Eating plays a very important role in our lives. Not only is eating necessary to survival, but it is also a recreational activity, associated with most holidays, bringing joy to many people. However, for nearly 10 million people in the U.S. alone, eating is an enemy.(Bell, 65) These 10 million people suffer from some sort eating disorder, most commonly Anorexia nervosa or Bulimia nervosa. .
The first and most common eating disorder, affecting nearly seven million women and one million men each year, is Anorexia nervosa .(Kolodny, 40) Anorexia means the loss of apatite, however, this is often misleading because anorexics do not loose their apatite, they merely learn to suppress it. A more appropriate definition of anorexia is; a mental illness in which a person has an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of their weight and body shape (Encarta 1). Anorexia generally affects the same type of person, regardless of sex. The typical anorexic tends to be controlling, a great overachiever, and a perfectionist, who strives to please other people.
Anorexia normally begins with a diet. A person will begin not only to lose weight but to receive complements on how good they look. An anorexic will take these complements as cues to continue their dieting. They believe that the more weight they loose the better they will look. At this point an anorexic will begin to invent many different ways to loose weight. The person will start to become obsessed with food. They will constantly cook wonderful meals and deserts for friends but never eat what they cook. When placed in a setting, such as a family mealtime, where they are expected to eat they will often cut their food into small pieces and move it around their plate to make it look as if they have eaten, or they will hide food in their napkin. They will also commonly tell people that they do not know as well that they cannot eat sugar, because they are diabetic or they cannot drink milk, because they are lactose intolerant.