I recently had the privilege to speak at the Vancouver Pro Show regarding my on-again, off-again battle with Bulimia. There are so many women out there who suffer silently not willing to come forward but desperate for answers. I believe it is time we start the conversation. My next 3 blogs I will be breaking down my presentation, sharing my story and the tools I use to manage and control my Eating Disorder.
To look at me one would never assume the personal, private battle I have had with my eating disorder for 26 years. For most, Bulimia does not carry the outward characteristics that many associate with that of an eating disorder. However, the mental battle with food remains the same.
Today over 30 million people in North America deal with some sort of an eating disorder. The 3 recognized Eating Disorders are Anorexia Nervosa , Bulimia Nervosa and the newest one is Binge Eating Disorder. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, with a demographic that usually falls upon women. There is also an increase with those involved in sports and even higher for those in competitive athletics.
Personality traits of Perfectionism, OCD, All or Nothing, Constant Need for More, and Depression among other factors can contribute to eating disorders.
For years the most impacted age group was believed to be the 18-25 age group. However, recent studies have began to surface evidence of an alarming number of women in their 30's and even 50's still dealing with these food related issues.
The following are some of the contributing factors to eating disorders. Genetics, as within my own family circle my aunt suffered from bulimia, and a cousin from anorexia. Biochemistry, those with eating disorders tend to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Psychology, such as the personality traits I listed above (perfectionism, ocd, etc). Environment, I myself was teased as a child and had family pressure regarding my weight. Then lastly there is Social, with the pressure in western culture with continuous media images portraying women as thin. We cannot walk by a newsstand or watch a tv program without the glaring images of “perfect” bodies staring back at us.
Some forms of treatment for eating disorders are counselling, anti- anxiety and anti-depression medication along with Cognitive Behavior therapy. It is my personal experience and feedback from others that eating disorders can continue to be an ongoing issue. This requires each person to choose a path of management that works to live a healthy lifestyle.
So the question then lies, how do we manage this, not have reoccurring episodes and more importantly how do we take away the shame and start a conversation regarding these issues...
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