Eating Disorders And Motherhood: A Secret Assault

When bringing a baby home, it’s hard to foresee all the stress you will endure raising them as you snuggle up to that perfect, soft face.

All the tough times are nothing compared to the joy of family, but coping with the trials and tribulations can prove difficult.

Some mothers, unfortunately, turn to an eating disorder to keep a sense of control in their chaotic lives.

Anorexia, where one deprives themselves of food, and bulimia, where one binges on food and then purges it, are the two most common forms of eating disorders.

You can’t control if your child will eat their vegetables,if the baby sleeps during naptime, or your husband comes home on time, but you can micromanage what you eat.

It’s not surprising that stressed out moms focus on food, or lack thereof, as a means of making themselves feel better in thisbody-image obsessed culture we live in.

Parenting reported:

A recent survey of 4,000 women between the ages of 25 and 45 found that 75 percent of them don’t eat or think about food in a normal way.”

There are more than 5 million Americans who have a clinical eating disorder”.

Many mothers who have eating disorders try to hide their illness from their spouses and children. They feel they will be looked at as an unfit mother, or be judged.

Women who have dealt with an eating disorder or psychological illness in the past are more prone to resorting to anorexia or bulimia when they begin to feel overwhelmed.

Parenting reported:

Research has also shown that women who are prone to anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors are more vulnerable — and for those women, anorexia or bulimia can be triggered by the everyday stress and chaos that comes from raising kids, says Dena Cabrera, a clinical psychiatrist who works with the moms’ groups at Remuda Ranch.”

The demands of the 21stcentury mother are exhaustive. We are supposed to take care of the kids, make meals, keep the house clean, attend school meetings, andhold down a job.

As responsibilities grow, so do the stresses of staying on top of things. This has resulted in an increasingly high number of mothers turning to eating disorders.

Parenting reported:

At the Remuda Ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona, for instance, the number of women between 30 and 40 has risen 300 percent in the past seven years, according to Edward J. Cumella, Ph.D., executive director of the eating- and anxiety-disorders clinic. And the centers are responding to this demand by tailoring treatment tracks just for these women, many of whom are moms.”

It is commonly thought from sufferers of these diseases that they can do it all. Mothers want to believe they can put their family first no matter what and that their own issues won’t get in the way of their duties.

Sadly, that is not the case. Eating Disorder Hope reported:

“The truth is that children cannot be properly cared for in the competing presence of an eating disorder.”

It is vital that mothers receive help to recover; for their family and for themselves. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with anorexia or bulimia please contact a counselor or recovery center as soon as possible to get the help you deserve.

National Eating Disorders spoke on one mother’s struggle with an eating disorder:

The shame was overwhelming. How could I be a mother, and have an eating disorder? That was the turning point for me. My children are what made me seek help. If it was not for me, it was for them at the time, which was fine, because in that moment, I didn’t think I deserved treatment. Someone else was surely “sicker”. I did not believe I deserved it, but I knew my children at least deserved their mother. They needed me to be actually there with them; present, alive, healthy and free.”

Our culture advertises and exemplifies an unhealthy view of food and body image. Magazines, television shows, the latest fashions, and billboards show thin, beautiful women.

This media portrayal makes society think that you have tolook a certain way for clothes to look good on you, for men to fall in love with you, and to be a successful person.

Parenting reported:

Holly Grishkat, Ph.D., the site director for outpatient programs at the Renfrew Center, a foundation for researching and treating eating disorders based in Philadelphia, calls it “the Desperate Housewives effect.” “What we’re seeing now on TV shows where many of the actors are in their forties but look like they’re in their twenties is the not-at-all-subtle message that not only can suburban mothers and housewives be thin and beautiful and youthful at any age — they should be,” she says.”

Society’s obsession with dieting fads and exercise routines are a reaction to the body image crisis.

To end the perpetuation of these warped ideologies concerning expectations of the ideal woman’s body, we must stop allowing media to define what beauty and value are.

This effort is not done as an individual, but as a unified family of women supporting one another.

Mothers are strong beautiful women, who put their families first and tirelessly work at making sure their children’s needs are met.

Eating disorders are an illness, one no mother should endure. Mothers deserve to see themselves as superheroes doing their best, and nothing less.

Please let us know in the comments section if you have struggled with an eating disorder, and if you have advice for those going through it now.

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