For those who have not struggled with eating and body image issues it can be hard to understand why someone would starve themselves or eat to the point of needing to throw-up, but for those who have it is a terrifying experience. And while only a small percentage of Americans are officially diagnosed with anorexia or bulimia, the numbers for those struggling with food, diet and body images issues is growing every day.
Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorders are the more serious diagnosis for eating disorders but, there are many who battle daily with food and body image who are never officially diagnosed with an eating disorder—they are called disordered eaters. In fact, one study by SELF Magazine and the University of North Carolina found that “more than 6 in 10 women are disordered eaters. Another 1 in 10 have [diagnosable] eating disorders.” Disordered eating essentially means that one does not have a healthy relationship with food or one’s body and this study found that to be true for 60% of American women!
Men are not exempt from eating and body image issues. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, one in 10 patients seeking treatment for an eating disorder is a man. And this number is likely higher but, due to stigma and fear, many men and boys do not seek treatment either out of shame or because their struggles do not reach crisis stage.
But recovery is possible. Early intervention is key, as is honesty, courage and a willingness to explore all of the contributing factors—and there can be many. Genetics, temperament, cultural influences, family history and family dynamics can all be factors. Additionally, trauma, grief, transition, loss of control, depression and anxiety are common influences in the development of an eating disorder.
In my work with disordered eating we will explore all of these possibilities in an attempt to uncover why these behaviors seem to make sense to you or your loved one. No one wakes up one morning and decides, “I think I’ll have an eating disorder.” Circumstances, personal history and genetics all play a part in making these behaviors seem like something one should or must do.
We will work on exploring these issues, healing them when possible and developing the skills necessary to make changes that will bring freedom with food, body image and exercise.