Life milestones and eating disorders
It is well documented in the research that there are certain times when individuals are more at risk of developing eating disorders than others. Most of these times correspond with major life milestones that either involve physical change or focus on shape and weight, everything an eating disorder loves. It’s no surprise then that we see the highest incidence of eating disorders in adolescence, because what matters most at this time, our peers and social acceptance.
At this point of our lives we are so focused on being accepted and worrying about exclusion that we go to great lengths to make sure this doesn’t happen. Not to mention the massive physical, emotional and psychological changes, including cyclonic hormonal shifts that leave us unable to recognise this ever changing body we’re in. Add in the quest for identity and sense of self and you have a real challenge in amongst a society and schoolyard that wants to prey on your weaknesses.
The next big times of change occur when the wedding bells chime and the halls are bombarded with the cry of an infant, or the other way around, whichever you prefer. A big deal is made of our wedding day which mostly centres around perfection, leading to diets, gym workouts, facials, fake nails, hair cuts and a whole heap pf makeup for the ladies. The problem being that dieting is one of the major risk factors for eating disorders.
When you’re preparing for the birth of a baby, lots of focus is placed on the health and wellbeing of mum and baby. In the lead up, most of us know to accept the changes that come with pregnancy. We know to attend our antenatal and hypnobirthing classes to prepare us for the labour, but no one really talks about the changes to your bodies after and I’m not just talking about mum here. It is now well documented that there are changes to dad’s body and that males also experience hormonal shifts as well. There’s almost an expectation that the body will bounce back and go back to looking the way it did before, right? Wrong! Again we see another risky time for mums and dads to succumb to the pressure of dieting.
Then a few years down the track we have the effects of ageing; menopause for women and andropause for men. At this point we see a change in work life, roles and responsibilities, life direction, physical health and psychological change.
So what’s my point. Well….eating disorders are not just a young person’s illness anymore. There are numerous times throughout the lifespan where we are all at risk. If you have the other genetic and temperamental factors then dieting/cleansing/fasting is all risky business. Weight loss or change to the way you look is not the elixir of health. Just remember that the next time you’re tempted by the false hopes of the latest female mag telling you lies.