When hearing the terms Anorexia, Bulimia, or other eating disorders, one typically pictures an adolescent or young adult struggling with self esteem issues, or battling a fear of obesity as they desperately try to. More than 10 million people suffer from these eating disorders, and while it’s a common misconception that only teenagers and young women fall victim to eating disorders, experts say more and more women are showing up at their clinics in midlife or even older. Older women are feeling the pressures of society to achieve an ideal thinness and perfection, or in some cases they are dealing with the aftermath of child bearing years or divorce. Middle-aged women may also be more susceptible to the increasing trend toward youth and fitness found in today’s media.
Women of all ages are engaging in the same destructive behaviors; restricted eating, laxative abuse, excessive exercise and binge eating. The frightening part is older women may not even realize they are developing an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or Binge Eating Disorder because they may not recognize the symptoms of an eating disorder. Women will also conceal the problem by attributing these behaviors to aging or menopause.
It’s important to distinguish between normal behavior patterns of healthy living and, and some extreme behaviors that might lead to eating disorders. Recognizing the warning signs of an eating disorder can be difficult in the beginning as many begin with a simple attempt to diet. Some signs to look for are:
- Fear of gaining weight or becoming fat no matter how thin they are.
- Denial of extreme weight loss due to a distorted body image.
- Disturbance in menstrual cycle or loss of menstrual periods altogether.
- Overeating large amounts of food and then feeling guilty for eating too much.
- Using inappropriate ways after a binge to eliminate food from the body by self-induced vomiting or using laxatives or diuretics.
- Compulsive or obsessive exercise to burn off calories.
- Obsessive concern with weight and body shape.
The dangers of having an eating disorder are sometimes not evident to the average person. Anemia, osteoporosis, and bone density loss are some things that can go undetected, and are causes of malnourishment.
Not all eating issues are true disorders of course; most people have ongoing difficulties managing their weight and eating habits. At Shane Diet Resorts, we work with adults of all ages to address issues relating to weight and fitness and help our guests learn better eating habits and lifestyle changes through nutritional counseling, exercise plans, and most importantly building long term friendships and support systems.