Eating disorders. These have the highest mortality rate compared to any other mental illness. This week, February 26th through March 3rd, is National Eating Disorders Awareness week. Eating disorders have very little to do with food and dieting, and much more to do with deeper psychological issues like control and low self-esteem. They may exist in conjunction with other issues such as depression or anxiety.
- Anorexia, which involves self-starvation, excessive weight loss, and irregular eating patterns
- Bulimia, a cyclical disease of binging and purging. Purging may involve vomiting, laxative use, or over-exercising
- Binge eating disorder, in which the individual has impulsive or uncontrollable food binges but does not purge afterward (though there may be fasts or dieting sometimes)
- Other disordered eating patterns which may not fit the criteria above but still involve unhealthy relationships with food.
Eating disorders can arise from a combination of biological, behavioral, psychological, emotional, interpersonal, and social factors. Some of the factors in the psychological and interpersonal areas include low self-esteem, difficulty expressing emotions, a history of being teased or ridiculed based on weight/body size, and feelings of inadequacy. Social factors include views of the “perfect body” in media and glorified thinness.
In the February 2012 issue of Fitness magazine, they included the answers that women gave to this survey question: “What do you think when you look at yourself naked?”
The answers were as follows:
- 24% of women chose the answer “I’m not perfect, but I look pretty good.”
- 29% of women chose the answer “I wish I were more toned and less jiggly.”
- 28% of women chose the answer “I look fat.”
Stop the drive for thinness.
Stop body dissatisfaction.
Let’s nourish ourselves properly, stop beating ourselves up, and focus on what our body does for us, rather than hating how it looks. Be proud of yourself and your body, and treat it right!