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Eating disorders — awareness sought

January 15, 2012
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Staff Writer , Salem News

The holidays are behind us, but there still lingers those leftover sweets, that sampler of chocolate candy.

People get on their scales and frown at the numbers that indicate their weight. Some stand in front of a full-length mirror and scowl at their reflections, even if they alone see how fat they are. Some can't resist reaching for just one more piece of chocolate candy from the sampler box. Some, overwhelmed by their own sense of guilt because they couldn't resist the urge to eat that cookie, rush to the bathroom and purge.

Eating disorders don't affect everyone, but for the ones who are affected, it is a life-threatening condition. Plans are under way for the 25th anniversary of National Eating Disorders Week (February 26 to March 3). This year's theme is "Everybody Knows Somebody."

The objective is to raise awareness about eating disorders. We are sharing this information now because of the unprecedented public response to an earlier Family Recovery Center article about eating disorders, as well as giving plenty of notice for participation in awareness week.

The problem exists in Columbiana County. Friends, family members and neighbors in our communities need support in coping with their eating disorders. You can make a difference for someone.

First you should know that eating disorders don't affect only young girls. Girls, boys, women and men suffer with eating disorders.

"While eating disorders may begin with preoccupation with food and weight, they are most often about much more than food," says the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

There is not an easy fix for eating disorders.

NEDA advises, "Eating disorders are complex conditions that arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, biological, emotional, psychological, interpersonal and social factors."

Some of the factors related to eating disorders include:

-?Low self-esteem.

-?You can't express your feelings or feel like your life is out of control.

-?Anger, anxiety, depression or loneliness.

-?Troubled personal relationships.

-?Difficulty putting emotions and/or feelings into words.

-?Victim of bullying about size or weight.

-?History of physical or sexual abuse.

-?Thinking you need to have the perfect body and don't.

-?Society's definition of beauty.

-?Judgments made based on appearance rather than inner qualities and strengths.

"All eating disorders require professional help."

These are life-threatening conditions and have an effect on emotional and physical well being.

Anorexia nervosa is a cycle of self-starvation that slows the body processes, raising the risk of heart failure; affects bone density, muscle loss/weakness, severe dehydration, which can lead to kidney failure, fainting, fatigue, even hair loss.

Bulimia nervosa's binge and purge cycles affect the digestive system. Electrolytes are out of balance because of the dehydration and loss of things the body needs like potassium, sodium and chloride.

Binge eating has serious consequences as well: high blood pressure and cholesterol, Type II diabetes and gall bladder disease.

Eating disorders have long been a difficult problem. Someone who has never experienced an eating disorder may not comprehend the full problem of suffering such a condition.

Yet everyone, at some time or another, has known or will know someone who has an eating disorder that disrupts their lives.

For more information about eating disorders, contact Family Recovery Center at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email, FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.



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