Eating Disorders & 5 Stars Battling These Disorders
Eating disorders are surprisingly common, and yet most sufferers feel very alone in their struggle with this debilitating set of disorders. All too often, those suffering in this way assume they’re completely on their own during this difficult period of their lives. However, there have been numerous celebrities over recent years who have been brave enough to speak up about their own battle with eating disorders.
It may seem as though celebrities have absolutely nothing to feel insecure about. They seem to have it all – riches, beauty, and success. So, when these people admit to their problems and disclose the fact that they’ve had treatment for an eating disorder, it gives hope to everyone else out there who is suffering in the same fashion. It just goes to show that even those who seem to have everything they could possibly want or need still have worries about their image and doubt their own abilities.
Around 30 million people in the USA today are suffering from an eating disorder. Several of that number are high profile personalities. Eating disorders don’t discriminate. People of any gender, age, or socioeconomic status can develop a problem. Developing an awareness of this can be very helpful to those who feel that they are isolated and are suffering all by themselves.
What Are Eating Disorders?
The term “eating disorder” refers to a problem with how someone eats. Eating disorders are harmful not only a person’s physical health but also to relationships and mental well-being. Eating disorders come in many forms. They include:
- Anorexia – people who eat minimal amounts deliberately are said to suffer from anorexia. They will eventually reach an extremely low body weight and are terrified of looking fat and putting on weight. Their personal body image is severely distorted and, even when they’re excessively thin, they still believe they’re fat. People suffering from this eating disorder impose severe restrictions on the amount and type of food they’ll eat. However, they will spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about calories and food. Some people suffering from anorexia will starve themselves or exercise excessively, while others use enemas, diuretics, or laxatives to shed the pounds.
- Bulimia – Bulimia is characterized by binge eating and purging. Sufferers are unable to stop themselves from consuming excessive amounts of food and then making themselves sick afterward to get rid of the calories. They often use diuretics, weight loss aids, or laxatives to reduce their weight and may exercise excessively. They judge themselves severely based on their weight and body shape. Often, people who have bulimia go unnoticed by their loved ones since they can be any size or shape. While those suffering from anorexia are often very thin, those with bulimia could be overweight, an average bodyweight or very thin. They also hide their habit of binge eating and then purging from other people.
- Binge eating – those with a binge eating disorder lack the ability to control their eating. They will eat huge amounts of food even if they don’t feel hungry and then suffer feelings of guilt and sadness. Often, they will gain weight with many becoming extremely overweight. Those suffering from this problem will eat more rapidly than other people and may eat on their own to prevent other people from seeing the amount of food they’re consuming. Unlike people with bulimia, binge eaters don’t make themselves sick, exercise excessively, or use laxatives.
- ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) – people with this condition aren’t interested in eating and may actively avoid food. They either fail to gain weight or lose weight although they have no fear of putting on weight and have a normal body image. Instead, they avoid food because they dislike the appearance, texture, taste, or smell of food. They may have a fear of vomiting or choking.
How Does Having Eating Disorders Affect Your Emotions And Health?
Having an eating disorder can result in severe problems, both emotionally and physically.
People with anorexia may suffer from problems as a result of low body weight and undernutrition including:
- Low blood pressure
- Tiredness, weakness, dizziness or fainting
- Irregular or slow heartbeat
- Bloating and constipation
- Irregular or missed periods
- Delayed puberty
- Slow growth
- Weak bones
- Difficulty in focusing
- Memory problems
- Depression, sadness, and loneliness
- Anxiety and fear of weight gain
- Self-harm or thoughts about self-harm
People with bulimia may suffer from:
- Lowered blood pressure
- An irregular heartbeat
- Tiredness, weakness, dizziness, and fainting
- Blood in stools or vomit
- Erosion of the teeth and cavities
- Swelling in the cheeks and salivary glands
- Depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem
- Drug or alcohol addiction
- Self-harm or thoughts about self-harm
People with binge eating disorder may suffer from:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnoea
- Fatty liver
- Poor self-esteem, depression, or anxiety
- Feelings of helplessness, anger, or loneliness
- Difficulty in coping with stressful events or strong emotions
People with ARFID could suffer from problems such as:
- A lack of protein, minerals, and vitamins
- Needing to be tube fed or given nutritional supplements
- Generally health problems
- OCD or anxiety
- ADHD or autism
- Problems at school or home due to eating behaviors
What Is The Cause Of An Eating Disorder?
There isn’t a single cause of eating disorders. Environment, stressful events, and genes can all have a role to play. There are, however, a few things which are known to increase the risk of developing an eating disorder including:
- Excessive focus on appearance or weight
- Poor body image and low self-esteem
- Dieting from a very young age
- Participating in sports or activities which focus on body weight like ballet, wrestling, ice skating or gymnastics
- Having a close relative who suffers from eating disorders
- Mental health conditions like OCD, depression, or anxiety
How Is An Eating Disorder Diagnosed And Treated?
It’s possible for a mental health professional or a healthcare provider to diagnose an eating disorder by observing the patient and obtaining useful information about symptoms, history, eating behaviors, and thought patterns.
