Tumbling Over Eating Disorders: A Constant Threat for Athletes

A good competition involves pivotal moments, which determine who wins and loses. Athletes face a lot of pressure that can lead to eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia. In some sports, athletes are required to have a certain weight in order to compete. Gymnast, dancers, and figure skaters have the highest incidence of eating disorders because their sport focuses on appearance.

Most athletes believe that to win the competition and be successful their bodies must be thin. When that belief goes askew and disordered eating results, this can lead to poor performance because the athlete does not receive proper nutrients the body requires. Those closest to athletes suffering from an eating disorder either do not recognize the signs of anorexia and bulimia or do not believe the athlete would become self-abusive.

In addition to the physical effects of disordered eating, a psychological component also exists. As a former competitive gymnast, the pressure and stress of meeting a certain size became a challenge. I started watching everything I ate and drank while working out five to eight hours a day and competitiveness once or twice per week. The scrutiny from competitors, coaches and judges kept me on edge and I often wonder whether my size became more important than how well I performed.

All athletes strive for perfection and will do whatever it takes, even if their life is at risk. To illustrate, one of my competitors began losing weight without proper nutritional advice after being told she needed to drop a few pounds and eventually become bulimic. Anorexia and bulimia also plagued US gymnast "Christy Henrich." Word has it that along the way, a judge told Henrich she was too fat to excel or succeed in gymnastics. To combat that negative mental view of her body, she began extreme dieting and eventually developed an eating disorder. She died from multiple organ failure at the age of 22, weighing only 47 pounds.

Pinpointing the external signs of anorexia and bulimia are the first step to saving the life of a loved one. Some of those signs include:

Anorexia:

Excessive weight loss
Always thinking about food, calories, and body weight
Wearing layered clothing
Mood swings
Avoiding food activities

Bulimia:

Excessive weight loss or gain
Being overly concerned with one's weight
Visiting the bathroom after meals
Depression
Excessive dieting followed by binge eating
Always criticizing one's body

Eating disorders can be deadly, if not treated quickly. To learn more about these two eating disorders or to find a medical provider that treats anorexia or bulimia, please visit the http://www.iTriageHealth.com or download iTriage for your smartphone.

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