Eating IS my Illness

Unrealistic body standards affect health, and the various illnesses that fall under the category of 'eating disorder'.

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I wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg to ‘just fix it’, I’d be worried, take them to the hospital, and research on what treatments there are. So I decided to do the same with eating disorders. ”

As 95% of all people with eating disorders are age 12-25, teenagers are facing multiple eating disorders, as well as the stigmas surrounding them. There are many different types of eating disorders, though all of them can be dangerous, and cause various health issues. Recently, I had a friend who came out as having an eating disorder I’d never even heard of. I was shocked and after she explained it, my first thought was to ‘just stop’. The moment I thought this, I felt so guilty. I mean, eating disorders aren’t something those affected can control. I wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg to ‘just fix it’, I’d be worried, take them to the hospital, and research on what treatments there are. So I decided to do the same with eating disorders, both those that are well known and those that are less well known. I always knew that social media could be considered as a problem in this fight as many of the models and athletic coaches show completely unrealistic body standards. Sadly, my suspicion was only confirmed as many credible sites pointed toward social media as being causes, as well as individuals who were suffering from disorders. But I also learned how social media can help. It can help to connect those who are suffering, and help them to realize that they’re not the only ones suffering from these disorders, and can even give information about the treatments.

The two most common and well-known eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Most people understand the anorexia nervosa is when the person affected doesn’t eat, though many don’t know what bulimia does. Bulimia means that though the affected person eats, they will then force themselves to throw it all up, thus allowing them to eat as much as like, without gaining weight. Both conditions can easily cause long-term habits and health problems, as people suffering from anorexia nervosa and bulimia are actually often praised for the fact that they don’t gain weight. As well, with bulimia, other people seem the affected person eat, and will believe that they don’t have an eating disorder. As a matter of fact, bulimia is extremely popular among girls in college, as it’s common to see them out having all you can eat pizza only have approximately three out of four go to their dorms to throw it all back up. As well, with bulimia, the hydrochloric acid can cause scarring in their throats, leading to barely functioning muscles in their esophagus and making it difficult to swallow later in life. As well, this can cause an automatic gag reflex wherein after a while, when you bend over like you do when forcing yourself to throw up, you’re body will automatically do so, thus causing further damage to the esophagus and only helping to encourage the person to continue eating only to throw up their food later. Like anorexia nervosa, bulimia often lands people in the hospital as both make it so that your body has fewer nutrients and muscles will begin to stop functioning. This causes fainting, which will land the affected in the hospital on an IV for a while before they’re allowed to go out and do it all over again.

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia aren’t the only two widespread eating disorders.”

It’s not just anorexia nervosa and bulimia, there are many eating disorders that force the affected to gain weight, such as binge eating disorder or night eating syndrome. There’s also those that are quite like an impulse control disorder, such as orthorexia. Binge eating disorder is severe, and even life-threatening as it makes the affected eat massive quantities of food, even to the point where the affected is in pain, but unable to stop. Because of the stigmas around eating large quantities, binge eating disorder is very rarely reported, as affected people are often told to simply ‘stop eating’ by friends and family. Because of this, many affected with binge eating disorder will live with it in shame and only eating alone. Night eating syndrome is when there’s a delay in what is the ‘normal’ times to eat food. Affected people will begin eating in the afternoon and continue into the night, while most people eat from early morning to late afternoon. This will interrupt sleep, and can even cause depression. People affected with night eating syndrome report often being worried about weight gain and loss of sleep, but are unable to change their eating pattern. Orthorexia is an obsession with eating only the best quality, healthy ingredients and nothing else. This disorder can start with something as simple as ‘I want to eat better’, but will quickly escalate until the affected person is obsessed with what’s in their food. Orthorexia crowds out other interests and hobbies as well as impairing relationships and can even become physically dangerous. Orthorexia can actually lead to other more widely known disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Despite the fact that eating disorders are extremely dangerous, and there are over 30 million people affected with eating disorders, only $28 million is going toward its research. This disproportionate spread of money is extremely obvious when you look at the amount of money spent on other, less common diseases. Of course, this is not to say that these diseases aren’t important to research, but there’s an obvious disparity between the amount of money spent researching them and how many people are affected. Alzheimer’s is given $450 million, with only 5.1 million affected. Schizophrenia is given $276 million, with only 3.4 million affected. Autism is given $160 million, with only 3.6 million affected. Again, Eating disorders, which affect over 30 million people, is only given $28 million. Though all of these diseases are important and need to be researched, there are far more suffering from eating disorders, and the research about eating disorders and how to treat them is very limited.


Do you, or anyone you know, have an eating disorder? Or have had one in the past?

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Eating IS my Illness