Eating Disorders: The Conversation That Needs to Begin

by Julia Hawkins ’22

Eating disorders. What are the chances that someone you know has an eating disorder? It may be more likely than you think. Within the US, according to The National Eating Disorder Association  roughly 30 million people suffer from an eating disorder, and only 40% of these men and women ever fully recover. There are multiple forms of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa,bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Anorexia is commonly associated with excessive food restriction, thus forcing the body to survive on its own body fat. Bulimia is commonly known as ‘binging and purging’, where one eats a copious amount of food, followed by purging, such as forced vomiting.. Bulimia is likely one of the most dangerous eating disorders because of the damage the body endures from throwing up constantly. Binge eating disorder is the  copious consumption of food that is not purged. The biggest effect of this eating disorder is an increased susceptibility for diabetes. 

Eating disorders have the ability to be deadly if gone untreated for long periods of time. Up to 20% of people with an ED die due to complications  However, there are multiple forms of treatments available, such as therapy and inpatient treatment.  Yet, most people suffering with an eating disorder are adolescents who feel as though they can’t talk or reach out, or they have  financial difficulty and cannot pay for treatments. Living with an eating disorder is awful, no matter what type it is. It blurs one’s outlook  on life, and you truly can’t live with an eating disorder. Your body may continue to function and you can survive, but you can’t experience life the same  because of how much an eating disorder alters and affects your life as a whole. It’s a deadly and harmful illness that affects millions – but is hardly ever discussed.

I have the ability to speak on eating disorders from personal experience, and it’s one of the most harmful and exhausting things that I’ve ever gone through and continue to struggle with. Without sugar coating it, my ED is probably the one thing that has messed me up for so many years now. The constant struggle to recover fully is a roller coaster of  high moments with clean streaks, and low moments of relapse. It may take years before I am fully recovered, but recovery is possible for anyone struggling with an ED – it’s all about finding what works for you. Everyone who struggles with this has his or her own story, and there isn’t one universal treatment that works for everyone. However, a support system is one of the most helpful tools a person can have. While professional guidance is credited as the best form of aid for someone suffering from an eating disorder, having access to people who offer love and support is proven to be extremely beneficial, even without professional intervention. 

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, please don’t hesitate to reach out to them. A simple outreach can make a greater impact than one may know. Support from a loved one can make all the difference and help push someone towards recovery. 

Resources: – National Eating Disorder Hotline -ED Crisis Text

line – Eating Disorder Hotline