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Hidden Secrets: Eating Disorders

Secrets buffer us from sharing too much, but there are some secrets that could cause us great harm. Eating disorders are a major health issue and those affected will go to great lengths to keep them hidden from just about everyone. They affect all races and ethnic groups and have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Those of us who’ve suffered from an eating disorder will tell you we‘re not interested in sharing our problems with family, friends or medical professionals.

Hiding behind the food

We’re happy to make you a great meal, but not eat it ourselves. Some of us are great at playing hide and seek with our food by not letting the food on our plate touch, hiding the green beans in a napkin and moving the food around so it looks like we’ve eaten more. Tiny portions are our bread and butter and we will snack before having a big meal!

How does it start?

Eating disorders may begin over a period of time or develop in a matter of months from a life event like a school dance or beach trip. Eating disorders are so common that one or two out of 100 American students struggle with them. Anorexia is more common among girls and younger women than boys and men. This disease isn’t about food, but associating being thin with self-worth.


Womenshealth.gov outlines the following risks:

  • Teen girls between the ages of 13 and 19 and young women in their early 20s are most at risk.
  • Eating disorders are happening more in older women as well. In one study, 13% of American women over 50 had signs of an eating disorder

Warning Signs

  • Food rituals (only eat a particular food)
  • Skipping meals
  • No food touching
  • Checking the mirror for perceived flaws
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Sleep problems

How does it affect us?

If you’re anorexic, your body does not get the energy it needs from food, so it slows down and stops working over time. It can affect your body in the following ways:

  • Heart problems, low blood pressure, slower heart rate
  • Thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
  • Kidney stones, kidney failure
  • Lack of periods, which can result in problems getting pregnant
  • During pregnancy, a higher risk for miscarriage, C-section delivery, low baby birth weight
  • Anemia (when your red blood cells do not carry enough oxygen to your body) and other blood problems

Fighting the disease!

Set up a treatment plan that you and your physician design together. Go to all therapy sessions and follow a meal plan. Practice smart eating habits with fruits and vegetables. Don’t try to hide your body under clothing that doesn’t fit. Choose styles and outfits that make you feel good. Recovery is a long load, but you can become healthier and stronger with support. Always remember, you are strong, confident and your beauty comes from within.


Educational Resources:


You may reach the Helpline at (800) 931-2237.




The information on this site is intended to raise awareness and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis or as a substitute for healthcare by your physician.

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