At Fairwinds Treatment Center, we know all too well that eating disorders do not discriminate, attacking men and women from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. We recently discussed on this blog how more African-American women are reporting eating disorders, but unfortunately they are not alone. Some research indicates that an alarming number of Latina girls and women are also developing anorexia, bulimia and other disorders. In fact, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), some research has showed that among the 25 percent leanest 6th and 7th grade girls, Hispanic students report even more body image issues than their white peers.
A recent article on the news website Slate details the struggles of Anahi Ortega, a Mexican-American woman who grew up in California. Ortega developed an eating disorder as a young teen, alternately engaging in anorexic and bulimic behaviors. She says that the traditional Mexican meal structure includes just two big meals a day, which made it easy for her to hide her destructive patterns, as she only had to avoid consuming food at two meals rather than three. She often lied and told her parents that she was full from eating at school.
Ortega hid her problem for several years, but when she was 15, she overdosed on diet pills and nearly suffered a stroke. She was diagnosed with an eating disorder and made to attend group therapy.
"The only thing we had in common was the eating disorder," Ortega tells Slate. "I felt so different in a room full of white girls. When we talked about eating disorders, I could relate. When we talked about home, I couldn't."
Ortega continued to struggled with a combination of anorexia and bulimia and also began abusing drugs and alcohol. She tells Slate that when she was a child she suffered trauma at the hands of her alcoholic father, which almost certainly contributed to her self-destructive behavior.
Here at Fairwinds we see firsthand how such abuse can create or worsen psychological, emotional and mental problems, which in turn often triggers issues with addiction and eating disorders. That's why we employ our unique dual diagnosis methodology, utilizing a personalized combination of clinical treatment and therapeutic counseling to promote complete healing and recovery. Treating a chemical dependency or eating disorder without also addressing underlying issues is almost never effective.
Eventually Ortega was able to overcome her self-destructive behaviors and find peace, especially after she realized that other minority women also struggle with these issues. If you are a woman of color who is dealing with an eating disorder, know that you are not alone, and there is no better place to achieve recovery than at Fairwinds Treatment Center under the care of Dr. Pauline Powers. A world-renowned eating disorder expert and former president of NEDA, Dr. Powers has helped countless women heal, inside and out. Call Fairwinds, one of the top eating disorder treatment centers in the nation, to learn more.