Diet has become a nasty four-letter word while the diet industry has ballooned, taking in over $40 billion a year. “Thin is in”, and our youth are paying a high price to get there.
Up to 24 million Americans suffer from eating disorders. 50% of 9-year-old girls and 80% of 10-year-old girls have already been on a “diet.” 90% of young women in Universities use dieting to control their weight and 22% reported they dieted “often” or “always”. 25% of college-aged women use bingeing and purging as a weight management technique. And eating disorders are not only for women. 10% to 15% of people with anorexia and bulimia are male. And men tend not to seek treatment because they perceive eating disorders as a female disease. These numbers are only going to get higher if we don’t begin to tackle the problem early on. I work with patients with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. All of these patients suffer from the same base problem – a sense of helplessness and need to control their lives via food and body weight. They take this to the extreme, though, and food, food consumption, and exercise become all consuming processes.
Professional treatment is vital for any person diagnosed with an eating disorder. I recommend all my clients work with a psychologist while they work with me to learn about how to view food as a nourishing tool, not an enemy, friend, or something to control at all costs. Moreover, I work with my clients on body image and body image distortion. We work together to analyze and reprogram the relationship they have with food, nutrition, their bodies, and exercise.
As a dietitian, personal trainer, and mother of two, and now four beautiful grand-children, eating disorders are of special concern to me. It’s important as parents to pay attention to our children’s eating habits, mood changes, and the relationships they have developed with food. Certainly, all adolescents are moody. But there are signs, and I urge all parents, spouses, teachers, coaches, and friends to look out for them. (Visit www.somethingfishy.org – one of many great Websites dedicated to preventing, diagnosing, and treating eating disorders.)