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women & ED



-Up to 19% of college aged women in America are bulimic. Rader Programs.

-0.5 % - 3.7 % of females suffer from Anorexia Nervosa in their lifetime. National Institute of Mental Health. Eating Disorders NIH Publication No. 94-3477 Rockville, MD, 1994

-1.1 % - 4.2 % of females suffer from Bulimia Nervosa in their lifetime. National Institute of Mental Health. Eating Disorders NIH Publication No. 94-3477 Rockville, MD, 1994

-Anorexia is the 3 rd most common chronic illness among adolescents. Public Health Service’s Office in Women’s Health, Eating Disorder Information Sheet, 2000.

-1 in 5 women struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating. National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) guide, Eating Disorders: Facts About Eating Disorders and the Search for Solutions


Eating disorders affect millions of women around the world. They’re most common in cultures that focus on weight and body image and can affect women of all races and ethnic backgrounds. People who have a negative body image and those who diet are at risk of developing an eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or a category called other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED). Eating disorders have serious health consequences and require treatment. Recovery is likely with the help of specially trained health care providers and a supportive family.


Disordered eating is a term used to describe when someone doesn’t have all the symptoms of an eating disorder, but their eating patterns and behaviors put them at risk for developing an eating disorder. For example, anorexia can start when dieting becomes too extreme; binge eating disorder or bulimia can start because dieting often restricts the amount and types of food, so when a diet is broken, it can lead to uncontrollable eating and loss of control around food.


Women are constantly exposed to unrealistic standards in the media such as airbrushed images and very skinny models and may feel pressure to lose weight or look a certain way. Because of these pressures, many women develop bad body image and self-esteem. Body dysmorphia is when someone sees her or his body shape, size and appearance differently from what everyone else sees. Body distortion causes a person to over-focus on flaws or imperfections that they are insecure about. Most people who struggle with an eating disorder have body distortion issues that are very hard to get rid of, because they often worry about how they look and what people think of them.


Although there is no single known cause of eating disorders, several things may contribute to the development of these disorders:


 - Culture. In the United States, extreme thinness is a social and cultural ideal and women partially define themselves by how physically attractive they are.

 - Personal characteristics. Feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and poor self-image often accompany eating disorders.

 - Emotional disorders. Other mental health problems, like depression or anxiety, often occur along with eating disorders.

 - Stress. Things like starting a new school, on the job stress, being teased/bullied and traumatic events like rape can lead to the onset of eating disorders.

 - Biology. Studies are being done to look at genes, hormones, and chemicals in the brain that may have an effect on the development of, and recovery from eating disorders.

 - Families. Parent's and family member's attitudes about appearance and diet can affect their kid's attitudes. Many times, eating disorders are found in multiple family members.




 * Start by writing down or journaling about 5 parts of your body that you like (ears, eyes, legs, teeth, hair, etc.).

 * Write down things that your body can do when it’s healthy (running, dancing, hiking, biking, etc.).

 * Write down 10 things you like about yourself (caring, responsible, funny, smart, creative etc.).

 * Make a list of accomplishments you are proud of.

 * Buy clothes that you feel comfortable in and give away any that make you feel self-conscious or uncomfortable.

 * Relax. Take a bath, listen to music, play a game, sing, or meditate.

 * Spend time with positive people who make you feel comfortable and you can be yourself around.

 * Remind yourself that everyone’s body is different and that not everyone is meant to be the same shape or size.

 * Be critical of advertisements, magazines and the media. Many people will write letters to a company if they find their ads or articles upsetting or hurtful.

 * Make yourself smile when you look in the mirror. It might feel weird at first, but after a while, you could start to notice a difference in the way you see yourself.





Approaching a friend who you think has an eating disorder can be very hard. People who have eating disorders are often in denial, and therefore very defensive about their behaviors. They also tend to be very secretive about their behaviors, and often refuse to talk about their problems. Despite the strong reactions, it’s very important to continue to try and help someone you care about. In most cases, they need a lot of support and encouragement from friends and family to help them take the first step to seek treatment.





 - Talk about the issue in a supportive and caring way

 - Remind them how much you care about them and how important they are to you

 - Read as much as you can about eating disorders to better understand what they’re going through

 - Be direct

 - Talk to them in private, not around other people or in public

 - Instead of using the word “you” say “I” (ex. I’ve noticed that you have been eating less, or I’ve noticed that you always go to the bathroom after meals)

 - Be patient and go slowly, it may take them a while to come to terms with their issue, and admit that they are struggling

 - Always be there as a support and encourage them to seek treatment, if necessary

 - If you feel uncomfortable talking to them directly or feel as if they won’t listen, write a letter

 - Talk to your parent(s) or a professional such as a teacher, school counselor, health care provider, nurse, or another trusted adult that will respect your friend’s privacy

 - Be encouraging





 * Sounding threatening or judgmental

 * Talking about food or weight

 * Offering them advice regarding food, exercise, etc.

 * Controlling what they eat and how much

 * Being the “food police” (watching or commenting on everything they eat), which could cause them to feel uncomfortable and not trust you

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