NEDAwareness Week: Athletes and Eating Disorders

Posted by on Feb 24, 2015

Athletes are the picture of health. Their dedication and discipline, their strength and endurance, their ability to push their bodies to their maximum potential. It’s quite enviable.

Isn’t it?

Not always. Looks can be deceiving. For that reason, Day 3 of NEDAwareness Week spotlights how athletes in particular are uniquely affected by eating disorders.

There are a number of ways that athletes can fall victim to disordered eating or full-blown eating disorders. Some, such as those who participate in ballet, gymnastics, wrestling, and ice skating, are pressured to maintain a lean body mass, leading some members of these sports to pursue unrealistic weight goals or engage in dangerous weight-loss methods.

Other athletes, meanwhile, fall into disordered eating behaviors innocently. Achieving fitness or losing weight through an active lifestyle may happen naturally at first, but this could “turn on” an eating disorder and/or exercise addiction in those athletes who are biologically predisposed toward the illness. These athletes may take their fitness or weight loss goals past the point of healthy motives.

Still others may be entirely unaware of the havoc being wreaked on their bodies. For instance, some athletes do not realize how many calories they need to consume in order to keep with up with the amount of energy their bodies are burning. Nevertheless, their weight loss — though inadvertent — could cause the same health issues that people with eating disorders also suffer.

Eating disorders and athletesWomen in particular are heightened risk for a condition known as the Female Athlete Triad. This refers to three interrelated health issues: energy deficiency (with or without disordered eating), menstrual irregularity or disruption, and bone loss or osteoporosis. The consequences of any of these conditions can be lifelong and even life-threatening.

So today’s #NEDAwareness efforts are dedicated to athletes and spreading awareness about not only the quality of our sustenance, but how important quantity is when it comes to our daily lives.

Click here to read more about the Female Athlete Triad on Mirror-Mirror.

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