Too Sick to Eat Essay Example
Too Sick to Eat Essay Example

Too Sick to Eat Essay Example

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  • Published: March 31, 2022
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"If it takes dying to be thin, then so be it."

-Alisa Williams

In the documentary, Thin, 4 women are filmed while they stay in The Renfew Center in Coconut Creek, Florida for women with eating disorders. The different types of eating disorders range from purging, using laxatives or diaretics, or being anorexic. The National Institute of Mental Health writes, "Eating disorders are real, treatable medical illnesses. They frequently coexist with other illnesses such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders. Some women have multiple different types of eating disorders; where they are anorexic and bulemic. Polly Ann Williams suffered from anorexia and "has been counting calories and counting fat by the time I was 11 (Hoek 386). Shelly Guillory experienced anorexia and had a tube implanted in her stomach where she was fed. Alisa W


illiams was admitted into Renfew for bulmia and had been hospitalized multiple times. Britney Robinson was the youngest, 15, and had severe anorexia that was shared by her mother.


"Those who have experienced traumatic events may engage in an eating disorder to self-manage the feelings and experiences related to PTSD. PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, is what people get after having a very traumatic event in their life. Alisa was one of these people. In the film, she recalls her doctor asking her mother ""What are you going to do about your daughters weight?" and my mother said, "What do you mean what am I going to do about your daughters weight? She's 7. And, uh, what's wrong with her weight? And he said, "Well, she's fat."

At such a young age, this could be very traumatizing in that she's criticized for something tha

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she doesn't know is even "wrong." From then on, she now thinks of herself as "fat" because when she was 7, she was told by a professional that she looked wrong.
Competitive Culture

"Particularly in modern Westernized countries, models, the media and dieting fads currently influence women and girls to be as thin as possible."

Shelly has a identical twin sister and says in family therapy "The other day at the beach, and she Mom asked me straight up, "Kelly's not here, do you think Kelly's big?" And she doesn't even weight 100 pounds ... And it's not that I think she's thin, It's just that... I don't know. I don't want to look exactly like her. I don't want to be bigger than her either (Hoek 390). In her last sentence lays a lot of competition and a needing to be different. Shelly did not choose to be a twin, and with her mental disease she needs some type of control. Shelly purging and not eating is her way of having control.

Britney also goes through competitive culture. She states in a group therapy session that "There's so many thin girls and I'm not one of them. Britney is the youngest, being 15 and seems to have the most trouble loving herself. Britney was a compulsive over-eater and became over weight very young. Her mother also has an eating disorder. She started to lose weight rapidly and now has many medical problems. Since her realization of being over-weight, Britney has not stopped trying to lose weight even when she's considered under weight in a physician's eyes. Her eating disorder comes from comparing herself to other girls and wanting

to look like them.

Fragmented Families

Many families are affected by a family member having an eating disorder. It causes the family to blame themselves and not fully understand the disorder. Colleen Thompson reports, "Some people find themselves feeling angry towards themselves or the person suffering. You may be angry with yourself for not knowing about the problem sooner, for not preventing it from developing, and for not being able to fix the problem immediately. Eating disorders is also a very aggressive disorder and needs a lot of treatment and attention. This may make the family of the patient very mad and not understand why they aren't getting better.

Peer Pressure?

Although peer pressure could be a contributing factor to the start of an eating disorder, it's very unusual for one person to tell another person that they need to not eat and/or throw up to be skinnier. Fox news calls it "Social transmitted anorexia. But then again, it is Fox News.

Call to Action

Concerning Trauma, PTSD can be treated with intense therapy and pharmaceuticals. All 4 women in the film had to leave The Renfew Center because their insurance runs out and they cannot pay to stay there. When someone is at risk, they should have centers where the patients can receive full care and not have to worry about money while they are in treatment. Being taken out of treatment, like the women had been, can cause new problems and an unstable environment. This does not help the battle these women are fighting.

The media is a huge factor in an eating disorder. Magazines, TV, newspapers all report on how the super stars of America are getting fat, or

getting too skinny, or this or that (Brewerton 300). Young women see this media and look around and wonder, "Everyone loves them, how can I look like them?" This turns into young women looking around at their friends and seeing them receiving positive attention that they want. Competitive culture is caused from wanting to look like someone that you don't look like. Young women are easily impressionable and seeing something like "So and so is too skinny," or "So and so is too fat," causes them to believe that they aren't good enough.

Having family counseling and family members understand what is going on with the patient is so important in their treatment. But it's also beneficial for the families to let the patient work through treatment without worrying them or causing extra stress. The patient needs to worry about themselves instead of trying to explain why to their loved ones.

Symptoms of the illness vary depending on the type of eating disorder. The most common types of eating disorder are Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge. Anorexia is a life-threatening condition which is characterized by low body weight, extreme fear of losing weight and distorted perception of shape. People suffering from this type of disorder use efforts to control their body weight and shape (Brewerton 285). Such potentially interferes with their health and life activities. When one suffers from anorexia, they will excessively limit calories or else use alternative methods to lose weight like excessive exercise or use of laxatives and vomiting after eating. Attempts to reduce one's weight even when they are underweight can lead to severe health problems.

