• August 21, 2014

Watch for signs of eating disorders

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Posted: Monday, December 24, 2012 4:30 am

Standing in front of the full-length mirror was a 90-pound teenage girl who thought she had nothing to offer the world.

High school can be challenging enough, and growing up the daughter of immigrants certainly didn’t ease the insecurity brought on by judging teenage eyes.

I couldn’t control that I didn’t have the same trendy clothes or fancy gadgets as my peers, nor could I control the embarrassment and low self-esteem associated with it.

But, there was one thing I could control. It was the only thing that, in my mind, would make me desirable by anyone at all — my weight.

It wasn’t hard to devise excuses for why I wasn’t eating. “Oh, I had a big breakfast,” I said, as my skin-and-bones frame sat alone at the table while my friends stood in the lunch line. “I’ll get something later.”

More than 10 million women and 1 million men suffer from eating disorders in the U.S. alone, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. “Because of the secretiveness and shame associated with eating disorders, many cases are probably not reported.”

Obsessing over the food that entered my body became a way of life as my days were spent masterfully devising low-calorie plans to quell my hunger.

The disease is a lifestyle for people who suffer from anorexia or bulimia and it quickly becomes a detriment to overall health.

Blacking out in the shower, fainting on hot summer days and feeling exhausted became routine as I tried to create an ideal image for myself.

Due to the impressionable nature of children and the portrayal of body image in the media, it is important for parents to recognize the warning signs that their children might suffer from an eating disorder.

The obvious indications include a drastic change in eating habits or exercise behaviors and obsession with dieting. But the psychological nature of eating disorders requires parents to be cognizant of a child’s perception of body image and possible self-injury.

Anorexia and bulimia are serious disorders, which can cause permanent damage, or even death if untreated. It’s important to recognize you or a loved one has a problem and seek help from family, friends or organizations like the National Eating Disorder Association at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

There still are some days when I notice the number on the scale slowly inching higher; times where I don’t want to give in to the temptation of junk food or end up lying to friends about why I’m not eating.

But it never takes long for me to come to my senses. Now, when I look in the mirror, I see potential for so much more.

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