Secluded up in the Hollywood hills I had the opportunity to work with a disordered eating and drug rehab facility. Six months ago I was contacted to fill in for 6 weeks and fill in as their fitness director for the patients staying at the clinic. It was a very rewarding experience and I would like to share a few things I learned during my time there.
1. Disordered Eating Affects Over 20 Million Women & 10 Million Men Sometime in Their Lives.
The current figures show that at some point 30 million Americans will suffer from some form of disordered eating. Some of the common ones include:
- Atypical anorexia nervosa (weight is not below normal)
- Bulimia nervosa (with less frequent behaviors)
- Binge-eating disorder (with less frequent occurrences)
- Purging disorder (purging without binge eating)
- Night eating syndrome (excessive nighttime food consumption)
- Orthorexia Nervosa (unhealthy obsession with "righteous eating")
We all at some point struggle with body image and being confident in our own skin. Don't jump to passing judgement on someone simply because they're overweight or what you might consider "too skinny". You haven't walked a mile in their shoes or spent a second in their mind, so what makes anyone feel like they should have the audacity to pass judgement on them.
That person is FAT! Well what you don't see is that they just lost their significant other, and food has become their way of coping.
That person is too skinny. What you don't see is this person has been told they were ugly their whole lives and now compensate by trying to fit into the standards that society deems fit as 'beautiful" by starving themselves eating as little as possible, often times complaining of headaches and lethargy.
Without coming off sounding like a hippie, we all have to live on this planet together while we're here; don't make life harder for everybody by being a jerk. We need to practice compassion and empathy.
2. Talk to the individual if you believe they may have a substance abuse or disordered eating problem.
The prevailing theme I got from all the people I was interacted with was that they eventually had an intervention to make some type of positive change in their lives. The problem was that for some individuals it came a bit too late. Whether they had become morbidly obese or having organ failure due to rampant drug use, these people didn't just wake up with these health problems. Many of them said they wish their loved ones had spoken up sooner.
Often people have these problems and it sits in front of us in plain sight. So if you suspect someone you love has a problem, try to get them professional help before it becomes a chronic issue that will be even harder to overcome.
3. Learning to disassociate food as good or bad.
There's no such thing as "clean" eating. Food is food and I for one LOVE all kinds of food. When an individual begins to think of a typical food like rice as bad or dirty, that gives some insight to both their knowledge of nutrition but also their relationship with food in general.
Many have a fascination about fitting things into a category. I eat paleo, I eat low fat, or I eat gluten free. Most of the diets people think they're following is simply marketing. Everyone was all about juicing a year ago, the narrative has changed very recently.
Education is the key to truly being the master of your health.
What's a quality protein? How about carbs? What happens if you happen to eat too LITTLE carbs and fat? These are common dietary scenarios that individuals live everyday with. Learning more about what goes on in YOUR body will do wonders.
Related: Just say "no" to that detox diet or juice cleanse by Dr. John Berardi
Ultimately being healthy should be the metric we all strive to achieve. Being happy with who you are and striving to be the best version of yourself is what matters the most.