The Tale of Anna, Bobby, and Bella Estella – National Eating Disorder Week

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Anna, Bobby, and Bella Estella are young people who want to be “friends” with everyone. They do not discriminate between weight, height, race, age, gender or popularity status. Unfortunately, they have a deep and dirty secret.

Anna will always convince you that starving yourself is fine and normal. Bella will tell you to vomit or use laxatives to expel the food you just ate. Bella Estella will encourage you to eat excessively.

They will act like your best friend, but they are not. That is because Anna is anorexia, Bobby is bulimia, and Bella Estella is binge eating. They are eating disorders.

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Eating disorders are serious and sometimes life-threatening conditions. They involve a pattern of unhealthy eating that gradually builds to the point where a person feels like they have lost control. In the United States, 1 or 2 out of every 100 students experiences an eating disorder. Below is a description of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.

1. Anorexia: People with anorexia become obsessed with weight loss and try to lose weight by restricting how much food they eat, exercising excessively, vomiting after eating and/or misusing laxatives or other dietary supplemants. This obsession with weight loss often interferes with a person’s normal daily life and activities. People who are experiencing anorexia are typically underweight.

2. Bulimia: Similar to anorexia, people with bulimia fear gaining weight and take extreme measures to avoid weight gain. People with bulimia often go through cycles of binging on food and then take measures to get rid of the calories they ate, including vomiting and/or misusing laxatives or other dietary supplements. Some individuals with bulimia will try to avoid weight gain by not eating for long periods of time (fasting), restricting how much food they eat, and/or exercising excessively. People with bulimia typically appear to be of an average weight.

3. Binge Eating Disorder: People with this condition regularly eat an excessive amount of food but do not try to purge the food they ate. They feel out of control while binge eating and shame or guilt afterwards.  People who binge eat often do so alone and in secret.

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Here are some common symptoms associated with eating disorders:

  • Skipping meals
  • Making excuses not to eat
  • Extreme dieting or excessively focusing on healthy eating
  • Worrying constantly about being fat
  • Talking about needing to lose weight
  • Leaving meals often to go use the toilet
  • Exercising excessively
  • Eating in secret
  • Regularly eating much more food (often sweet or high-fat foods) than a person normally would during a meal/snack
  • Feeling depressed, shameful, or guilty about your weight or eating habits
  • Withdrawing from normal acitvities

If any of these symptoms sound like something you or someone you know are experiencing, it is important that you reach out to a health professional for support.

You can also contact me, Noor Khalil, to discuss healthy eating at nkhalil@cornerhealth.org.

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