Eating Disorders

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    I have at least 3 friends, who after graduating high school have been diagnosed with severe eating disorders (amongst other things). In high school, one of my classmates confided in me that she hadnt eaten for three days. I used to have her eat something during break after that. One day she passed out during class. I approached my teacher and told her i was worried about this classmate, giving her details of her eating habits. The teacher responded by saying “You’re doing the wrong thing. You need to ignore her because all she wants is attention.”

    Thankfully, she found a mentor after high school, and was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. She is getting treatment now- treatment she would have gotten years earlier had a teacher payed a little bit of attention…

    What is our community doing to help people with eating disorders and other mental illness??


    What is our community doing to help people with eating disorders and other mental illness??

    Do you have any suggestions?


    I think whats missing is an awareness. People don’t know what to look out for. If teachers and educators would be taught to look out for the warning signs of eating disorders, they might be able to intervene and refer the “victim” to a therapist who would be able to help them. If parents would be aware of this as well, they might be able to use preventative measures to ensure that they aren’t pushing their kids in the direction of an eating disorder.

    Once there is an awareness of these eating disorders, and preventative measures are put it in place, there needs to be a place where people can go for help, once they are diagnosed. So far, most of the therapists who deal with victims of eating disorders aren’t Jewish/frum. Likewise the inpatient units created to help people with eating disorders are not kosher. These places/therapist help people get their lives back on track. They also teach them healthy eating habits, and they help their clients deal with the issues that pushed them towards eating disorders.

    There is a method called Dialectal Behavioral Therapy, where people are taught the basics of living. DBT has proven very helpful in helping people with eating disorders, PTSD, and BPD.

    At this point, its hard to send a young high school girl for dbt, because this would require them dealing intensely with and learning from a non religious/non jewish therapist. If there were frum dbt therapists, maybe more young girls would be able to get help in an appropriate environment, as soon as they are diagnosed…

    Lastly, the stigma attached to any mental health disorder is so strong. If the community would be educated on mental health, its parameters and effects, maybe it wouldn’t be shoved under the rug. Maybe people would be able to accept people with eating disorders as people who have a medical issue. And then maybe these people would be able to accept themselves…

    Reading this post again, i realize that whats most important in helping these people is AWARENESS to prevent stigma, so people with eating disorders are recognized and helped…


    How ironic, this thread appears just after the “shidduchim and size zero” thread.

    Want to know the primary cause of eating disorders? Its called “what will the neighbors say”!

    We need to stop judging people by appearances!

    mt mehdi

    Missing from this discussion is an eating disorder of eating too much. More people are affected by obesity than any other disease. Unfortunately, our Heimshe Oilum is not immune from this illness either.

    pascha bchochma

    BP Totty- I agree!

    (and enjoy your comments in general)


    I would agree that what we need is more awareness and understanding of the disease (and eating disorders are indeed DISEASES and should be treated as such). That story about the teacher accusing the girl of “looking for attention”- that can only stem from ignorance. The teacher is not a bad person, she simply does not understand that anorexia is not just “acting out” and it’s not going to stop or go away because of tough love, reward/punishment or any other general educational tool; it is a disease and needs to be dealt with by experienced professionals (another important point brought up is the need for more frum experts in this area). No parent or teacher should try to take care of it alone.

    The other big misconception is that there is some ’cause’ behind it that we can address. While there are FACTORS that can push someone over the edge (such as the need to be a certain size for shidduch purposes), there is no one cause. Every girl is pressured to be skinny, but very few actually develop eating disorders (I know it doesn’t seem that way, but the numbers really are pretty low). Just like eating disorders won’t go away with coaxing and cajoling, they won’t go away even if we did stop focusing on appearances.

    May HKBH send a refuah shelaima to to all those suffering from this terrible disease!


    I’m sorry to say it, but it’s not AWARENESS that lacking, it’s DENIAL that we live in. It’s unfortunate but yes the AWARENESS is out there, yes especially in our frum community – all we need to do is ACCEPT the reality and continue to cover this up and blame whatever it is that is around us!

    It’s quiet unfortunate what has happened to this girl in high school which her teacher just brushed it off! We have to stop brushing off things, these things may seem to some as a small minor issue that a person can grow out of, but no we start accepting that things need to be checked out and not be taken lightly. They can be traeated when it’s early enough but if left without being treated it can become a huge problem. What this girl did was 100% right, giving it over to who she thought would be proper help only for the benifit of her friend that is so badly suffering. A true friend will encourage her friend to get it checked out, once properly diagnosed will push her to get into therapy and treatment while it’s early. And once shes in therapy, a good friend will encourage her friend to continue her treatment by giving her chizuk, these little words of encouragement can make a world of a difference to someone finishing an intense day of sessions!

    As for the comment before there are very few frum therapist/facilities in our community, maybe there is not enough but there are definitely quiet a number out there. There are actually at least two leading Rabbanim that are trained specifically to treat eating disorders. There are some very frum therapists out there who specialize in all sort of things. If one is looking to get help the resources and help is available but one really needs to know and want to help themselves.


