a person is eating for reasons that aren't related to hunger/nourishment. i know that's a broad scope, but i think it's reflective of reality. we all binge on our comfort foods of choice, but there's a difference between enjoying a treat every now and then and overdosing on junk food daily.

it seems to me that there are two families of eating disorders. one is anorexia, bulemia, etc. where the person refuses to ingest/digest food, thinking they're fat/worthless. the other is at the opposite end of the spectrum, when people use food to self-medicate their depression. both are deeply rooted in control issues.
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Old 12-20-2004, 11:38 AM   #8
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Thanks LivLuv for the info. I told you I didn't know anything about these disorders. For whatever reason I haven't known anyone with an eating disorder in my adult life. I've known many bipolars and of course people all over the DDS, (developmental disorders spectrum, autism, HDD, etc, etc, since I'm one of those myself).
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Old 12-20-2004, 11:51 AM   #9
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First question-no doubt eating disorders are absolutely horrible things. I've seen pictures of Karen Carpenter when she was in the throws of anorexia, and she did not look pretty, she looked downright creepy. I think it's very sad that so many people get that insecure that they get into that kind of thing.

As for what causes them, though...bit of a potential rant here...you know, people talk all the time about beauty magazines and TV and blame them for all these problems, and I personally don't agree with that. Those people on TV and in the magazines never forced these women to lose weight. The women who want to look like the women on TV or in magazines or whatver made the initial decision on their own to lose weight. Now, with those who got the eating disorders, the further on they got into their dieting routine, eventually, they lost complete control of their dieting, and they obviously didn't choose to get to the point where they were sick or dying or whatever, it just happened.

But the initial decision to be skinnier was their choice, none of these women on TV or in the magazines made them do it, because for all the women out there who see these girls and decide to lose weight, there's also so many women out there who see these women on TV or in magazines and DON'T go off and start dieting as a result, so they obviously can't be as influential as people say they are, otherwise, EVERY woman would have an eating disorder. And besides that, you can become insecure about your looks just by seeing a skinny girl in your school, or your hometown, or at the beach, wandering around, too, so if it's not a magazine or a TV show that will make you insecure, it's something else, and it's up to YOU to decide how to deal with it, and hopefully you'll make the decision to not get into a dangerous diet.

And people forget that guys can get eating disorders, too, and yet I never hear anybody blaming the media for that. I never hear for any change in the look guys have in magazines or TV, the whole buff, six pack, big muscles, chiseled physique/face, etc., etc. Why is it just that way with women?

Meh. Anywho, rant over, that's just kinda how I personally feel.

As far as the second question goes, I honestly don't know how much of a change there'd be, but I'd assume it'd be a rather noticeable one.

Angela
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Old 12-20-2004, 11:52 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by paxetaurora
What, exactly, qualifies as "disordered eating"? How would one have habits of disordered eating but not actually have an eating disorder? Where is the line drawn?

What kinds of cultural messages do y'all think, besides the obvious (clothing ads, diet plans, etc.) contribute to eating disorders or disordered eating?
"Disordered eating" is girls not eating/purging b/c they want to lose weight/think they're too fat/like to be skinny/want to look lik X model or acctress. Like, maybe I think I'm fat and want to lose 10 lbs so for a month I eat 100 calories a day. An eating disorder is about control; it's not about losing weight, it's about using weight to maintain a sense of stability and control in one's life.

I honestly don't think cultural messages like clothes for the skinny, skinny models, actresses, etc, really have a significant effect on true eating disorders. The cultural indicators I think are more harmful are things that would give a girl reason to think her life was out of control - divorces, kids just growing up too fast (sex, drugs, pregnancy, etc), and also school work seems so much more competitive these days. Our culture in general puts too much pressure on people to be completely independent financially, emotionally, intellectually, etc.
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Old 12-20-2004, 11:57 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel

And people forget that guys can get eating disorders, too, and yet I never hear anybody blaming the media for that. I never hear for any change in the look guys have in magazines or TV, the whole buff, six pack, big muscles, chiseled physique/face, etc., etc. Why is it just that way with women?
This is a good point, Angela. I recently did a survey of high level gymnasts (male and female) as well as their parents and coaches. The most severe ED reported was of a guy who has been struggling with bulemia for years (2.5 and counting), received 6 months of counselling, and was once hospitalized. Definitely not in a majority, but still worth noting.
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Old 12-20-2004, 12:09 PM   #12
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One of my friends is anorexic. It was really bad last year when she would take her calculator to lunch to figure out the amount of calories she had taken in, would eat yogurt, throw away the rest of her lunch, and then chug a bottle of water so what little she had eaten would go right through her. Toward the end of the schoolyear she started eating healthier, then at some point over the summer she took up drinking tons of beer. Because beer makes you gain weight, she has cut down the amount of food she eats again. She sees a psychiatrist but it obviously doesn't work.
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Old 12-20-2004, 12:11 PM   #13
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the singer for silverchair had a severe case of anorexia, i believe...
we didn't hear much about it here, but it's the only mention of a man having an eating disorder that i can remember.
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Old 12-20-2004, 12:19 PM   #14
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Yeah, that's right, he did have anorexia, and I remember once a long time ago watching one of those afternoon talk shows and some guy was on there talking about his eating disorder.

Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
This is a good point, Angela. I recently did a survey of high level gymnasts (male and female) as well as their parents and coaches. The most severe ED reported was of a guy who has been struggling with bulemia for years (2.5 and counting), received 6 months of counselling, and was once hospitalized. Definitely not in a majority, but still worth noting.
Thanks. And wow, that's sad about that guy. I remember when I was in school hearing about some guys who were in wrestling and all that talk about how they had to keep an eye on what they ate, how they had to lose x amount of pounds before an event, and they weren't into the eating disorder area yet, but they still were tired and looked rundown and everything. I felt so bad for them.

It just seems that people forget that anyone, man or women, can have insecurities about themselves. We all have things that we wish we could improve on. And I agree with your other post, too-I definitely agree that those things you mentioned, the pressures and whatnot, have to do with this whole thing, too (I've heard stories before about people who were perfect students, involved in tons of school activities, etc., etc., and they had an eating disorder, too-they were perfectionists in every sense of the word).

And it's ironic that people think they're in control when it comes to an eating disorder, because eventually, it seems the food's in control of them, that's why they get all frantic when they see they've gained weight and everything, they fear they're losing control again.

Angela
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Old 12-20-2004, 12:55 PM   #15
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There is a whole bunch of insecurity out there, and I think many people are afraid to talk about their insecurities because they've been told, unfortunately, that insecurity is a sign of weakness and they shouldn't "give in" to it. This is screwy. It's not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of being human. I'd be lying big time if I claimed I didn't have any insecurities. Trust me, I do!
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