The truth about eating disorders

Visit www.nationaleatingdisorders.org to learn about National Eating Disorders Awareness Week events happening in your area.

While eating disorders are readily associated with anorexic girls supposedly wanting to be model-thin, the reality is far more complex than feminine vanity.

“There are many types of eating disorders,” says Dr. Greg Jantz, founder of A Place of Hope, an eating disorder treatment center, and the author of “Hope, Help, and Healing for Eating Disorders.”  “For example, there’s binge eating and food addiction. An eating disorder is a chronic faulty relationship with food that controls one’s life.”

Behavior includes binging and purging, starvation, laxative abuse and compulsive overeating; but Dr. Jantz warns that these are all symptoms, not the problem. A complex range of psychological and/or emotional conditions are behind eating disorders, including feelings of inadequacy, depression, anxiety and loneliness. Troubled relationships with family, friends or work colleagues may all play a part. According to Dr. Jantz, young girls and women age 13 to 30 are most at risk, with about 5 percent of eating disorders occurring in males.

Eating disorders can be triggered by a single traumatic event, such as death, divorce or rape — or a degrading comment. They can also take longer to develop, building as traumatic experiences mount up. Focusing on food gives relief to unaddressed emotional pain, until it spirals out of control.
“It becomes an addiction because it controls you despite many attempts to quit,” Dr. Jantz says.

And though sufferers can exhibit considerable shame about their condition, the stigma is being reduced. Public figures like Lady Gaga and Elton John have come forward about bulimia, and the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week — currently underway now — seeks to educate the public. 

“It makes it safer to get help, because you realize you’re not alone,” says Dr. Jantz. “Be bold and seek help.”

First-person: Life with anorexia

Some people live to eat. Others eat to live. With anorexia, I lived to starve. Though I lived with anorexia for many years, I never appreciated how complex eating disorders are or how ravaging their effects.

When you see someone, perhaps with skeletal frame, who you think has an eating disorder, you are seeing the outward effects of starvation. What is more damaging is the decay of a starved spirit, mind and personality.

It’s hard to grasp the emotional and mental bondage that traps people in these illnesses. Friends, family, even too few doctors have any idea what goes on in the mind of someone with an eating disorder. This is a fundamental barrier to early diagnosis and effective treatment.

There is no one-size-fits-all recovery method. A team approach, including help from field specialists, is needed to address the mental, physical and emotional aspects of these potentially deadly diseases.

—Judith Shaw is an artist and creator of “Body of Work: The Art of Eating Disorder Recovery,” a sculptural diary.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…