'All I want is to be slim'

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are not just about food. It is a survival mechanism to help individuals cope with their lives.

“If you ask an anorexic or bulimic girl why she misuses food the way she does, she will tell you that all she wants is to be thin. If she were thin then everything would be wonderful, yet this is patently untrue," said Natalie Smith-Chandler who specialises in treating eating disorders.

“To begin with, anorectics are thin, very thin, while maintaining in a way that is not reasonable to the ordinary person that she is fat. The normal-weight bulimic, is just that… a normal weight. If she really wanted to be thinner, she would have to find some other way than the one she has chosen, for all the agony, simply keeps her at a normal weight.

“Both the anorexic and the bulimic have put themselves in a position where they never activate what they say is their goal. The anorectic can literally die of starvation, proclaiming to the bitter end that all she wants is to be thin, while the bulimic can destroy her health saying exactly the same thing, while remaining the same weight.”

What are the long term effects of anorexia nervosa and bulimia?
According to Smith-Chandler, the process of starvation associated with anorexia can affect most organ systems. Physical signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to, constipation, abnormally low heart rate, abdominal distress, hypotension, fine body hair and lack of menstrual periods. Anorexia causes anaemia, cardiovascular problems, changes in brain structure, osteoporosis and kidney dysfunction.

Self-induced vomiting can lead to swelling of salivary glands, electrolyte and mineral disturbances, oesophageal varaces, rupturing of the stomach and development of life-threatening irregularities of the heart rhythm. - (Ilse Pauw, Health24, updated April 2011)

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