Eating disorders: What's the big deal?

Posted By Kantorlaw || 21-Aug-2013

Introducing guest blogger Marci Warhaft-Nadler. Marci is a published author, founder of the Fit vs Fiction workshops, and a writer for the Huffington Post. Her own recovery journey has been inspiration for her important work in reaching out to young men and women, and teaching them how to build strong self-esteem and positive body image. Marci's message: self worth should not be measuered in pounds.

It's hard to believe that the dangers related to eating disorders and body image issues are still being completely underestimated by the general public. There are still so many people who believe that body issues are really no big deal and that eating disorders only affect a few, troubled, teenage girls and aren't anything that most parents have to be concerned about. This misconception is one of the reasons why more and more people are suffering and finding it incredibly difficult to get the help they need.

Sadly, we're getting to a point where no age is too young or too old to be struggling with body image issues and yet they are still so misunderstood. I'm not sure why it is that we diminish body image and eating disorder issues but I have a theory:

Hating our bodies has become normal and even expected. It's a heck of a lot more likely that you'll hear a woman bemoan her belly for being flabby than praise it for being healthy. It's become perfectly acceptable to insult our own bodies and we seem to be taking full advantage of it. Glamour magazine once challenged their readers to write down every time they had a negative thought about their bodies throughout the day. The results showed that 97% of women admitted to having at least one, "I hate my body moment" in a day. On average, women had 13 negative body thoughts throughout the day!

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a woman a few years ago when I was starting my Fit vs. Fiction body image workshops at schools. I was talking about my fear and frustration around the number of kids struggling with how they look. I remember being floored when the woman said," What's the problem? My daughter's 5 years old and she always rubs her belly and says she's fat. We ALL do it. It's no big deal."

YES IT IS.

It's a very big deal.

What a lot of people don't understand is that hating our bodies can become so ingrained who we are that it starts to control every thought we have and every action we take. Feeling that our physical appearance is somehow inadequate can keep us from living our lives the way we should be. The really scary part is that until we get help and can stop abusing ourselves the way we do, our feelings of self-hate will just get deeper and grow stronger.

After battling my own severe eating disorder issues for most of my life, I dedicated myself to helping people start appreciating themselves for who they are instead of judging who they think they're not and in the process am hearing from so many men and women who are battling against their own negative thinking and want desperately to be free from it once and for all.

Anyone who still thinks this is just a teen girl issue would be surprised to hear about the variety people who contact me about their body image battles: A mom worried about her 6 year old son's fear of being fat, a 14 year old girl who says none of the girls in her school eat breakfast or lunch, a new mom in her 30s stressed over the changes to her body, a 57 year old woman dealing with menopausal weight gain and the mother of three girls who actually said, " My daughters are fat! I wouldn't mind them catching a little of that Anorexia."

We need to start showing ourselves the same love, kindness and respect we show our closest friends and STOP berating ourselves for our perceived imperfections. We need to STOP making it okay to put ourselves down in front of other people and when we're alone. It is not okay.

We also need to understand that this negative behavior won't stop until we acknowledge the fact that body image and eating disorders are, indeed, a BIG DEAL and need to be taken seriously.

Step 1: Stop judging yourself

Step 2: Stop judging others

Step 3: Stop allowing friends and family to put themselves down in front of you. Be clear that it's not the kind of talk you want to be a part of.

Step 4: If you notice that someone you care about is engaging in negative talk or behavior around their bodies, don't ignore it. Step in. Find out what's driving the behavior and when necessary search out resources where they can get the support and help they may need.

My eating disorder hijacked my life from my teens through my thirties and every dream it crushed, every relationship it destroyed, every time it put my health and life at risk was, most certainly, a very big deal.

Self-Worth shouldn't be measured in pounds.

About Marci Warhaft-Nadler

Like too many young women these days, Marci struggled with body image issues for most of her life. Feeling like she could never live up to the unrealistic standards she had set for herself, she often resorted to unhealthy diet and exercise techniques that resulted in emotional and physical problems that she struggled with for years.

Her amazing recovery and ability to turn trauma into triumph has been her catalyst for reaching out to other young men and women who are facing the same obstacles.

Fit vs. Fiction allows Marci to tell her story in an engaging and meaningful way. Her in-depth group seminars and one-on-one counselling allow her to connect with her audience by focusing on real-life examples, and dissecting them to reveal the ugly truth behind the pretty pictures.

Phone: 416-669-4646 Email: marciwarhaft@rogers.com

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