The question: “I love going to the beach, but I hate how I look in a bathing suit. Are there ways to feel better about this?”
You’re a woman, right? It’s not that men don’t feel self-conscious about their bodies. But, no thanks to the media, women tend to scrutinize every few extra pounds of flab and sag, comparing themselves to stars and supermodels who binge on carrots, employ private chefs to prepare light gourmet meals, and work out in home gyms with celebrity personal trainers.
Yes, exercise and nutrition are important, but so is confidence. Imagine if we spent as much time loving instead of hating every inch of our bodies. What a happier, healthier world it would be. A friend of mine, who is trying to lose weight for health reasons, has taken on a daily practice of standing in front of the mirror naked, regarding every ounce of fat with love and tenderness. “I want to love this,” she’ll say, embracing her stomach. No wonder men find her irresistible.
Could it be something bigger?
Eating disorders are the most deadly of all mental illnesses. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, up to 24 million Americans of all ages and genders suffer from anorexia or bulimia. Anorexics refuse to maintain weight above minimally normal for their age and height, have grossly distorted body images and are desperately fearful of becoming fat. Some limit caloric intake while others engage in binging and purging.
People who suffer from bulimia will alternate dietary restriction with binging, purging, using laxatives and hyper-exercising, but are usually normal weight or slightly heavy. Bulimics usually feel a lack of control over their eating and use recurrent inappropriate compensatory methods to control weight gain.
Many people are misinformed about eating disorders. Take this quiz to test your knowledge.
True or False:
1. Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.
2. A quarter of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.
3. More than a third of adults in the United States are obese.
4. Anorexics know they are too thin but feel they can’t do anything about it.
5. The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.
6. Anorexia is 15 times more common in women than men.
7. Anorexia is different from bulimia because anorexics never throw up or compulsively exercise.
8. Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receives treatment.
9. People who develop eating disorders are almost always overweight.
10. Some anorexics and bulimics use food as a way of coping with previous sexual abuse.
11. Women preoccupied with being thin who control their weight by excessively exercising (burning more calories than they consume), but eat regular quantities of food do not have anorexia or bulimia.
Answers: 1. T; 2. T; 3. T; 4. F; 5. T; 6. T; 7. F; 8. T; 9. F; 10. T; 11. F