Many people will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life, not just here in the UK but all countries across the world. Often, how the media portrays what the ‘ideal body’ should look like is an entirely unrealistic representation but many individuals try to base their looks upon this perception to ‘fit in’.
This can then have a detrimental impact on their overall health and wellbeing, along with negative consequences for the lives of their concerned loved ones. One woman who is increasingly worried about how her daughter will grow up is Marisa Svalstedt, who has suffered from an eating disorder herself since she was a teen; she is concerned that her daughter will pick up on her bad habits.
Thirty-seven-year-old Marisa from Connecticut in the United States has struggled with body image since she was just a teenager. The self-loathing she experienced soon turned into a vicious eating disorder that took over her life. About five years ago, Marisa had restricted her food intake so much that her weight plummeted to just 105lbs, making her seriously underweight. She now has a daughter and fears that her issues with body and food will have a negative impact on her daughter.
‘Not a Pattern I Would Like Her to Have’
Marisa said that she did not even consider the possible implications of her negative comments on her daughter until her husband Brian made her aware of this. She told the Daily Mail Online, “Because I’ve been in this place so long, I make comments like ‘I can’t eat that, it’s fattening’. My husband used to ignore it. Sometimes he would say, ‘You’re crazy, you need to eat more’. But when we had our daughter, and she started talking, he said, ‘You can’t say that, she understands now’.”
Marisa went on to say that it was much ‘easier to ignore’ the negative relationship with her body before she gave birth and when she ‘didn’t have a small child looking up to me’. She then said that since she became a mother, it has been ‘hard to come to terms with’, also saying, “I hadn’t thought about it but then I realised she responds to me and started understanding what her mother’s talking about. If I say ‘I don’t want to eat’, I’m worried she might say ‘I’m not going to eat’, and that’s not a pattern I would like her to have.”
More Mindful and Careful
After coming to terms with the true impact of her negative comments, Marisa has made many attempts to alter her eating habits and stop openly expressing the hatred for her body, but she has admitted that it can be quite difficult sometimes. “I just make sure I eat regular meals, I exercise, I eat with my daughter and try not to focus so much… The feeling doesn’t really go away; I look in the mirror and don’t feel quite right. I’ve had to be more mindful and be careful what I say because often she is in earshot and can hear what I’m saying.”
Marissa explained that she still faces daily struggles, and said, “Though I no longer starve myself like I did in those days, I have yet to shake the terrible habit of over-analysing every piece of food I consume. And the sad truth of it is, I feel ashamed. My daughter gets her eyes from her dad, hair colour from her grandfather; I don’t want to ever say she gets her eating disorder from her mom.”
Marisa was badly bullied and taunted at school and says she worries that her daughter might face the same fate; she is concerned about how she would deal with it should it happen. “That part still scares me. I’ve spoken to my husband about it too. When I was in middle school, kids could be very mean and unkind about how you look. When you have people calling you ‘chunky’ or a ‘whale’, that really sticks with you… I still don’t know how, if that happens to my daughter, how I’ll deal with it because my parents used to say shake it off, but it still sticks with you.”
She hopes that her daughter will ‘get through it unscathed’ and has already made plans to keep a watchful eye on her. She added, “Already I see she pays attention; she sees I put on make-up and want to put on make-up. I hope I never hear the words from her breath ‘I need to lose weight’ because it’s kind of an image that’s difficult to purge from the brain.”
Support when Overcoming an Eating Disorder
Many who suffer from an eating disorder will not want to recover as they can often worry about how their body shape will begin to change if they start eating again. It can be challenging for loved ones to deal with, and often they do not know what to do.
Here at Liberty House Clinic, our friendly and welcoming staff will do everything in their power to help you or your loved one overcome an eating disorder. We have a range of treatments available, which would be tailored to suit the specific needs of the affected individual. If you have any further queries or require any more information, do not hesitate to contact us today.
Source: ‘I’m worried she might say “I’m not going to eat”‘: Mother with eating disorder for years says she fears passing the illness on to her two-year-old daughter (Daily Mail)