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worried you might have an eating disorder?
Eating disorders do not discriminate between genders, ages, races, religions, body shapes and weights, and socioeconomic statuses. So basically, nobody is immune.
If you do have an eating disorder, please understand that YOU didn't do anything to cause it.
EDs are complex and can be caused by a combination of biological (genetics, hormones, nutritional deficiencies), psychological (low self-esteem, negative body image, inter-generational baggage), and/or environmental factors (dysfunctional family situations, professions that promote or require a certain body type, developmental trauma, cultural issues, peer-pressure, stress). Eating disorders commonly co-exist with other conditions, like anxiety disorders, substance abuse, or depression.
The good news is that the broader society seems to be coming around and accepting that "thin" often comes at a price that is not worth paying.
As a Jewish community, shifting mindsets sometimes takes a bit longer, but together we can make it happen. It HAS to happen, because eating disorders actually have the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness.* It is our communal responsibility to effect change because we now know that it can be pikuach nefesh (saving a life).
Together, we can work to shift the culture.
Here are some signs to look out for:
According to the American Psychiatric Association, "red flags" of an eating disorder can include;
Excessively talking about fat, weight or calories.
A pattern of eating a limited choice of foods and/or a pattern of occasional binge eating foods.
Excessive exercise or excessively standing, pacing or fidgeting.
Severely limiting the amount of calories consumed to avoid weight gain.
Vomiting after meals or abusing laxative, diuretic and diet pills.
Feeling self-conscious about one’s eating behaviors.
Avoidance of social eating settings, preferring to eat alone.
Intermittent fasting is under consideration to include in disordered eating behaviors.
* Smink, F. E., van Hoeken, D., & Hoek, H. W. (2012). Epidemiology of eating disorders: Incidence, prevalence and mortality rates. Current Psychiatry Reports,14(4), 406-414.