Eating disorders consuming older women

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Many of us, including health professionals, think of an emaciated young girl with anorexia when we hear of an eating disorder. First of all, anorexia is the least common of all eating disorders. These deadly illnesses exist on a spectrum from anorexia and bulimia to Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, which includes Binge Eating Disorder.

I found out the hard way (when it took two years to get my daughter diagnosed) that health professionals often aren’t taught that people with eating disorders come in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, nationalities, socioeconomic backgrounds and ages.

Not all skinny people have eating disorders. Not all fat people have eating disorders. Some “normal” size people have eating disorders.

It is common for women over age 50 to feel dissatisfied with their bodies and report feeling “fat” to the point that it is now “normal” to dislike our bodies. An example is from a friend of mine who developed terminal cancer and began shrinking. Once she had reached a much smaller size she told me one good thing about cancer was that now she was thin. Sad.

I have to wonder if a doctor was shown photos of my friend — one when large and one small, a year before she died — what photo would he or she believe is the “healthy” one. I’m certain most would choose the smaller size. Wouldn’t they be surprised to know she was very unhealthy — dying actually.

I can’t help but see the irony in our societal views. A fond childhood memory is sitting on my great-grandmother’s cushy lap and feeling like I was on a soft fluffy cloud. To me she was perfect. To the rest of the world she was a fat, old lady.

When we, as society, stop looking at the outside and start looking at souls and what is on the inside, we will all become stronger and better.

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Becky Henry
Becky Henry is president of Hope Network, LLC, [www.hopenetwork.info] based in Minnetonka, MN. She is a national award-winning author of: Just Tell Her to Stop: Family Stories of Eating Disorders, available at www.JustTellHerToStop.com. Read her blog at Coachbeckyhenry.blogspot.com. Visit www.facebook.com/HopeNetworkBeck.

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