Thursday, January 21, 2010

Our complicated relationships...with food

A few days ago, the New York Times published a piece called Narrowing an Eating Disorder, by author Abby Ellin, of Teenage Waistland: A Former Fat Kid Weighs In on Living Large, Losing Weight and How Parents Can (and Can’t) Help (PublicAffairs). The article sheds light on "the nation's most common eating disorder[:]" Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, which has become a type of catch all for eating disordered behavior that doesn't fit neatly into the diagnosis of anorexia or bulimia. Many with EDNOS, as it's known, appear to be a healthy weight, which can cause people/ doctors/ insurance companies to claim that they aren't sick enough for treatment or help. But sadly, "[a] study in the Oct. 15 issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry reported that the mortality rate associated with Ednos exceeded that for anorexia nervosa and bulimia."

Nicole Johns, author of Purge: Rehab Diaries, published last spring, is a young woman who braved telling her own story of being diagnosed with EDNOS and subsequently going into an in-patient treatment facility for help. Johns has received a tremendous amount of praise for her memoir and her book continues to do well, perhaps because so many people are able to identify with her story and the diagnosis, which is finally being realized, taken seriously, and discussed in public.

I wanted to bring both the NY Times article and Nicole's memoir to light today, because when checking out two popular MTV shows this past week, I watched two beautiful young women, Snooki on Jersey Shore, then Callie on the Real World DC, describe their struggles with unhealthy body image and their pasts which included and may still include unhealthy/ eating disordered behavior. It's the prevalence of it that is so shocking and the fact that their stories are sadly so similar to so many. Hopefully the dialogue continues.

For more information, resources, and support if you or someone you know may be suffering from an eating disorder, head to the National Eating Disorders Association.

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