Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do you have an eating disorder?

Contributed by Becky Achen, CPT

“My first year of college, I ran at least four miles every morning, seven days a week. I would eat cereal, or a granola bar and head to class. Sometimes, after class, I would tell my friends I was going to nap instead of eat lunch. I would take a few afternoon classes and then head back to the gym to lift weights, bike, elliptical, or run more. A few hours later I would leave the gym and meet my friends for dinner, during which I usually ate a full meal. A few days a week, I played intramural sports on campus or in city leagues.

For six months, I worked out vigorously for 3 hours a day, every day, eating well under the amount of calories I needed to fuel that type of activity. No matter what I did or what people said, I never thought I could work out enough. I would look in the mirror and it would only make me run harder, workout longer, and vow to spend more time in the gym. I wore baggy t-shirts, sweatshirts, and sweats all the time.  

For an entire week straight, I slept over lunch and didn’t eat.  Something that used to be an occasional occurrence was becoming the norm. One day, I realized I would have to skip a workout and I totally freaked out. The obsession took over and I mentally could not deal with it, how was I going to make up for the lost workout? I was anxious and angry and missing the workout was all I could think about for days.

I don’t know how it happened, but I suddenly saw how many things I had given up because I needed to workout. I finally realized how many times I had skipped eating lunch. Exercise was running my life.  My obsession with how I looked was taking over. It was then that I asked my friends to help snap me out of it. I don’t know how I realized it, but I am lucky. There is no doubt in my mind that I could have easily continued on the path that I was headed own, towards a full-blown eating disorder.”

We addressed eating disorders in January (Recognizing Disordered Eating), but how do you look at yourself and recognize if you have an eating disorder, or better yet, how do you recognize if you are heading down that path? Did you identify with the story above? Did any of the comments, attitudes, or beliefs match your own? As an athlete, you are already at a higher risk for developing disordered eating because of the emphasis on having low body fat, the amount of calories you expend training, and often a desire to be perfect.

First, we encourage you to look at your habits right now and ask yourself the questions below.

·         Do I spend a lot of time working out, especially on top of my training for my sport?
·         Do I skip things I would like to do to workout instead?
·         Do I skip meals?
·         Do I prefer to eat alone?
·         Do I eat almost nothing all day and then stuff myself full of pizza, chips, candy, etc. in the evening?
·         Have I ever made myself vomit or take a laxative?
·         Do I feel guilty or bad about myself if I take a day off from workouts?
·         Do I look in the mirror and feel fat, no matter how thin others may say I am?
·         Do I count every calorie I eat?
·         Am I afraid of gaining weight?
Many of these same questions are a part of the self-assessment tests below. Please take them, they will give you a score telling you if you are at risk for developing an eating disorder, or if you may currently be suffering from one. No one will see the results but you, so be honest with yourself. If you can catch disordered eating early, you can get help before it develops into a full blown eating disorder.

Disordered eating isn’t always easy to spot. You don’t have to be able to see someone’s ribs or witness them vomiting for there to be a problem. Individuals with severe, full blown eating disorders did not start out that way. It is a progression that starts small. Assess your own attitudes, feelings, and behaviors related to food and be aware of your own propensity to develop disordered eating. And keep yourself on the path to a healthy body image. 

1 comment:

  1. Contrary to the misconception that eating disorders affect only women, there are reports that show one out of ten patients with eating disorders is a man. And a large but unreported number of these men are athletes.