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Dieting to Death
It has been 15 years since I was diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa and I have been recovered for 12 years. To this day if I head for the washroom after a meal my mother feels the panic start to well up inside of her. Her first reaction to the news that her daughter was bulimic, like so many other mothers, was shock. This had been going on for 7 years and she never knew and she just couldn't understand why.
Bulimia and Anorexia are eating disorders that affect girls primarily in their teens (but can start as young as 10 years old) to their early twenties. Although it is mostly girls that are affected approximately 10% are boys and this number continues to increase. Bulimia is the reoccurrence of binging and then purging. Binging is when a larger than normal amount of food is eaten in one sitting. It is like there is a total loss of control and a young girl can consume 3 times that of a grown man. Purging is when vomiting is self-induced after eating and often, excessive amounts of laxatives are used. Girls who are bulimic become very good at hiding it from everyone even their families, primarily by saving the binging and purging till alone. To people with bulimia their physical appearance has become the determining factor as to their worth as a person. The ability to binge and purge gives control to girls that have somewhere along the way lost it in their lives.
So as parents what should you look for? An abnormal occupation with weight, which will in turn lead to your daughter being preoccupied with dieting. With some bulimics there will not be a drastic weight loss, as with anorexia, however this is not always true. In the case of obesity it is unfortunately usually undetectable. I know that the clothes in my closet ranged in size from 5 to 12. If you have an 11 year old girl who says she needs to go on a diet, that is a good sign that there is trouble. Dieting can be the most dangerous enemy that your daughter ever faces.
If she decides to become a vegetarian but also gives up cake and cookie or eliminates dairy from her diet but also eliminates all high calorie foods; if she starts to constantly make excuses as to why she can't eat, like she is running late or ate with a friend; if she also starts to withdraw and seems depressed a lot of the time and spends more and more time alone. These are all very strong signs of an eating disorder.
The one thing that parents need to realize is that this is not something that will just go away or that they'll grow out of. It is a serious problem that can result in a variety of medical problems and even death. If you see some of these behaviors in your child, you need to seek professional help for her. If you start attacking your child they will become defensive and the situation can worsen. There is help available and treatments such as antidepressants are proving very successful. The first step is realizing there is a problem and then the most important step is getting help. I am living proof that there is life after bulimia.
Cass Hope is a registered massage therapist who has studied and counseled in nutrition. Cass regularly contributes to online and offline publications dealing with weight loss and nutrition. She is currently sponsoring this site: http://www.naturalsuccess.info
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