Eating disorder topics
Evaluating eating and exercise habits
What's going on with me?
- Do you spend time wishing parts of your body looked different?
- Do you skip meals?
- Do you count the calories or fat grams in anything you eat?
- Do you exercise so much that you are fatigued or have frequent injuries?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, keep reading . . .
Living in our culture, it's not surprising if you feel you have to look a certain way to be happy or even healthy. You may think that dieting is a normal or even necessary part of life. However, constant concern about body weight and shape, fat grams and calories can start a vicious cycle of body dissatisfaction and obsession. The things you're doing to be thin can quickly spin out of control and become a serious, life-threatening eating disorder. Just because you weigh yourself, skip meals, count calories, or over-exercise doesn't necessarily mean that you have an eating disorder. But you may be dealing with what's called "disordered eating."
What is disordered eating?
Disordered eating is when a person's attitudes about food, weight, and body size lead to very rigid eating and exercise habits that jeopardize one's health, happiness and safety. Disordered eating may begin as a way to lose a few pounds or get in shape, but these behaviors can quickly get out of control, become obsessions, and may even turn into an eating disorder. Even if you don't have a full-blown eating disorder, you may be missing out on living while you spend all your time dieting!
Wonder if you're dealing with disordered eating? Think about this . . .
- Do you constantly calculate numbers of fat grams and calories?
- Do you weigh yourself often and find yourself obsessed with the number on the scale?
- Do you exercise to burn off calories and not for health and enjoyment?
- Do you ever feel out of control when you are eating?
- Do your eating patterns include extreme dieting, preferences for certain foods, withdrawn or ritualized behavior at mealtime or secretive bingeing?
- Has weight loss, dieting, and/or control of food become one of your major concerns?
- Do you feel ashamed, disgusted or guilty after eating?
- Do you constantly worry about the weight, shape or size of your body?
- Do you feel like your identity and value is based on how you look or how much you weigh?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you could be dealing with disordered eating. These attitudes and behaviors can take a toll on your mental, emotional and physical well being. It is important that you start to talk about your eating habits and concerns now, rather than waiting until your situation gets more serious than you can handle. Check out the links at the bottom of this page for helpful resources.
How to help a friend with an eating disorder
Tips for talking to a friend who may be struggling with an eating disorder:
- In a calm and caring way, talk to your friend about the specific things you have seen or felt that have made you worry.
- Share your memories of two or three specific times when you felt concerned, afraid, or uneasy because of their eating habits.
- Talk about your feelings as a result of these events.
Try to talk to your friend in a very supportive and non-confrontational way:
- Use "I" statements. "I'm concerned about you because you refuse to eat breakfast or lunch." "It makes me afraid to hear you vomiting."
- Avoid "You" statements. "You have to eat something." "You must be crazy. You're out of control!"
- Avoid giving simple solutions. "If you'd just stop, everything would be fine!"
Your friend may deny that there is a problem. You may need to approach them several times before she is willing to open up to you. If your friend won't listen to you and your concerns, you may need to tell someone else - someone who can help. Consider talking to your friend's parents, a doctor, a nutritionist, a counselor, or any other trusted adult.
How to help a friend; the IMAD approach
Inefficiency - Is your friend suffering from physical and psychological lapses in strength, energy, and concentration?
Misery - Is your friend clearly suffering? Is he or she angry depressed, anxious, obsessed, or sad?
Alienation - Is your friend's constant concern with and thoughts about eating, weight, exercise, and body image cutting them off from you, their family and friends, and even from themselves?
Disturbance - Is your friend doing things that are frightening, upsetting, or generally disturbing to them and to others?
What to say - step by step
- Set aside a time for a private, respectful meeting to discuss your concerns.
- Communicate your concerns.
- Ask your friend to meet with a doctor, counselor, or nutritionist to explore these concerns. Offer to accompany them on the first visit, if that may help.
- Avoid conflicts or a battle of wills.
- Avoid placing shame, blame, or guilt.
- Express your continued support for your friend.
20 WAYS TO LOVE YOUR BODY!!
Compiled by Margo Maine, Ph.D.
Don't Weigh Your Self-Esteem. It's What's Inside That Counts!
- Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams. Honor it. Respect it. Fuel it.
- Create a list of all the things your body lets you do. Read it and add to it often.
- Become aware of what your body can do each day. Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.
- Create a list of people you admire: people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world. Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments.
- Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.
- Don't let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.
- Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.
- Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
- Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance. Try one!
- Be your body's friend and supporter, not its enemy.
- Consider this: your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months. Your body is extraordinary - begin to respect and appreciate it.
- Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
- Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.
- Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don't exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good. Exercise for the Three F's: Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.
- Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body. Tell yourself you can feel like that again, even in this body at this age.
- Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself--without mentioning your appearance. Add to it!
- Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, "I'm beautiful inside and out."
- Choose to find the beauty in the world and in yourself.
- Start saying to yourself, "Life is too short to waste my time hating my body this way."
- Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.
Adapted from www.nationaleatingdisorders.org »