How Bodybuilding Can Help You Fight An Eating Disorder!

People from just about any walk of life could suffer from an eating disorder or disordered eating. And, many people with eating disorders become very adept at hiding the signs and symptoms... Learn more.

People from just about any walk of life could suffer from an eating disorder or disordered eating. And, many people with eating disorders become very adept at hiding the signs and symptoms that their friends and family may be very unaware that anything is going on or they may know but be unaware of the magnitude of their loved one's struggle.

Many People With Eating Disorders Become Very Adept At Hiding The Signs And Symptoms
Many People With Eating Disorders Become Very Adept At Hiding The Signs And Symptoms.

What Is An Eating Disorder?

There are three types of eating disorders that are defined according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:

Anorexia nervosa is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by semi-starvation and extreme weight loss. Symptoms include:

  • Unable or unwilling to maintain a normal weight (below 85% of their normal weight).
  • Intense fear of becoming fat, even if underweight.
  • Absence of at least 3 periods in a row (menstrual cycle).
  • Extreme emphasis placed on body weight or shape despite low body weight; denial of low body weight.

Bulimia nervosa is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and purging. Symptoms include:

  • Frequent consumption of large amounts of food followed by purging (through extreme exercise, self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse).
  • A feeling of loss of control over eating behavior.
  • Extreme concern with body weight and shape.

Binge eating disorder is a "not otherwise specified" eating disorder characterized by recurrent binge eating without purging.

So what causes an eating disorder? Though eating disorders seem completely food and body image related, they are actually complex mental disorders resulting from a combination of behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors.

Scientists believe that eating disorders develop when people use food as a way to express their emotions and gain some control over their life (at least they can control what they put in their mouth and their body to an extent).

Bodybuilding Can Help You Beat An Eating Disorder

Strict dieting may spark an eating disorder in some people, setting them up to binge or over-restrict their food intake. However, bodybuilding can help you on your road to recovery or help prevent the initiation of a full-blown eating disorder. Here's how:

  • Bodybuilding Boosts Your Self-Esteem: Though there are several contributing factors that cause an eating disorder, lack of self-esteem and a preoccupation with one's body are both common themes. Bodybuilding can help bolster your self-esteem.
  • Regardless of your shape, weight or size, resistance exercise will help you build strength and help you build a sense of pride. Pride that you are accomplishing something, moving your body and progressing to greater physical challenges. And, being around other serious bodybuilders will help you overcome the image the perception that being skinny is ideal.
Resistance Exercise Will Help You Build Strength And Help You Build A Sense Of Pride
Resistance Exercise Will Help You Build Strength And Help You Build A Sense Of Pride.
  • Bodybuilders Build Better Eating Habits: Once you start lifting weights or engaging in another form of resistance training, you will quickly realize that you can't progress unless you eat well.
  • And, that means frequent meals, no purging and fueling yourself so you have the energy to work harder then you did the day before. The healthy bodybuilding diet will naturally help your body find the right weight for you and do so in a healthy manner.
  • Bodybuilding Helps Boost Your Mental State: People who are predisposed to depression or other psychological issues may have a greater propensity toward developing an eating disorder. Bodybuilding will help you feel better about yourself. And, working out boosts your feel good hormones called endorphins.

Endorphins: Endorphins are endogenous opioid polypeptide compounds. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during strenuous exercise, excitement, pain and orgasm, and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a sense of well-being. Endorphins work as "natural pain relievers", whose effects may be enhanced by other medications.

Additional Tips To Help You Beat An Eating Disorder

If you think you have an eating disorder or just disordered eating patterns, call your physician and ask for a referral to a specialist. Or, look into your workplace assistance program for a mental health counselor who works with eating disorders. In addition, consider the following:

  • Build your body image.
  • Read books, listen to audio books.
  • Step away from the scale. If the number on the scale makes or breaks your day, toss it and learn to listen to your body.
  • Be wary of magazine models. Photoshop can do wonders.
  • Focus on the positive in your life and everything you have accomplished. By doing this you will take some of the focus off of your body.
  • Put yourself first. Instead of always doing things for other people, put your needs first and do something nice for the number one person in your life: you.
  • Learn to appreciate everything your body can do for you.
Learn To Appreciate Everything Your Body Can Do For You
Learn To Appreciate Everything Your Body Can Do For You.


Eating disorders are serious and potentially life threatening. If you struggle with food and your weight or body image, talk to a professional.

Start laying the foundation to lead a life where food is just food, not something that can be used to help you express yourself or gain control in your life. And, be sure to keep exercising.

Not exercising in an effort to purge but instead exercising to feel good about your body and boost your mood. Bodybuilding is a very healthy hobby that can help you appreciate every thing your body can do.