An eating disorder is best treated by a multidisciplinary team including a dietician, doctor, and counselor or therapist. The treatment will include medical care and nutrition counseling as well as talking therapies which may be within the family, as part of a group or on a one-to-one basis. Doctors may prescribe medication to treat depression, anxiety, binge eating or some other mental health problem. Some patients may need to be hospitalized due to medical complications and extreme weight loss.
Although many people believe that it is only women who suffer from eating disorders, this is, in fact, not true at all. Both women and men can suffer from an eating disorder. This is clearly seen in the world of entertainment where there is such a strong focus on beauty.
Lots of celebrities, both male and female, have suffered from eating disorders and many have overcome them successfully. Here are just five of the best known prominent individuals who have spoken up about their problems in the hope of helping other people who are suffering too.
1. Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette, a well-known singer and actress, first began her battle with anorexia at a young age when trying to get her first break as a music artist. Having faced a lot of pressure to look beautiful by the media, Morissette finally managed to overcome her eating disorder when she started to see her therapist. Today, she practices mindfulness, doing regular yoga, writing a journal, and meditating to help her balance her lifestyle.
2. Jordan Younger
Instagrammer and blogger Jordan Younger (or The Balanced Blonde) spoke out about her eating disorder in 2015. Her disorder is known as orthorexia, a disordered eating pattern which focuses excessively on food that is believed to be pure and healthy. Younger developed this problem after becoming a vegan and struggling to maintain a balanced diet. Although orthorexia has not been officially recognized by psychologists, it is becoming a very common problem. Sufferers cleanse their bodies, become so hungry that they eat normal food then suffer from such severe guilt that they then embark on a longer and stricter cleanse.
3. Princess Diana
As a member of the royal family, Princess Diana was very brave when she spoke out in public back in 1994 about her self-harming and bulimia. Thanks to her speech about eating disorders, many more people found the courage to begin discussing their own problems. For the rest of her life, the Princess worked hard to increase public understanding and awareness of bulimia and other eating disorders.
4. Elton John
Singer Elton John certainly has had his share of mental health problems. Having suffered from drug abuse, alcoholism, and an eating disorder, the big name star went through a treatment programme for bulimia and addiction. For a long time, he struggled to even admit his problem. However, once he finally admitted his need for help, he began the journey to recovery. He was close friends with Princess Diana, and the pair supported each other through their battles with bulimia. Over the years, Elton has learned to love his life, his sexual identity, and his body. Now, he focuses himself on his humanitarian work and his family.
5. Jane Fonda
Well known for her stunning physique and great beauty, Jane Fonda was actually one of the early famous names to openly talk about her eating disorder. The actress told the press how she had struggled to cope with bulimia since the age of 12, and her ongoing cycle of binging, purging, then restricting her food intake. Fonda blamed the way in which she was brought up for her problems, saying she was told that if she was to be lovable she had to be pretty and slim. Since then, she has fought to raise public awareness about eating disorders and is now seen as a positive role model for all women.
What Should I Do If I’m Struggling With An Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders don’t discriminate. They can strike no matter who you may be, what you actually weigh, where you’re living, or the amount of money you have. They can affect people from all walks of life, regardless of their professional, genetics or marital status. People of all classes and social stations can be equally affected.
Anorexia nervosa, binge eating, and bulimia nervosa are the most commonly seen eating disorders today. Some people may only have one of these disorders, others have a combination of them. Many sufferers also have mental health problems such as difficulty in controlling their impulses, anxiety, depression or a substance abuse disorder.
Eating disorders aren’t just life-changing, they’re also life-threatening, and, from the five celebrities that we see speaking out above, we can see that nobody is exempt.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder there are a few steps you should take:
- First, tell somebody. Find someone you can trust such as a teacher, parent or counselor and tell them what is happening to you. Ask them for their help.
- Get some help. If eating disorders are caught at an early stage there is a much greater chance of a full recovery. Get an appointment with a specialist in eating disorders or with your own doctor as quickly as possible.
- Attend your appointments. Treating eating disorders takes effort and time. You will need to put in the work to learn more about your emotions and yourself. If you have any questions, always ask them.
- Have patience with yourself. There is a lot to learn about eating disorders and change can only happen at a slow pace. You need to be patient and take good care of yourself, surrounding yourself with loving and supportive people.
There are many reasons for an eating disorder to develop. Whether you have a distorted body image, a stressful life or poor self-esteem, it’s important to remember that your problem is nothing that you should be ashamed of. You needn’t keep your eating disorder secret from your friends or family. Stop denying that you have a problem and get the help you need.
Many of us follow celebrities eagerly seeking their advice about lifestyle and fashion. Therefore, we should also be inspired by the way in which so many of them have overcome their eating disorder.
Thanks to their honesty, many celebrities have built up greater public awareness and understanding about eating disorders and the stigma is slowly being broken down. Asking for the help that you need is essential for your long-term recovery, so follow the celebrities and speak up about your problems. It is only then you can get the help and support you truly need to get better.