EATING DISORDERS AMONG TEENAGE GIRLS

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An article written by Pam Kragen for the San Diego Union-Tribune on October 9, 2013, quotes Charlotte Dwyer, a 22-year old woman who has overcome her years long fight with anorexia and bulemia. When she was 14, some friends at camp taught her how to throw up by putting her fingers down her throat as a way to lose weight. She says, “(i)t started out because of body issues, but it became a comfort thing where it was soothing. I had a high level of anxiety and found that whenever everything in my life was out of control, throwing up was something I could control. I could empty my thoughts in the toilet bowl. The worst period for me was when I lived on a single king-size Snickers bar and water for three weeks.”

She frequently fainted from hunger. When she was 16, her body began showing the effects of her disorder. “(M)y hair would fall out, my nails were brittle, my skin was always dry, my gums and teeth hurt, and I was always tired.” Her eating habits caused acid-related damage to her stomach. She is now dairy and gluten intolerant. At 17, she sought professional help when she would vomit every time she bent over. At 19, she found Patty Gaffney, MFT, who practices in Carlsbad, CA. Gaffney related that studies show that 50 percent of American girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as fat, and the starving and purging weight loss technique is used by 80 percent of 8th grade girls.

The good news for Charlotte is that she is now training for a half marathon. She is one of the Lucky 13, a group sponsored by Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, CA, to receive 6 months of free pre-race training. Charlotte wants girls to know that “….being strong is not about starving yourself for a week. Being strong is about being able to admit that you need help and making the changes to get healthy again.”

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