Laura Emery, Field Editor
When most of us sit down to a meal, we
understand that food is good for us. It nourishes our body with the
nutrients needed for life.
But, for many people, food can hurt.
This is when food is no longer a friend;
it becomes the enemy. Whether you’re a compulsive overeater, or struggling
with bulimia or anorexia, food is a folly friend — causing comfort one
minute and intense anxiety the next. Fueling this unhealthy relationship
with food is usually a control issue and/or an obsessive concern with body
weight, shape, and size.
Eating disorders like compulsive
overeating, bulimia, and anorexia are becoming increasingly more common in
this country. Ten million American women and one million men suffer from an
eating disorder. And the numbers are growing at an alarming rate.
Compulsive overeaters gorge themselves
with food as a way of feeling comfort, and then deal with low self-esteem
when their weight becomes unhealthy and their behavior spirals out of
control. But, no matter how much they want to stop, they can’t stop —
and their weight balloons, and so does their susceptibility to
For bulimics and anorexics, eating food
is no longer about nourishment; it becomes about control, insecurity, and
secrecy — sometimes even obsession. They can spend hours a day obsessing
about and plotting their interactions with food, and how to stay thin and
keep their eating disorder a secret. Symptoms vary with every individual,
but common symptoms include looking in the mirror and seeing somebody else,
a different person — one who is “too fat.” They might also think being
thinner means being in control, and that a “perfect body” is the only
route to happiness. Or, they might be physically and mentally terrified of
eating, and feel extremely guilty if they do.
While symptoms may vary between eating
disorders, those affected by these disorders share a common bond: they are
powerless over food, their lives are unmanageable, and their obsession is
shrouded in secrecy. This is where the World Wide Web can be a life-saving
source of information.
If you or someone you love is suffering
from an eating disorder, please get help. The World Wide Web is a great
initial resource for information-gathering and support, but it is not a
substitute for professional medical or psychological help.
Eating Disorders Association
Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
for Eating Disorders
Mental Health Information Center
Institute of Mental Health
Eating Disorder Foundation
Web sites are valuable resources for information
on any eating disorder.
Anonymous (OA) is a 12-step program of members dedicated to recovery from
compulsive eating. In Overeaters Anonymous, you’ll find members who are
extremely overweight, even morbidly obese; moderately overweight; average
weight; underweight; still maintaining periodic control over their eating
behavior; or totally unable to control their compulsive eating.
Web site has a number of articles on understanding compulsive overeating,
and provides resources for getting help.
Web site covers bulimia, also called bulimia nervosa, which is a
psychological eating disorder. Bulimia is characterized by episodes of
binge-eating followed by inappropriate methods of weight control (purging).
Here, you can find out more about identifying someone with this problem, how
to help them, and where to get more information.
specializes in information about eating disorders, including bulimia,
anorexia, and binge-eating disorder, plus related topics such as body image
and obesity. The site offers books on eating disorders at discounted prices,
many free articles about eating disorders, newsletters, links to treatment
facilities, organizations, other Web sites, and much more.
Groups & Counseling
article talks about eating-disorder groups for support and recovery.
offers a support-group listing as a service to people seeking support as
they recover from eating disorders. This Web site is dedicated to offering
support, inspiration, education and treatment opportunities for people with
eating disorders and those who love them.
Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders is one of the largest, oldest
and most comprehensive Web sites available on the topic. It includes a
tremendous amount of valuable information on anorexia, bulimia, binge
eating, and compulsive overeating, plus online peer support forums and a
large treatment finder.