Who Not to Invite to Dinner

*Editor’s note: This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week. A government study from 2014 states that in Canada alone, 600 000 – 990 000 individuals are living with an eating disorder.  Today on the blog we have guest author Monica Loewen.  Monica is currently journeying through life alongside a loved one who is living with an eating disorder.  She has some very candid insights to share with us.  You can also follow Monica’s story on her blog.

Anorexia Nervosa [nur-voh-suh]:
an eating disorder…characterized by pathological fear of becoming fat, distorted body image, excessive dieting, and emaciation. (dictionary.com)

That’s the clinical definition of anorexia.  It’s a pretty good definition, it’s accurate.  But to those who live alongside anorexia every day, it is many other things as well.  For someone who is journeying through life with an anorexic, it is not nearly so clinical.

Anorexia is the unwanted guest at the dinner table – the one that makes every meal so awkward and so difficult.  The guest that makes everyone uncomfortable, because no one really knows what to say or do when someone at the table doesn’t eat.  When your child pushes food around their plate, making it look like they’re eating.  When perogies are tucked into pockets when no one’s looking, meatballs are quickly put on someone else’s plate, scrambled eggs are dropped on the floor.  When excuses are made, lies are told, and there is simply absolute refusal to eat.

Anorexia is a cruel taskmaster, forcing your loved one to push their body beyond what’s possible.  Starting with healthy exercise, but pushing through to fanatical calorie-burning.  Frantic walking, finding the furthest way to get to a destination, just to burn a couple more calories.  Hidden workouts in bathrooms and hospital rooms as soon as others leave the room.

Anorexia is a liar.  It tells your partner that they’re fat, that they’re worthless, that no one could possibly love them the way that they are.  Anorexia says “Just a few more pounds.  Lose just a few more pounds, and then you’ll look great.”  It says “There’s control in the dieting, in the exercise, and you need to keep it together, you can’t loose control.”  Anorexia looks in the mirror and whispers “look how fat you are” while staring at skin and bones.

Anorexia is a thief.  It steals health and wellness, leaving behind a shell of a person.  It steals confidence from young girls who should still be twirling through life believing they’re princesses.  It steals careers from college students with amazingly bright futures.  It steals hope from young girls who dreamed of one day becoming mothers.  It steals daughters and wives and brothers and grandsons.   It steals peace from within homes and breaks bonds within families.

Anorexia is a killer.

If you’re concerned that someone in your life may be struggling with an eating disorder, get help.  Reach out to your family physician or therapist.  Continue to seek out treatment options and advocate for your loved one.  And then get support for yourself – no one should walk this road by themselves.