Bulimia is also a life-threatening life disorder

whose effects may be adverse to the individuals suffering from the disorder (Cooper 8). Individuals with bulimia will restrict their food during the day which leads to mire binge eating and purging. Such episodes are accompanied by eating a large amount of food within a short time and avoiding extra calories in an unhealthy way. Due to shame and intense fear of gaining weight from eating one may force vomiting or use alternative methods to reduce the body weight. Individuals having bulimia are more obsessed with their body weight and shape, and they may judge themselves severely.

Binge eating disorder is whereby an individual eats too much, and they may not be able to control their eating. One may eat quickly or maybe eat more food than the expected even if they are not hungry. In some cases, one may continue eating until they are uncomfortably full. After the binge, one may feel guilty or ashamed by their behavior and respond to excessive exercise or purging. Embarrassment may lead to eating alone with the aim of bingeing. Pica is a form of eating disorder that involves persistent eating of nonfood items like soap, cloth, talcum powder or even dirt. Eating such substances may be inappropriate for the person’s developmental level and may be an antisocial practice (Cooper 5). Persistent consumption of nonfood items may lead to medical complications like poisoning and intestinal infections. Pica comes along with other disorders like autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability.

Rumination disorder has to do with regurgitating food after eating, but it is not associated with other eating disorder or medical condition. Food is brought back in the mouth without gagging.

The regurgitated food is sometimes swallowed again or spit out. The disorder may have adverse effects and result in malnutrition especially when the food is spat out or if an individual eats less to prevent the behavior (Cooper 3). The occurrence of the disorder is common in people with intellectual disability. Restrictive food intake disorder is characterized may failure to meet the minimum daily nutrition requirement because one is not interested in eating. Individuals may avoid food with certain sensory characteristics like color, texture, smell or even taste. The disorder can result in severe weight loss or in other cases failure to gain weight in childhood and nutritional deficiencies which can cause health problems.

The causes of eating disorders are not well established. Genetics may play a significant role in people with certain eating disorders. Some people may have genes that increase their vulnerability to of developing eating disorders. Individuals with first-degree relatives or parents with eating disorder may be more susceptible to developing such habits (Fairburn et al. 415). Psychological and emotional health may contribute to eating disorders among individuals. They may have low self-esteem, perfectionism or impulsive behavior and troubled relationships. The society is very influential on the lifestyles people will adapt. Peer pressure and the messages portrayed in the media can catalyze the desire to be slim.

There are risk factors that put an individual to the likelihood of developing eating disorder. Teenage girls and young women are more likely to have anorexia or bulimia as compared to teenage boys and young men. Eating disorders can occur across the various age groups right from the childhood, adolescent years and in older adulthood. It should

be noted that cases of eating disorders are more common during the teenage period and early 20s.Mental health disorders may as well be contributing factor to eating disorders (Fairburn et al. 412). Individuals with depression and anxiety disorder are more likely to develop eating disorders. The dieting is an important aspect that may lead can make a person develop eating disorders. Individuals who lose weight are influenced by positive comments from other by changing their appearance. It may result in taking dieting too far which leads to eating disorder. Activities related to sports and artistic activities may put individuals at the higher risk of developing eating disorders. Coaches, for instance, will encourage athletes to lose weight, and this may interfere with their eating habits. Most successful models are thin and have body shapes. It may put them at higher risks of developing eating disorders.

Eating disorders may cause various complications which may be life threatening. These disorders may lead to depression and anxiety and potential suicidal thoughts or behavior. These diseases are known to bring about problems with growth and development. It may also lead to substance use disorders and possible death. It is advisable to be vigilant and note indicators of eating disorders (Fairburn et al. 410). Suggestive behaviors may have to do with skipping meals or failing to take meals in pretext of some commitments.. Individuals may also opt to make their meals rather than sticking to the family meals. Withdrawal from normal social activities may also be an indicator to eating disorders.

Finally, eating disorder is a serious health condition that has adverse effects. Eating disorders may arise from a desire to lose body

weight or to maintain body shape. Sporting activities or modeling may influence people eating habits due to the requirement of losing body weight. The media is powerful tool in controlling people’s eating habits and peer pressure may also contribute to eating disorders. Magazines, TV, newspapers all report on how the superstars of America are getting fat, or getting too skinny, or this or that. Eating disorders can occur across the various age groups right from the childhood, teenage years and in older adulthood. Having family counseling and family members understand what is going on with the patient is so important in their treatment. It should be noted that cases of eating disorders are more common during the teenage period and early 20s.

Work Cited

Fairburn, Christopher G., and Paul J. Harrison. "Eating disorders." The Lancet 361.9355 (2003):407-416.

Cooper, Zafra, and Christopher Fairburn. "The eating disorder examination: A semi?structured interview for the assessment of the specific psychopathology of eating disorders."

International Journal of Eating Disorders 6.1 (1987): 1-8.

Brewerton, Timothy D. "Eating disorders, trauma, and comorbidity: Focus on PTSD." Eating Disorders 15.4 (2007): 285-304.

Hoek, Hans Wijbrand. "Incidence, prevalence and mortality of anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders." Current opinion in psychiatry 19.4 (2006): 389-394.

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