Eating Disorders

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Hello ladies and gentlemen, for those who don’t already know me I’m your local Health Advisor Dr. Craft. I apologise for interrupting your crucial studies but I can assure you that it is necessary. I’m here today to talk to you about various eating disorders due to new statistics proving that you, sat in front of me now, are extremely prone to forming an eating disorder at your current age. So what is an eating disorder? Well, an eating disorder is like when you’ve got a serious problem with food.

I don’t mean your everyday problems like calorie intake or whether you’ve eaten something a bit dodgy – what I mean is when you sort of have a dysfunctional relationship with food, when it starts getting out of control. To sum it up a sort of out of control eating problem whether your eating too much or not enough. If this were to develop further I doubt you’d actually grasp the reality of the situation. I mean at first you don’t absorb the effects of the eating problem you would probably be in full-on denial.

The two eating problems we, as a collective group, will be focusing on in the next half hour are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Coincidently they are also the most common affecting you young ladies more than you young men. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, what are they? Well, firstly, they are both curable, although in some cases the patients are beyond help. So they are curable to an extent, the extent depending on how long you have kept the eating problem a secret. Anorexia Nervosa is when you start to refrain yourself from the luxury of food in order to lose weight, to go on to achieve your original desired look.

You simply don’t eat sufficient amounts of food, causing your body to stop working properly. Also, due to the extreme amount of weight you lose you become unhealthy and weak. Even when you are losing weight you begin to exercise vigorously after every meal to rid yourself of the fat and calories. Also, after a while, due to maintaining such a poor diet, your energy levels get dangerously low which drives you towards taking high caffeine beverages such as coke, tea or coffee just to try and create a false sense of energy.

Giving your mind a boost but it is short-lived. Side effects of Anorexia Nervosa you’d suffer are extremely obsessive thoughts and a low self-esteem, which completely knocks your confidence leaving you unable to perform normal everyday tasks such as shopping or going out on the town with your mates. To determine whether you have Anorexia Nervosa there is a clinical procedure using the system DSM-IV. What is DSM-IV? DSM-IV is simply a system that enables scientists to measure and determine our mental disorder.

For you, to clinically have Anorexia Nervosa, you must have these four symptoms: You must have a body weight less than 85% of that expected, suffering an intense fear of becoming fat yet being underweight, exaggerating or minimising your body image and in you young women the absence of 3 or more menstrual cycles. Over 90 percent of patients suffering from Anorexia Nervosa are female which is a disturbing statistic, so you young ladies are especially at risk. But gentlemen, please be aware that every case is different, and you could become part of that 10 percent.

Anorexia Nervosa is estimated to affect between one and five teenage women in every 100,000 here in the UK alone. Although Anorexia Nervosa is the main eating disorder focused on by the media there is another eating disorder much more common amongst you teenagers, the shadowed eating disorder being Bulimia Nervosa. Bulimia Nervosa is when you begin to binge-eat followed by self-induced vomiting or when you begin to misuse laxatives. When you suffer from Bulimia Nervosa you are extremely prone to eating even when you aren’t hungry.

Following this is the guilt and fear of putting on weight which leads to self-induced vomiting causing devastating harm to the inside of your body – devastating, life threatening harm. It is similar to when you comfort eat, when you are feeling down in the dumps, but Bulimia Nervosa is one hundred times more uncontrollable. Sufferers are also very private about their eating disorder; therefore you feel isolated and ashamed but still persist in binging as it helps to reach a false sense of happiness. Once again DSM-IV uncovered four main symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa:

You would have numerous periods of binge eating, when you frequently misuse laxatives or when you frequently become obsessed with self-induced vomiting prolonged at a rate of twice or more a week over a three-month period and finally your self-evaluation, the way you judge your body, solely focusing on weight and body shape. The devastating effects of Bulimia Nervosa in both you young men and you young ladies are as follows; depression, tooth decay, heartburn, constipation, swollen face, irregular menstrual periods, dehydration, a sore throat, upset stomach, flaky skin and weight fluctuations leading to death.

You don’t want this at all, wouldn’t you rather enjoy life than be in considerable pain? Unfortunately, Bulimia Nervosa is extremely hard to detect by onlookers such as parents or teachers, as the damage is mainly on the inside of your body unlike Anorexia Nervosa, which is more obvious to detect as the damage is shown on the outside of your body. Bulimia Nervosa is serious; it can cause permanent damage to your teeth, stomach and heart leading to fainting, heart failure and death! Why do adolescents your age develop eating disorders?

Unfortunately, nobody knows specifically why you develop an eating disorder; it remains a mystery for now. For every patient there is a different explanation and reason for the development of an eating disorder. On the other hand we are able to recognise the most common causes amongst your age, which are the feeling of being overwhelmed and fears of not being able to cope with exams, work and/or relationships. For instance, you and your body going through major changes as we speak – both physically and emotionally – and you may be confused or uncertain of what you would like to look like.

Denying yourself the right to have food will not establish any control in your lives what so ever; it will make them worse. Also, if you are participating in any competitive sports that emphasize thinness or artistic activities such as ballet, running, swimming or gymnastics don’t feel like you have to be thin to be good, you don’t, its simply the wrong impression being given off. Often life events can trigger Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. These could include the failure of a relationship, the death of a family member, the birth of a child, being sacked from work or simply a stressful revision regime.

You need to face up to these events; hiding behind an eating disorder is not the answer. It is usually found that someone else has had a part in triggering an eating disorder by ‘flinging nasty weight insults’ at others. If this someone is you I advise you to stop. What you are doing is bullying and you don’t realise the effects you can have on your peers. Also, this can antagonise the tendency of leaning towards perfection. Today’s ‘thin is beautiful’ image may be a contributing factor.

Maybe you gentlemen would like to be as thin and handsome as your hero footballer? Maybe you ladies would like to be a size zero like your heroine models? The celebrities promoted in the media can put pressure on you young women and men, as they are all thin and ‘perfect’. I can assure you that thin is not always beautiful. When was the last time you saw an overweight celebrity on a magazine not talking about how much weight they have lost? Never! If you’re worried about developing an eating disorder listen carefully.

Be yourself, don’t try to look like your role models or heroes on television and in magazines. You are all beautiful in different ways. Do not think negative thoughts about your current weight, it is probably fine for young growing adults of your age. Identify and respect everything about yourself – the inside and the outside. Try to make eating a positive experience: eating healthily fuels your body and your mind. Although you hear all sorts of successful diets try not to diet just eat more healthily. The benefits of eating healthily are on a never-ending list.

And finally, remember that thin is not necessarily beautiful, what you should focus on is the person inside. If you think you may have an eating disorder this is what you should do. It is important that you speak to me after everyone has returned to their studies, I’m here for the majority of the day and can be found either in the staff room or Room 49. If you are too nervous or scared to inform me of your worries talk to an adult you trust such as your parent or guardian, teacher, a relative or even a close friend.

They can help you come to terms with your responsibility to get your worries cleared. Your life may depend on whether you choose or don’t choose to tell someone about your worries. Is it possible to recover from an eating disorder? Yes, it is possible although an eating disorder is difficult for anyone to overcome. Beating an eating disorder such as Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa can be an uphill struggle but with commitment, patience and support from family and friends it can be achieved!

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