The Silence of Eating Disorders

The Silence of Eating Disorders | Houston Moms Blog

When I heard I had the opportunity to write about eating disorders I thought YES, hell yes! I know all about you; I see you. This one is personal for me. It is unspoken and silent; it stealthily sneaks into your home and becomes a second skin, which is very hard to shake. You might kick it to the curb, but it lurks in the mind’s eye and never really goes away, even if you are not participative in the process anymore.

Eating Disorders Do Not Discriminate

You ask, how do eating disorders start, and when do they creep into our homes? They can start as early as your youngest coming home at the age of 6, crying because she had been called fat at school that day. No, she won’t become bulimic overnight, nor will she go on a diet immediately. But, she might suddenly define herself as fat. One morning, you have a strong, healthy and strikingly beautiful child, who had never defined her body, and the next you have a kid that is very body aware and body shameful.

It starts there. In the mind. With one word. Will she become one of the many people suffering from eating disorders, I don’t know, but the odds are greater than they were yesterday. Body shaming, the media, commercials:: they all direct the face of beauty as being thin. This is changing slowly as our front covers are showing more real figures, but much of the damage is done. Eating disorders do not discriminate; they cross all genders, all races, and all ages.

My Interlude With The Dreaded Scale

I grew up in a home with a beautiful and confident mother. I loved watching her get dressed for a fancy night out with my dad. Her favorite outfit {or was it mine?} was a black silk dress covered in pink and purple roses. I can still smell her perfume and remember how stunning she looked. Never did she speak of weight, or fat, or size. We just lived. One day, a local weigh-less center opened up, and my mom and I popped in to show support, as you do in a small farming community. I was an impressionable 12 year old, so when a slapstick comment was made to me- You’re pretty now, but you’d better watch your weight, it made an impact that changed my life. 

A critical voice took shape and all I could see in the mirror was this big girl that was so dreadfully ugly. What do you do with that, you wonder. Well, I fed her. I fed her insults and self hate and food, a lot of food. I gorged it, I hid it, I stole it, I bought it. I consumed it mentally and physically. The scale became an addiction and a numbers game. I never won. I purged and vomited daily, and the weight just piled on. Never believe that bulimia makes you thin; you can still be overweight and be sick. In my own favor, it was a good thing that I was terrible at follow through back in the day. I was just far too exhausted, or too lazy to vomit after each meal. It’s hard work. So, I just remained fat.

After I graduated from high school, I found laxatives. Oh, baby. It was a slow addiction that took over my life, until it became impossible to buy them without a prescription, and red flagged the regular users. Clearly, it was not just me with a problem. I steadily healed my broken body, with a healthy diet and exercise and learned to love the person in the mirror. She is still pretty broken on the inside, eating disorders do that to you, but I can proudly say I am a success story and healthy.

It’s Silent

Eating disorders are silent; they hurt our families, they hurt our bodies, they are shameful, and no one talks about them. Parents:: talk to your children about their bodies, and let them understand the risks involved. Keep a close eye as it happens behind closed doors and if not detected or dealt with can have catastrophic results. The most common symptoms to watch out for in our children include refusal to eat, body image concerns, social withdrawal, hiding or hoarding of food, excessive weight loss or weight gain, lack of growth, thinning hair on the head, menstrual cycle abnormalities in girls, personality changes {which are usually irritability or depression} and regular visits to the bathroom after meals.

Statistics 

I was reading the latest statistics – did you know 13 percent of woman over 50 have symptoms of an eating disorder and the rate of children under age 12 admitted to hospital for eating disorders rose 119 percent in less than a decade? Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents, after asthma and obesity. It is madness and cause for grave concern.

Over 70 percent of those who suffer will not seek treatment due to the stigma attached to the disease.

The most common types of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, binge eating disorder and Bulimia Nervosa, and yes, they can be treated. We need to educate ourselves as parents and we need to educate our children.

If you, your children or a friend need help, Houston has a proper treatment center. Schedule a free treatment and get help.

Eating Recovery Center of Houston

7515 Main Street, Number 400, Houston, Texas.77030.
281-299-3120

Final Thoughts

Be kind. Always. Watch your words. The word fat is ugly, and it defines people. It hurts. Use a kind tone with regards to food, and don’t criticize. Food is not the enemy-your attitude towards food is.

Treat others as you wish to be treated, and maybe our kids will be kinder to their bodies and will grow into body proud adults.

Do you suffer from an eating disorder? Is this something you worry about with your children? What discussions do you have? Share with us!


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