My Personal Connection and Purpose:
The purpose of my catalyst conference is to create awareness and destigmatize eating disorders in teenagers. High school is a grueling place and I witness first hand what happens and the amount of stress that students are put under. There is an extreme lack of education on the subject of eating disorders and as a result, causes this debate of the truths and myths of them. My goal is to help educate teenagers and their parents, and hopefully, that means knowing when someone starts to develop an eating disorder and ways in which you can be there for someone who struggles with one. Locally, I plan to work with a club at my school, MHA (Mental Health Alliance) and work to create workshops to educate students in my school and break down the stigmas surrounding eating disorders. Hopefully, through my findings and tips, you will be able to learn something new as well!
So what is Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder?
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that mainly deals with weight loss. Generally, this means that people with anorexia are restricting the amount of food that they are consuming and the types of food. Interestingly, our society generally associates anorexia with the image of being skinny, however, it has been proven that anorexia and obesity are common to be seen together. Anorexia can be a life-threatening mental illness if left untreated.
Bulimia Nervosa is linked to a cycle of binge eating and then purging. Typically purging is either self-induced vomiting, laxatives, enemas, or an excessive amount of exercise to try and reverse all of the calories that a person has just consumed.
Binge eating takes the form of large consumptions of food at one time. This usually leaves the person in discomfort and also showing signs of guilt due to the binging. It is usually characterized by the person losing control and not being aware of when they are binging.
- Up to four percent of all females in the U.S. will experience bulimia, and generally people will develop bulimia in high school.
- 15 percent of women from the ages 14 to 24 are struggling with an eating disorder
- According to a study done by the APA (American Psychological Association) 26 percent of teenagers said that they have binged at least once a month due to stress from school.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Significant weight loss
- Sometimes dressing in larger clothing
- Infatuation with food, weight, and the idea of being “fat”
- Exercise Often
- Denies feeling hungry
- Frequent trips to the bathroom after a meal
- Drinking excessive amounts of water or other beverages with a low-calorie count
- Sometimes having a fear of eating in public or eating in front of others
Binge Eating Disorder:
- Feels like they are not in control when they eat
- Guilt or disgust following meals
- Presenting signs of low self-esteem
- Distancing from family and friends tends to eat on their own
My Call to Action
I think one of the biggest problems that our society struggles with in terms of eating disorders is that lack of education. There are so many stigmas and stereotypes associated with eating disorders. My hopes in doing this project were to call attention to the truths of eating disorders and hopefully allow others with the necessary resources they need. If you know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder hopefully these signs and symptoms can help you to spot it and help them get the necessary help they need. As for me, moving forward, I plan to work with a club at my school and hopefully present on this topic to educate the kids in my school. I want to help de-stigmatize eating disorders and make it a topic of conversation at my school, not something that people shy away from. I challenge you all to have those difficult conversations, and if you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder don’t hesitate to seek for help.
I hope that you can take some of the knowledge you have acquired today and take it back to your own community to help de-stigmatize eating disorders. Below is a link to a website that details how to talk to someone with an eating disorder, warning signs, basic information on each of the disorders, the myths behind eating disorders, what not to say to someone with an eating disorder, and possible treatment options! I think this is a great resource to start with and it offers a ton of easy information to digest!
Quiz on Eating Disorders
This quiz is intended to see how much information you have retained, in the hopes of breaking down the stigmas and false information surrounding eating disorders!
“Eating Disorders.” Amita Health, www.amitahealth.org/eatingdisorders?gclid=Cj0KCQjwnKHlBRDLARIsAMtMHDEXt9JilpEbFhiGScQbKmt45b99WZBuVMEi7-USm2z0wLIwTZM9csAaAnkVEALw_wcB.
“Is Your Teen at Risk for Developing an Eating Disorder?” HealthyChildren.org, www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/emotional-problems/Pages/Is-Your-Teen-at-Risk-for-Developing-an-Eating-Disorder.aspx?gclid=Cj0KCQjwnKHlBRDLARIsAMtMHDE5sD2xapS_q2m2m5nvByQRSOwa_jKPNmHxV9m9TQknBurGvhvid5caAgR-EALw_wcB.
“Teen Eating Disorders: Tips to Protect Your Teen.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 May 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teen-eating-disorders/art-20044635.
“What Are Eating Disorders?” National Eating Disorders Association, 7 Aug. 2018, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/what-are-eating-disorders.
Writers, Staff. “How to Detect & Treat Eating Disorders Among Students .” AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org, AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org, 28 Nov. 2018, www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/student-eating-disorder-resources/.