Does the end of the school year overwhelm anyone else or is it just me? I don’t know if it is a senioritis-type disorder or simply my basic disorganization problem, but I can’t keep my head above water. I am drowning in a pool of moving-up ceremonies, end of year parties, and make-up games. It is all fun and wonderful so I shouldn’t complain. Not that I won’t complain, I am just acknowledging that I shouldn’t. My plan was to finish eating disorders last week. But, in addition to dress rehearsals and graduations, I made plans to go see the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met. In a way, I was working on YesFive while I was there – research. His clothes are beautiful and tantalizing. I would have to hit the lottery to justify owning one of his pieces. Of course, I would have to lose all my body fat and grow 8 inches to look good in one. They seem to have all been designed with an Avatar character in mind, yet he was considered one of the best – a genius. The real genius in fashion would be the person who could make the average girl feel as beautiful as a supermodel without having to destroy her kidneys and her bone mass.
1. Bulimia shares several characteristics with anorexia. Both affect women much more than men, primarily adolescent and young women. Like patients with anorexia, people who suffer with bulimia often have a warped body image and fear gaining weight. Bulimia also frequently co-exists with other depression, anxiety and OCD tendencies.
2. Unlike anorexia, people with bulimia are usually of normal weight. This makes it easier to hide. Patients frequently binge eat large amounts of food which is followed by intense guilt. They will self-induce vomiting or abuse laxatives in an effort to reduce the caloric impact on their bodies.
3. Behavioral signs of bulimia include visible consumption of a large amounts of food, going to the bathroom right after meals and excessive exercise. Physical signs include abnormalities of the teeth and gums, sores in the mouth, sores and callouses on the backs of the knuckles, swollen cheeks from enlarged salivary glands and broken blood vessels in the eyes.
4. Binge eating or compulsive eating is a recently recognized disorder. People with this disorder, like patients with bulimia, eat excessive amounts of food in one sitting. They are usually shameful of this and will eat alone or hide their eating. They will consume food until they are in physical pain but unlike bulimia, do not purge. Compulsive eaters may maintain a strict diet in between episodes but because of the binge eating, will continue to gain weight.
5. Treatment for eating disorders is available and effective. It is complex because the causes of the disorder are so individual. It takes patience and commitment. For many patients, treatment is a life-long process.
I consider myself a foodie. I love to cook. I love to eat. Let’s face it, no matter how bad your day, chocolate will still be good. I am lucky that, except for the occasional weight gain, food and I get along great. On the wall at the gym it says, “Eat to live. Don’t live to eat.” This is easier said than done for some. Patients with eating disorders often have a dysfunctional relationship with food. Somehow, the stuff in the fridge takes on more power than the stuff in the heart and a struggle ensues. As evidenced by the pathetic antics of Anthony Weiner, misconstrued power is a dangerous and ugly thing. Compared to other diseases, the money spent on eating disorder research is pitiful. A quick-fix is not on the horizon. As a society, we need to be aware of the signs and the dangers. We need to find ways to teach our children moderation in eating and encourage healthy attitudes about their bodies. Any suggestions?