Eating disorders are more common than the average person might think. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people are seriously misinformed about these illnesses and have a tendency to do more harm than good when faced with someone who is struggling with an eating disorder. The best way to end the stigma against eating disorders is to educate more sufficiently on the topics. In light of this, here are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about eating disorders.
1. They are Self-Inflicted
This idea comes from the fact that in order to have an eating disorder, a person must take action to decrease or increase how much they eat. However, eating disorders are about as much of a choice as suicide is; the underlying and unseen mental health issues are the cause, not a conscious decision on the part of the individual.
Eating disorders are also often the result of escalation. What started out as calorie counting becomes an obsession with eating a few calories as possible. What began as regret after an evening of eating unhealthy food became a way to enjoy food yet continue to lose weight. It was not a conscious choice. One thing led to another and suddenly the person can’t stop binging and purging, another can’t eat more than a handful of food a day, and yet another always feels hungry no matter how much they eat.
2. A Person with an Eating Disorder Can Just Change Their Behavior
Eating disorders are not something a person just does. Eating disorders are classified as a mental illness and cannot just be halted on a whim any more than someone can just stop being depressed. Eating disorders require support and treatment, not shame and anger.
The stigma against mental illness is perpetuated when people suffering from eating disorders are told that their mental illness is their fault and that they are hurting themselves and everyone around them. This does not stop the illness but instead makes the person feel worse and more likely to hide their suffering instead of seeking help.
3. Eating Disorders Only Encompass Anorexia and Bulimia
When one thinks of eating disorders, they tend to imagine people who aren’t getting enough calories, whether by purging or not eating. However, compulsive overeating is also an eating disorder, and it experiences far more shame than the more commonly known disorders.
Western society has a very unfavorable view of fat people. They garner less sympathy than someone who has become skin and bone as a result of their disorder. However, being overweight has health ramifications as well and can be very difficult to overcome, particularly when you experience nothing but shaming and less than sympathetic advice.
Overcoming this stigma is just as critical. When someone cannot seem to stop overeating, it is less a matter of their physical health and more telling of their mental state. Treatment for any eating disorder is important, as is the support of friends and family.
Eating disorders are a very complex matter in a society obsessed with thinness and weight loss. Not only must people face shame from their loved ones but some may actually be praised for their weight loss. Both can easily encourage eating disorder.
It is also important to remember that an eating disorder can happen to overweight people just as easily as it can to thin people. If you think someone you know may be developing an eating disorder, get them help. Do not treat them as though it is their fault and do not act as though they could simply stop the behavior. They need help and as a loved one, it is your job to help them get it.
Michelle Peterson is a recovering addict who wishes to eliminate the stigma surrounding people who struggle with addiction. Ms. Peterson’s mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it.
The debate about good health and fitness always revolves around diet and exercise. You hear from doctors, nutritionists, fitness experts and friends that all you need to do to stay in shape is eat well and hit the gym often. So you eventually follow the “eat less, move often” mantra too, but what if, despite your best efforts, you see no real results. The reason might be that you’re overlooking the third and vital piece of the puzzle; sleep. This doesn’t, by any means, undermine the importance of exercise and diet towards fitness, yet without proper sleep they remain less efficient.
Why Sleep is Integral for Health and Fitness?
Sleep gives you the energy you need to work out on a regular basis, regulates your metabolism, rejuvenates your body, repairs your muscles and boosts your immune system. This not only helps you keep fit but also generally healthy. On the other hand, not having enough sleep can make you cranky, fatigued and fat. What's more alarming is that it can also put you at the risk for serious issues like hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. According to research, even a few hours of a sleep shortfall can shorten life span.
To understand how sleep helps us get in shape, we need to take a look at what happens within our body when we sleep. There are a lot of hormones that are released and work best only when we are sleeping. Foremost is the growth hormone. When we sleep, the body is technically at rest so there's not much energy consumption. This allows the growth hormone to use up all the spare energy and work efficiently. The growth hormone is responsible for rejuvenating the body, building and repairing muscles, promoting fat loss and reducing fat storage. That's essentially what you need to stay fit. According to research, the amount of fat you can reduce, by exercises and diets, is lessened by 55% if you don’t sleep well. That's a huge number and the feeling that your hard work at the gym is not being rewarded enough can be quite depressing. So while you count your calories and reps don’t forget to count your hours of sleep.
Become a Sleeping Beauty!
Sleep also helps to make you look younger. The growth hormone released during sleep rebuilds and repairs body cells making your skin look younger and fresh. No wonder, big brands advertise and stress the importance of applying night cream before going to bed claiming that it will make you look 20 years younger. They work because cellular regeneration and absorption of nutrients to the skin is at its peak when you sleep. However, keep in mind that even the best and most expensive night creams won't work if you are not getting enough quality sleep. Lack of sleep affects the flow of nutrients to the skin making the skin look dull and unhealthy. So instead of spending hundreds of dollars on beauty creams, just keep up with your sleep schedule and you will look and feel fabulous.
Sleep Healthy, Eat Healthy.
Other hormones that come into play while you are sleeping are Leptin and Ghrelin. Leptin is the satisfying hormone which is produced when you sleep. Ghrelin, on the other hand is the hormone that promotes hunger and is stimulated from lack of sleep. Simply put, when you don't sleep enough your stomach will feel empty. Even after having your normal meals you will feel hungry and less satiated. As a result you are likely to select bigger portions and end up eating more than you should be. Now that's not a good thing if you are looking to get fit.
What’s worse is that lack of sleep will make you crave for unhealthy foods. Studies show that the chemical imbalance caused by lack of sleep affects your brain’s ability to make complex decisions and to control your urge especially related to food.
Contrary to the popular belief that you only need sleep when you are tired, sleep has tremendous effects on other bodily functions too. Health, fitness and appearance are all tied to sleep. So start prioritizing sleep and the next time you plan on pulling an all-nighter, remember messing with sleep means messing with your health.