One of these people might have an eating disorder. Who's your pick?
Maggie Baumann, MA: The truth is, any one of them could have an eating disorder, because eating disorders show no discrimination. They affect males and females; children, teens and adults; people of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and economic levels.
The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) has named this week National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. This year's theme is "It's Time to Talk About It!"
According to NEDA, close to 10 million females and 1 million males in the U.S. struggle with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Even more suffer from binge eating disorder. Although many may think people choose to have eating disorders, experts agree that eating disorders are not lifestyle choices.Whitney Thompson (pictured above), winner of season 10 of "America's Next Top Model" -- and the show's first "full-figured" model winner -- is an official ambassador for NEDA, aligning with other supporters to fight the war against eating disorders and unrealistic "body-perfect" ideals. This is an issue close to her heart. "People always say you have to be stick-skinny, emaciated and unhealthy, and I've kind of stood up for [being full-figured] my whole life," she says. "I've already heard online from boys and girls all over the world who are dealing with eating disorders. They're thanking me for standing up and saying, 'I am a plus-size model and I am beautiful.' This is what people should look like, rather than skin-and-bones -- which is disgusting and sends a bad message to people everywhere."
Think you or someone you love has an eating disorder? Here are some possible signs:
â€¢Dieting obsessively when not overweight
â€¢Claiming to feel fat when not overweight
â€¢Preoccupation with food, calories, nutrition and/or cooking
â€¢Denial of hunger
â€¢Loss of menstrual period
â€¢Rapid weight loss
â€¢Constant thoughts about weight
â€¢Eating to relieve stress or depression
â€¢Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
â€¢Lying to others about how much you eat
â€¢Dizzy spells, fainting, blackouts or feeling cold
â€¢Feeling guilty after eating
â€¢Avoiding eating with family and friends
â€¢Swollen puffy cheeks
There is hope, however. According to the Academy for Eating Disorders, it is estimated that nearly 50 percent of patients with anorexia recover. If you think you are in trouble, reach out. You can call NEDA's information-and-referral helpline at 800-931-2237.
Recovery is possible; you can regain your health and life. Seeking treatment from qualified eating-disorder professionals is your first step.
|Maggie Baumann, M.A., is a marriage family therapist intern working as a counselor in a private practice in Newport Beach, as well as at The Victorian in Newport Beach -- a residential treatment facility providing care to women struggling with eating disorders, addictions and body image. Maggie has written for various publications and appeared on national television promoting eating- disorder awareness and prevention. She also facilitates an eating- disorder support group in Newport Beach. You can reach Maggie by e-mail, or visit her website at MaggieBaumann.com.|