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Eating Disorder Awareness Week
UNDATED -- Millions of Americans are suffering from an eating disorder. It could be someone in your close family, and you may not even know it. That's why the theme of Eating Disorder Awareness Week is "I had no idea."
Yoga instructor Tara Nabholtz is also a registered nurse at the non-profit Womanline in Dayton, which helps women and teens with eating disorders. Tara battled anorexia in college. Wanting to fight off the freshman 15, she would workout excessively and eat very little.
"I ended up dropping to about 80-85 pounds when I was in college," she said.
Like many young people with eating disorders, Tara's anorexia was in part triggered by a distorted view of the body. Kids nowadays don't have to look far to find images promoting anorexia and bulimia, also called thinspiration. Some of the sites even list dozens of tips on how to properly maintain an eating disorder.
"You're trying to look like these people on Facebook and then you're reading all these things they do. You read they ran 5 miles today and then you think well maybe I should run 10," Tara said.
"Eighty percent of 10 year olds are worried they're fat or are afraid of being fat. Third graders are worried about this. The body image piece is starting earlier. Body image and body dissatisfaction is a major risk factor for an eating disorder," said Dr. Meredith Glick Brinegar, who counsels eating disorder patients. She says pictures posted online and through social media have contributed to society's negative body image issues.
While we talk a lot about anorexia and bulimia, the American Psychiatriac Association says binge eating is actually the most common eating disorder. And it's not what many of us do on Thanksgiving. Binge eaters have a loss of control when they eat, feel a sense of shame after a binging episode, and because of that, many times they do it in secret.
"They may look happy and functional on the outside, but they could be struggling on the inside and are carrying a big secret with them," Dr. Brinegar said.
If you suspect a loved one has an eating disorder, Dr. Brinegar recommends talking to them about it, and the sooner the better to prevent further damage to the body.
"I recommend you come ready with specifics. Specifics things you've noticed, they're going to the gym twice a day. Or they've lost a lot of weight. Or they're withdrawing. That's another big thing. People with eating disorders, their world becomes really small," she said.
For more information about Eating Disorder Awareness Week or to learn how to get help, click here.
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