Eating disorders: helping someone help themselves

by Aileen Boone
Concerned parent

Editor’s note: The author’s daughter was recently diagnosed with anorexia and was hospitalized in London. As part of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Ms. Boone, with permission from her daugther, wrote this article as a way to help educate others on the disease.

It started as an innocent diet. It was the summer between my sixth and seventh grade and I just wanted to lose a few extra pounds. I could afford to lose some weight, and with the permission of my parents I began to eat healthier and exercise more since I had more time in the summer.
As I started to lose the weight, I began to get compliments about my looks. This felt great! All my hard work was being noticed.
At some point, I began restricting certain food types like carbs and fat. No matter how much my parents tried to educate me on proper eating habits, it just didn’t work.
I began to look at the fat content of everything I ate and I tried to restrict carbs. The more my friends and school told me to eat or told me how skinny I was the more I pressed toward my goal. I began to only eat fruit at lunch; eventually, the hunger pain resolved and it was easy.
It seemed like a dark cloud began to hang over me. I no longer enjoyed school or time with my friends. I began to isolate myself and refused to go out to eat or do things with my friends.
My mom took me to the doctor and psychologist who told me I was OK. This only reinforced my behavior and made me think my parents were being too protective. My mother persisted and found a pediatrician and psychologist with experience in eating disorder behaviors. I had never weighed myself much before because we did not have a scale in the house. But this began my weekly appointments with the doctor and the scale.
It all happened so fast. I was able to lose three pounds a week and lost more than 25 pounds by the time I saw the doctor. My heart rate dropped to 42 beats per minute as it tried to conserve itself. My urine showed protein in it, which meant that my muscle was being broken down. And my brain was so starved that I could not rationalize any longer.
Luckily, with treatment, love, support and prayers, I am back to a healthy weight and realize that this disease is not about food. It is about trying to control situations and about not expressing your feelings and emotions.
Anorexia is just one type of eating disorder. Another is bulimia, which is when the person eats and then vomits. Another disorder is binge disorder where people will eat excessive amounts and then fast or vomit.
All these disorders ruin your zest for life and your relationships, but the good news is they can be overcome with the help of trained professionals and hard work.