Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center
International Eating Disorder Referral Organization
Eating Disorder Triggered By Acne
As a teenager, when Jennifer Douthit looked in the mirror all she could see was her face covered in acne breakouts. Beyond the red bumps and imperfections, she couldn’t see the energetic, track star who consistently made honor roll. To fight back, she educated herself about what kinds of food irritated her acne and caused flare-ups. A thin girl who seemed to be able to eat whatever she wanted and not gain weight, was now obsessed with what she ate to avoid a break-out. “I felt like I was unacceptable to others because I didn’t have perfect skin,” she said. “I felt like I turned people off – it was the interpretation of myself.”
Food Became the Focus to Fix her Face
For Jennifer, her diet became a major factor in dealing with her acne. She restricted her diet based on what foods she thought could cause and prevent outbreaks. As she entered puberty, Jennifer’s condition worsened and her efforts to gain some control over the situation intensified. She embarked on a string of fad diets and regiments – some of them extreme. “I was pretty easily influenced,” she said. “I tried all-protein diets, raw food diets. I was just very uncomfortable in my own body and was trying to control the changes that were happening.” In fact, diet is only a minor factor in treating acne, according to Mandometer Medical Director Louis Maletz, M.D. “In truth, anybody can become anorexic,” he said. “You just need an anxiety that relates to diet.”
Maletz, a Poway physician, said that the acne medication Jennifer was taking also suppressed her appetite – a common side affect – furthering her eating disorder. In her freshmen year of college a routine physical revealed that she was anorexic, and her doctor recommended she take some nutritional supplements to increase her body mass. She continued to restrict her diet while escalating her physical activity as she trained on the school’s track team. The result was the opposite of optimum, as she became a female athlete suffering from a loss of muscle and brittle bones. One morning in March 2003, her racing heart startled her out of a sound sleep. Her parents rushed her to the hospital where it was determined she was near cardiac arrest. “If I hadn’t gone to the hospital, I would likely have died,” she said.
After several attempts with treatment that was not helpful, she finally found the right treatment for her problems and was able to learn how to overcome her eating disorder without fear of another episode of acne. Her treatment still restricts her physical activity, but she looks forward to running again. “That’s when I know I’m over this – when I can say I’m back to running again,” she said. Jennifer plans to start attending school to finish her degree and possibly go on to become a nurse or even a dermatologist.
Article thanks to the US Mandometer® Clinic for Eating Disorders, a subsidiary of Swedish company AB Mando, offers treatment for anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author and are presented without editing. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of EDReferral.com, and no official endorsement by EDReferral.com of the opinions expressed herein should be inferred.
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