    The primary cause of ED in MANY GIRLS might be body image. But for many others (and 10% of people with anorexia are men) the primary cause is a feeling of not having control over anything in one’s life.

    Anorexia is a CONTROL issue. The person feels like the only thing in life he/she can control is the food they put in their mouth.

    I think one should refrain from commenting on serious, life threating issues that you have no first-hand experience with.

    I do.



    There’s an organization in brooklyn that’s set up to help eating disorders specifically.

    I don’t remember the name but they help so many people every day. They constantly have new people calling them/showing up at their door in desperation.


    i had a best friend in 5th grade who was bluemic, i was so scared to say anything, only cuz i was afraid it wud be a ‘breach’ on our loyalty.

    i think B”H in 8th grade her mom found out and she got help. i switched school in 6th and lost track.

    don’t get me wrong, i never forgot about it, i always wanted to write letters to her mother, or tell the nurse in camp but i never got the guts to do it.

    that was the biggest mistake, looking back, that i ever made.

    d a

    I work for a school. There was a boy who was over weight and one day he stopped eating. He started losing a lot of weight, using the bathroom very infrequently, and his skin started turning pale. Boruch Hashem, we have a loving, caring staff who realized something was wrong and did something about it. We worked with the student, his therapist, counslers, doctors, parents ect. and got him out of his disorder. Now, this boy is in good shape, eats healthy and is doing well in school!


    In previous blogs, I called on the frum schools to have in house therapists/ psychologists. This would be another very good reason to have them. There have been many news stories of deaths due to eating disorders. Let’s do what we can to prevent tragedies due to these diseases.


    Many times it’s also overeating disorders. I am actually close to someone who used to have an overeating disorder. She was constantly being told off about her weight and she one day decided to diet. She started dieting to the extent that we all thought she was anorexic. We referred her to a special doctor who recommended a certain food plan for people with disorders. B”H she is now loosing weight in a healthy way. That’s all the girls need. They don’t need to be starving themselves “for shidduchim”. Some girls are lucky and can eat whatever they want but girls who do need to watch shouldn’t be starving themselves.

    I know another girl who I just came to realize on my own that she probably has anorexia. Someone pointed out to me that the girl will go a day without eating lunch or snacks. Maybe she’ll eat a tiny breakfast and some supper but for the rest of the day eats nothing. Once in a while she’ll eat a bag of junk because of a lack of energy. I doubt she herself even realizes that she’s so skinny that you’d think by looking at her she’ll crumble. I don’t think her parents know about this either.

    pascha bchochma

    mischeif maker- be VERY careful before assuming someone is anorexic. An anorexic person has problems with body image and will not eat junk even if they are hungry. Most anorexic girls will refuse to eat at all in front of other people. That girl is not anorexic, it could be she has some digestive problem or forgets to eat but anorexia has to do with body image, not just not eating.

    If she eats junk when she’s hungry, she is definitely NOT anorexic. She is just on the opposite extreme of those who always feel hungry, she probably doesn’t naturally feel hungry. (I’m like this too, sometimes I don’t realize I need to eat until I start to feel weak.)


    the 3 A’s…. awareness,action, ability to change it!

    3 As

    As with every issue: Awareness, Acceptance, & Action ~RYML

    jewish girl

    why cant people realize tht a major reason grls have eating disorders is becouse no one would pay attention to them becouse they might be 3 sizes bigger then them instead of focosing too much on how to treat it get to the cause of it


    Jewish Girl- although that might be the case for some people with eating disorders, it isnt true across the board. In many cases, individuals with an ed have developed it as a coping mechanism to deal with stressers in their life. Other times, its an issue of control- no one can tell me what to eat or what size to be. Generally, when it is a body image issue, the base of it is not lack of attention. It can be low self esteem- i am such a pig for eating like this, bad influences- freinds or caregivers who themselves have issues and teach young children that its not ok to like themselves if they are not size 2. Alot of these causes can not be solved by giving young girls more attention…


    JG- You are correct in saying that you have to get to the cause of it, but you only list one cause -I’m sure there are many. The best persons to get to the root of this problem are mental health professionals. Go to ones that specialize in eating disorders.


    I believe that SOME people suffer from an eating disorder that is a disease. But I think a large number of girls who apepar to

    have the disorder, don’t have the disease of anorexia, but the emotional need to be a size zero, beause that’s what shidduchim

    and our society presently demand of them. That is a cause and effect that can be remedied by our society looking at healthy weights for girls, and teaching them from a very young age to respect and protect their bodies.

    Rabbonim should give a mussar shmuz to their bochurim and tell them it is OSSUR to look for a girl who is so thin that if she stood sideways she could pass through a closed doorframe. Tell the shadchanim NOT to redt shidduchim with girls who are deliberately making themselves be at such an unhealthy weight. Stress healthy eating habits from day one. Watch out for mothers of boys and girls who are themselves stick thin, lest they impart unhealthy expectations of what a normal healthy person should look like and weigh, to their children. Many mothers of this type bully their daughters into dieting when the girls are perfectly normal looking.

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