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You Are What You Eat





No thanks. I’m full.
Author: Cynthia Pérez





“ I ate a sandwich with a slice of ham and water, and 
nothing else. That was my meal for the day,” said 
Maria, a local sixteen year old. When Maria first 
started to cut her food intake at age 11 she never 
thought she would end up sustaining herself on just 
water for days and drop her body weight from 145 
pounds to 70 pounds. She never thought she would be 
dealing with both anorexia and bulimia—eating 
disorders. 

Maria is not the only person dealing with eating 
disorders. According to ANRED, a website dedicated to 
information on anorexia nervosa and related eating 
disorders, approximately 70 million individuals 
worldwide have an eating disorder. Without treatment, 
20 percent of these people die. For those who seek out 
treatment, about 2-3 percent pass away. Both men and 
women of all ages are affected but studies suggest 
that 10 percent of all eating disorders are male and 
90 percent are female. Still it looks like anorexia 
and bulimia affect mostly people in their teens and 
twenties.

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that typically 
involves throwing up the food a person eats. Bulimia 
is characterized as binge- eating, which is quickly 
eating a large amount of food (or what that individual 
thinks to be a large amount of food) in an 
uncontrollable manner according to the National Eating 
Disorder Information Center (NEDIC). After binge 
eating the person attempts to get rid of the food by 
vomiting, abusing laxatives, over exercising, or they 
don’t eat any food for days just to get rid of 
calories. Most of the people with bulimia seem to keep 
their normal weight, so you may not even be able to 
tell that a person is dealing with bulimia. Effects of 
bulimia include malnutrition and the wearing out of 
teeth from the stomach acid that is thrown-up said 
Jennifer Cutright M.S., R.D., a nutritionist at Salud 
Para la Gente.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder where a person 
deprives themselves of food, sometimes to the point of 
starving themselves. 

According to NEDIC, anorexia nervosa is characterized 
by the relentless determination to become thinner and 
thinner. For example, people might fear gaining weight 
and starve themselves, even if they are already way 
below their average body weight. People who have 
anorexia nervosa weigh up to 85% less than what is 
expected for their age and height. Also, people with 
anorexia cannot go their whole life without food so 
about half of anorexics develop bulimic symptoms as 
well, according to ANRED. When you are anorexic you 
are more likely to have malnutrition said Cutright. 
There is also that probability that they could have a 
lack of electrolytes, causing irregular heartbeats. 
Other harmful effects include losing hair, getting 
fuzzy hair around the face, and a woman’s period may 
become irregular. 

So what pressures people to lose weight? Mainstream 
media, as a definition of beauty, portrays extremely 
thin women when, in reality, only a small percentage 
of women look like that. Family, peers and the media 
had a role to play in Maria’s eating disorders. Her 
family would tease her, calling her “gordita” and her 
peers would say, “You need to loose a few pounds. 
Don’t eat those Cheetos.” It’s no wonder Maria 
thought, “ I always wanted to be thinner and always 
saw imperfections about my body.” What she didn’t know 
was there are other ways to be healthy and lose 
weight. 

Dieting ads seem to be everywhere. So, what can be so 
harmful about dieting? Well, it can become a habit 
that can lead to—you guessed it—an eating disorder. 
Plus, in the long run, dieting doesn’t usually work. 

“You cannot live dieting because it doesn’t have to do 
with changing your lifestyle and exercising,” Cutright 
said. 

To keep healthy you should be aware of your food 
intake, eat low-fat meals, and exercise at least 30 
minutes a day, even if it’s just walking. 

This may sound hard but you just have to practice and 
get into some healthy eating habits and you are more 
likely to live a healthy life and not have many extra 
pounds. 

For Maria, she has been hospitalized throughout the 
past five and a half years as a consequence of her 
eating disorders. She has gone through group 
counseling, individual counseling, and even family 
counseling, but she has had many relapses. She has 
obviously gone through a lot trying to leave her 
habits. Losing weight doesn’t have to be so bad.