Reach out, help those with eating disorders |

Reach out, help those with eating disorders

Shirley Jo Wycoff
Submitted to The Union

Did you ever stop and think how people don't really complain about their height? It's more often expressed in a joke as they struggle to reach the item on the top shelf: "If I were only a foot taller…" It is a light subject because there is not much we can do about it. We are bound by our genetics to grow to be a certain height.

Now realize, people do not joke about their weight. As a matter of fact some, mostly females, are so infatuated with wanting to be thinner they make decisions that could cause serious health problems and even death.

It is amazing and very sad how many people desire to look different and I believe it is society (social media) which drives our individual perception into believing that a beautiful person is a thin person. It is hard to turn on the television, see the cover of a magazine, or log on to a computer without being reminded that thin is better.

Bulimia and anorexia are serious illnesses which affect many in our community so much that we cannot afford to turn a blind eye. If we know someone is struggling with an eating disorder then we can assume that person is suffering. It is important to be aware of the signs a person with an eating disorder exhibits.

It can be all too consuming to be bulimic. It can cause a person to make significant changes in his/her life. Individual's struggling with bulimia will probably avoid eating out or attending events where food is a main feature. It helps to sip water while waiting for the right moment to leave. "I don't feel well" or, "I need to go straight home," are frequent excuses a bulimic person might say. What is really happening is an obsession with the need to purge. Someone with an eating disorder, such as bulimia, is so preoccupied with food intake and output that it gets in the way of living a normal life: being trapped by food can and likely leads to a life of isolation and depression. There is so much shame and self-loathing attached to bulimia that it is often not shared with even the closest of friends so the behavior goes untreated and can last for many years.

Anorexia is an overwhelming desire to lose weight. Having this eating disorder can interfere with the true image a person sees in the mirror. It gets to the point where every thought is about diet and body image leaving no time to enjoy life and self-worth is gauged by body size. Yet no matter how thin the person gets, it will never be enough. Stress is high for an anorexic so adding poor health by starving the body is very dangerous and life threatening.

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Besides the medical concerns that threaten the body, such as stomach complications, confused metabolism, starvation, and premature tooth decay, the psychological issues are even more profound. Why does a person feel the need to get rid of food as soon as it is in the stomach? What is it about bingeing and purging that keeps someone in the grip of this addictive behavior cycle? And why would someone think that never eating is a good idea?

The two most looked at reasons for bulimia and anorexia are control and body image. Sometimes controlling what goes in and out of the body is the only control a person has over his/her life. Let's face it, body image is a huge problem in our society with the pressure to be thin and beautiful, or better yet the only way to be beautiful is to be thin. It has gotten out of control.

What do we expect as a community if all we care about is the way we look? We need to reach out and help those that feel uncomfortable with food and their bodies.

At Anew Day we care tremendously about the people in our community. We believe that having a safe place to come and work on life's challenges is a good start in the right direction. We want to help you feel better and learn to value yourself. Call us at 530-470-9111.

Shirley Jo Wycoff is an Anew Day Lay-Counselor.

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