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The unhealthy relationship between New Year’s resolutions and eating disorders

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eating disorders

(WBNG) - The beginning of the New Year often includes resolutions of getting in shape or losing weight, but for those who struggle with eating disorders this time of year can be especially triggering.

According to Carolyn Chaffee, the Director of Upstate New York Eating Disorder Service, over 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder sometime in their lifetime.

"New Year's resolutions are probably the number one thing that catapults eating disorders," said Chaffee

She said many of the people they treat do not look forward to the beginning of a new year.

"One of the first things that most of the patients brought up was how triggering this time of year is just in general because everyone is talking about weight loss, good foods, bad foods, when can I exercise, how much can I exercise."

She said many people want to lose weight in the quickest way possible and often the quickest way is the unhealthiest.

One thing that can make some individuals more prone to an eating disorder is their sensitivity to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain.

Your brain needs food to maintain a healthy level of serotonin.

"So when people start to really restrict their carbohydrate intake they become more depressed, more anxious, more obsessed, and much more body focused. So it truly is a change in brain chemistry for individuals that are susceptible and there are far more individuals susceptible than anyone ever realized."

According to Chaffee, one out of three women struggle with some aspect of disordered eating and she said the words family and friends use can be very important.

"Individuals who struggle with eating disorders interpret just about everything that they possibly can to be negative about their body. So someone could say to an individual 'Oh you look really healthy', but to them, they just heard that they gained weight and they got fat."

"Different ways to compliment individuals would be to say you know 'You really look much stronger'. Stronger does not necessarily mean bigger."

She said if you start to feel obsessive thoughts about eating or exercise to reach out for help.

The National Eating Disorders Association

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders (ANAD)

Kaitlin Pearson

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