It’s no secret that we live in a diet-obsessed and beauty-crazed society. Just turn on the TV and count the seconds before you catch an ad for the latest weight-loss fad or seductive images of a bikini-clad model biting into a fast-food chain’s hamburger. Many women and men are feeling the pressure to achieve society’s narrow definitions of “beauty.” Fighting our body’s natural weight and size may begin as an innocuous effort to increase body satisfaction yet can quickly unravel to a serious and potentially life-threatening illness. Nearly 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. For tips on how to improve body image, read Dr. Long’s blog: Three D’s to Improved Body Image.
“Everybody Knows Somebody” is the theme for this year’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (February 24-March 2, 2013). NEDA — an association dedicated to education and prevention of Eating Disorders — urges everyone to “do just one thing” during awareness week and offers ideas how to get involved on its website.
Most people can say they’ve heard of or know of somebody who struggled with Anorexia, Bulimia, or Binge Eating Disorder. However, there is much confusion about a lesser known eating disorder that is often hidden under the guise of health – Orthorexia. The term Orthorexia describes individuals who develop an unhealthy obsession with avoiding any and all foods that are deemed unhealthy. What’s wrong with that you ask? Well, an extreme fixation with eliminating many types of foods or ingredients can lead to malnutrition and even death. Read the signs and symptoms below:
- Constantly discusses diet, exercise, and nutrition details
- Obsesses about the quality and health properties of food
- Avoids situations where he/she will not be able to adhere to diet plan
- Goes to great lengths to avoids certain foods or ingredients in foods
- Packs special foods to bring to restaurants or social gatherings
- Has extreme labels for food such as “clean” or “poisonous”
- Overly concerned about food preparation
- Takes an exorbitant amount of supplements and herbal remedies
- Is highly judgmental of those who do not follow the similar guidelines
- Feels guilty if not able to strictly follow diet regimen
Despite what kind of unhealthy relationship someone may have with food or body image, help is available and recovery is possible. For more information on treatment and counseling please visit DrJamieLong.com. Also, NEDA has information and eating disorder resources available via its website and helpline: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org, NEDA Helpline: 800 931-2237.
Dr. Jamie Long is a licensed psychologist who is passionate about helping women, men, couples and families lead meaningful lives and achieve mental wellness. She offers a full range of psychological services within the offices of The Psychology Group Fort Lauderdale and specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, addictions, personality disorders, and other co-occurring challenges.