The Dangers of Living with an Eating Disorder
Imagine waking up every morning, struggling to get out of bed. The room spins. Stumbling over to the mirror, you study and criticize every last inch of your body as the words “fat, ugly, worthless” echo in your head.
You then stagger to the bathroom, using the wall to hold you up. You don’t remember the last time you ate a “normal” meal. Stepping on the scale will determine your mood for the day. If it has decreased since yesterday, you have succeeded; if it has stayed the same, or worse, gone up, those voices inside your head become stronger, telling you how useless you are.
Throughout your day, you skip meals and avoid food at all costs, or binge on whatever food is in sight and secretly purge in bathrooms where nobody can hear you. Or like many women in this country, you flip-flop between both of these behaviors.
For approximately seven million American women, this is their reality. This is the life of a woman with an eating disorder.
“I needed to lose weight…fast,” said 18-year-old Liss of Boston. “So I started counting calories, and then counting meals, and then counting pounds, and then inches. I had lost 20 pounds in one month. Not too shabby I thought to myself. The weight loss became an obsession and it took over.”
Liss’s story is all too common. What begins as a diet to “lose a few pounds” becomes an obsession. Young women across the country become fixated with numbers on the scale, numbers of calories, fat, carbohydrates, inches, etc.
The two most dangerous eating disorders are bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Bulimia is characterized as a disorder in which a person binges on large amounts of food, well past the point of fullness, and then purges. Purging behavior includes self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, fasting, or obsessive exercise. Anorectics restrict their caloric intake to the point of starvation. Symptoms of these disorders are often both evident in those with eating disorders.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), approximately 7 million women and 1 million men battle eating disorders in this country. Between 0.5-3.7% of females will suffer from anorexia in their lifetime, while 1.1-4.2% will suffer from bulimia.
Of all those fighting anorexia it is reported that 10-25% will die as a result of their eating disorder. Eating disorders are the most fatal psychological illnesses. It truly is a deadly diet.
It is also reported that 86% of those with eating disorders will have symptoms before the age of 20. One of the most staggering statistics is that one of five college women suffer from bulimia nervosa.
Carolyn, a 21-year-old Queens University student suffering from years of disordered eating, said that the pressures of college trigger her negative behaviors.
“I’m so constantly stressed from my program…pre-med, how ironic…that the behavior is induced every time I turn around,”...