Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Power of Food: Eating Disorders

July 31, 2010  
Filed under Coffee Table

By Kiran Gill —

Friends, family and boyfriends: be aware.

Ah, finally, a lazy day. The sands of Malibu are golden and the sun beams down on the ocean. It’s 100 degrees. I absorb the scenery while sipping a cold glass of Rosé at a friend’s beachfront pad. Sounds a little cliché, I know, but truthfully…being away from the hustle and bustle of the city is exactly what I need.

My friend, Maher, on the other hand, is enticed with people-watching. He grumbles under his breath, making comments about wafer-thin bodies, which he finds unattractive. I walk over to catch a glimpse of what’s profusely fascinating him. He isn’t people-watching. He’s female-watching.

I gaze at the beach. All I can see are three girls with thin, skeletal-like bodies. I wonder if they have some sort of health condition or are, perhaps, suffering from eating disorders.

Does appearance still remain the momentum of human perfection? 200 years ago, voluptuous women were considered attractive. A few generations later, that conception considerably changed. Heroin chic (popular in the ’90s, characterized by protruding jaw bones, pale skin, dark under-eye circles) became a roaring fashion trend. Society’s been driven by appearance since day one and the definition of beauty has determined individual social status.

I know we’ve heard it all before, but eating disorders are on the rise. A whopping seven million women in America have an eating disorder because of their obsession to remain thin. But friends like you, family members and boyfriends can help by educating themselves.

Most Common Types of Eating Disorders

1) Anorexia Nervosa

What it is: self starvation. Anorexia sufferers have a distorted body image and are terribly frightened at the potential of becoming fat. They struggle with low self esteem and depression and count calories. The troubling part is they don’t know they have a problem. The National Association of Anorexia reports that 5-10% die within 10 years, 18-20% die after 20 years and only 30-40% fully recover. Early detection (usually starts during adolescence) is critical since it can become a lifelong problem that leads to further health risks (bones, kidney, heart), and eventually death.

Signs to detect: Severely underweight and in denial; strictly limits their calories; develops odd food habits such as cutting all their food into tiny pieces; purplish skin color on arms and legs from poor blood flow. (See for a complete list.)

2) Bulimia Nervosa

What it is: recurrent binge eating followed by actions and behaviors that prevent weight gain. According to National Alliance of Mental Illness, it’s an invisible eating disorder because people are of normal weight. Girls tend to purge by induced vomiting, use laxatives or diuretics and engage in excessive exercise.

Signs to detect: Frequent weight changes; often talks about dieting, weight and body shape; looks sick; erosion of tooth enamel; thin or dull hair; teeth marks on the backs of the hands or calluses on the knuckles from self-induced vomiting. (See for a more complete list.)

Less Common Types of Eating Disorders

1) Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

What it is: A relatively new diagnosis, BED is similar to bulimia—uncontrolled impulsive eating. It leads to a binge varying from 2,000 – 3,000 kcals (a kcal is a kilocalorie; 1 kcal = 1000 cal = 1 Cal). It is not an extreme form of purging. It is most common among the middle-aged population and up to 25% are male. This disorder tends to take place in private. When they are in public, the food intake is normal or subnormal. Eventually it contributes to development of obesity. Again, the increase in occurrence is accredited to societal and environmental influences.

Signs to detect: uncontrollable eating in abnormally large amounts; eating as a coping mechanism to alleviate stress and depression; fluctuations in weight.

2) Night Eating Syndrome (NES)

What it is: night snacking. This is a binging disorder. It results in morning anorexia. It involves the intake of over half of the daily calories after the last meal in the evening (dinner). A person with NES tends to indulge in 400 kcals per episode and has multiple episodes throughout the night. NES is very common among obese individuals.

Signs to detect: gets up frequently in the middle of the night to eat; 50% or more of the day’s calories are consumed after dinner.

Misconceptions About Eating Disorders

According to the Academy of Eating Disorders, the problem also affects men. Of the estimated 8 million Americans who have an eating disorder, 1 million are men. An estimated 10 – 15% of men have anorexia or bulimia. For example, some men suffer from Muscle Dismorphia disorder, which causes them to obsess about having an immature body size. They also perceive their body to have decreased muscle mass. The age distribution is also changing with more cases among those in their 30s and even 40s.

Eating disorders are motivated by society’s interpretation of beauty and are common among dancers, models, actresses and athletes. Other factors that contribute include those having a personal history of obesity, family history of affective disorders (e.g. manic or depressive) or family history of substance abuse.

If you know anyone who seems to be suffering from an eating disorder, be the help. Eating disorders are most successfully treated when diagnosed early. Treatment is essential and it can’t be emphasized enough. Fortunately there are plenty of resources to assist in regaining a healthy lifestyle. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders and National Eating Disorder Association are great places to start (click link).

Truthfully, we all want to look attractive, have sex appeal and self appeal. As an advocate for healthy living and a soon-to-be Doctor of Chiropractic, I truly believe in pursuing it with a well-balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and maintaining a good fitness regimen. Also, individuals seeking optimal health can also contact their chiropractors who are also highly knowledgeable in nutrition and leading a healthy lifestyle.



6 Responses to “The Power of Food: Eating Disorders”
  1. Richard says:

    Thank you for this article.

    We need to see more health articles in lifestyle magazines because it is a major part of our lifestyle.

    Again, thank you and we look forward to reading more!

  2. Raj says:

    Great article.
    I love reading on health, hope to read more in lifestyle magazines.

  3. David Andersen says:

    Nice! This was a good read! Fun, yet informative.

  4. Ginger Fernando says:

    I like the style. It gave a good insight on what the disorders are! We definately need more articles like this! Thanks, from Cairo, Egypt!

  5. Lou says:

    Very interesting article.
    Well said and well thought out.
    I like it!


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