Eating Disorders Essay Research Paper Eating DisordersNicole

Eating Disorders Essay, Research Paper

Eating Disorders

Nicole awakes in her cold, dark room and already wishes it was time to go

back to bed. She dreads the thought of going through this day, which will be

like so many others in her recent past. She asks herself the question every

morning: ?Will I be able to make it through the day without being totally

obsessed by thoughts of food, or will I blow it again and spend the day

bingeing?? She tells herself that today she will begin a new life, today she

will start to live like a normal human being. However, she is not at all

convinced that the choice is hers.

Nicole is one of the thousands of women who suffer from an eating disorder.

These disorders can be compulsive over-eating, bingeing and purging, or

starvation. The most commonly recognized eating disorders in today?s society

are Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa. ?They are characterized as psychological

disorders, not just physical abnormalities.?(White 77) A short basic

definition of anorexia would describe it as: ?A rare disorder characterized by

marked weight loss, an intense fear of gaining weight, and disturbance in the

experience of body shape.?(Nadelson 21) However, actually suffering through

the disease is much more complicated.

Often, anorexia begins with a period of dieting. The anorexic then begins to

feel unable or unwilling to stop dieting despite dangerous weight loss. ?The

results of anorexia nervosa are often terrible to witness.?(Franklin 12) Some

of the signs are obvious to everyone; others can be concealed by the anorexic.

The physical consequences of anorexia can be anything from drying of skin to

altering physical structures of the brain. If untreated, anorexia nervosa can

lead to one final, tragic result: death.(Deitel C5)

Commonly referred to as, ?The other eating disorder,? bulimia nervosa is

much ?newer? than anorexia?-at least in terms of being recognized as a

distinct medical disorder. ?Bulimia causes individuals to exhibit recurrent

episodes of binge eating, engage in inappropriate behavior to avoid weight gain,

for example self-induced vomiting, and are overly concerned with their shape and

weight.?(Sun-Sentinel 1A) Unlike anorexics, bulimics can keep their weight at

or near the normal level for their height and age. Anorexics, because of their

distorted ideas concerning, ?ideal weight,? cannot. Bulimics lack the

discipline of anorexics. They can diet and exercise as anorexic people do, but

rather than totally sticking to their program, they periodically go to the

opposite extreme, compulsively devouring food.(Hax 93) Then the guilt of their

action leads them to purge, or vomit their food, and cleanse their system.

Although not as often fatal as anorexia, bulimia has many of the same unpleasant

effects on the body and can lead anywhere from physical weakness to heart

failure.(Sun-Sentinel 1A)

It is possible for a person to suffer from both anorexia and bulimia. It is

estimated that approximately half of all anorexics are also bulimic. Bulimia is

common in those who have been battling anorexia for extended periods of

time.(White 64) It is scary to think that anyone you know personally may have an

eating disorder. ______ of students surveyed at Bishop Eustace said that they

have participated in bingeing or purging. _____ percent have starved themselves

to change their weight and personal appearance. There can be many reasons for

these drastic, self-harming actions.(Epstein 40)

Explanation can be difficult, but in studying these diseases, researchers

often look closely at teenagers and preteens and at their family history. Eating

disorders can sometimes run in family health. In Bishop Eustace alone, ____

percent of students surveyed said that they had a relative with an eating

disorder. This percentage can help support the theory that family life should be

studied in cases of eating disorders.

?Lifestyle, upbringing, social environment, and other social factors often

are the largest contributors to why eating disorders are developed among today?s

women.?(Matthews 63) Many young women today blame peer pressure, comments from

coaches, boyfriends, and even parents about weight, and most often, the idea set

by media and the movies that, ?Thin is in.? Stress from various situations

common while growing up can also be a large contributor to eating disorders in

women today.(Epstein 11)

At Bishop Eustace, the surveyed teenagers stated that _____ of them question

their own appearance; they wish they could change something about themselves.

For many of them, it is their weight. This is something that is implanted in

their minds over and over by the media, Hollywood and others they know

personally. _____ of Eustace students said that they were influenced by others

to lose weight.

The eating disorders themselves can be treated with counseling and possibly

hospitalization. The problem that surrounds this fact is that many eating

disorders are not recognized until the disease is already severe.(Deitel C5)

Most girls who suffer from eating disorders are so secretive about their problem

that no one recognizes that they are sick until it is too late. _____ of Eustace

students surveyed said that they would not tell anyone if they had an eating

disorder. This is dangerous because if girls feel that they cannot get help then

they will get even sicker and could die. Communication is a critical issue in

these secretive diseases.(Franklin 12)

Mastering these disorders does not occur easily or quickly. The disease must

be recognized first before it can be treated. This can be the most difficult

part of the recovery process.(Hax 94) However, after the disease is affirmed,

doctors can correct the physical and mental problems that can result in death if

untreated. It is important to understand the causes, effects, and treatments of

eating disorders so they can be dealt with in society today.

Deitel, Bob. ?Teens and Eating Disorders.? Washington Post.

January 16, 1994. C5.

Epstein, Rachel. Eating Habits and Disorders. New York:

Chelsea House Publishers, 1990.

Franklin, Melanie. ?My Daughter was an Anorexic.? Good

Housekeeping. August 13, 1998, p 12.

Hax, Carolyn. ?Food Without Tears.? Newsweek. July 9, 1997. pp


Matthews, John R. Eating Disorders. New York: Facts on File,


Nadelson, Carol. Anorexia Nervosa. New York: Chelsea House,


?The Other Eating Disorder.? Sun-Sentinel. June 7, 1991. 1A.

White, William. Bulimiarexia. New York: Norton Company, 1983.


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