Anorexia nervosa--the eating disorder characterized by drastic weight loss and a distortion of body image--continues its upward climb. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), between 5 and 10 million people in the United States suffer from this disorder to various degrees, and 90% are young women.
The association points out that at the moment the group with the highest risk is young adults and not teenagers. A lot of times, women don't even realize they are on the thin red line that could lead them to anorexia. “There are many social pressures and the obsession with their bodies makes some women just simply stop eating so they can lose weight: one of the most serious mistakes they can make," according to one of their latest documents.
The NEDA believes that the problem should be tackled from different angles. One of them is to replicate recent European legislation. For example, in a revolutionary bill, the French Parliament will penalize any advertisement or person that encourages weight loss, including fashion magazines and websites.
France is right behind Spain and Brazil, where laws have already been promulgated and agreements already signed with fashion leaders intended to modify pathological image parameters.
However, the association also points out that personal effort is essential. That's why, in order to help women with eating problems "reconcile with their bodies," the NEDA offers guidelines for "loving yourself more" and learning how to eat well without punishing your body with absurd hunger strikes.
Enjoy these rules and keep them handy just in case you need them sometime:
1) Appreciate all that your body can do for you. Remember that with each passing day, your body gets you closer to your dreams: it runs, dances , breathes, laughs.
2) Keep a list of 10 qualities you appreciate about yourself, qualities that aren't related to how much you weigh or how you see yourself. Read this list often. Add new qualities you discover along the way.
3) Remember that "true beauty" isn't just related to the body. Being happy and self-confident, and accepting who you are is what makes you feel beautiful. Beauty is a state of mind and not a body condition.
4) Look at yourself as a whole entity. When you see yourself in the mirror or in your mind, don't focus on specific parts of your body. Look at yourself the way you would want others to see you, as a whole person.
5) Surround yourself with positive people. It's easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you're surrounded by people who support you, and give importance to and recognize that what really counts is how someone is by nature.
6) Quiet those internal voices that say your body is not "right" or that you're "fat and imperfect." You can replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. The next time your self-esteem is affected by these feelings, quickly think about just how much it's worth to feel good about yourself.
7) Wear comfortable clothes that make you feel good about your body. A lot of times, we force ourselves to wear something that doesn't suit our build just so we can be trendy. Work with your body, not against it.
8) Become a critic of the messages society and the media send out. Question those messages that standardize beauty norms and urge you to be what you're not.
9) Think of something pleasant you can do to let your body know how much you appreciate it. Take a bubble bath, curl up for a nap, find a place where you can relax and feel at peace.
10) Use the time and energy you spend on worrying about how to achieve an impossible weight on helping others. Sometimes, helping other people makes you feel good about yourself and at the same time you contribute to making positive changes to your surroundings.
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