St a rvalion
A recovering anorexic is
saved by many heroes.
Special to the Jewish News
ven as a little girl, I felt I was
chubby and my sister, Melissa,
was-the thin one in the fami-
ly," recalls 22-year-old Erin
Kaplan of Farmington Hills.
"I was probably in the fourth grade
when I went on my first diet; that would
make me 9 or 10. By the time I was in
my late teens, I was exercising compul-
sively, clipped every magazine article
about dieting I could find and took a lot
of diet pills."
Erin is a recovering anorexic.
People who intentionally starve them-
selves into an emaciated state yet remain
convinced they are overwieght, suffer
from anorexia nervosa. It is a severe
emotional disorder that is increasingly
common, especially among young
women in Western culture where women
are encouraged to be thin.
Two years ago, Erin.was taken to a
local hospital, fed intravenously and
given counseling about her eating dis-
"My parents were very concerned
about my health and thought this might
help me," says Erin. "I hated the experi-
ence, even though I was in the hospital
less than a week. I was 20 years old, away
from home, not in control of my situa-
tion and felt I was getting fatter each day.
The first stay at the hospital didn't work,
and when I was registered for a second
time, I signed myself out after a week."
Erin is petite: 5 feet tall and small-
boned. Her weight was as low as 65
"I didn't feel well at that point," she
Her internal systems started to shut
down. Her heart rate was low, her liver
count was high and she showed bone
loss. Her once shiny, thick brunette hair
was limp, dull and thinning.
"I am trained as an aesthetician and I
know the importance of good nutrition
for healthy skin," says Erin. 'As a result
of my not eating, I looked pasty and
sick, with dark circles under my eyes.
My body was breaking down the colla-
gen and if I kept starving myself, my
skin would rapidly start to sag — wrin-
Erin's sister, Melissa, located a long-
term clinic for eating disorders at the
University of Pittsburgh. Erin stayed
there for six weeks.
'After a month of treatment, I started
to feel good. I was eating and receiving
counseling," says Erin. "That's when I
realized I had a severe problem."
When Erin began losing weight, her
parents had no idea that anything was
wrong. People who become anorexic
often were good children, eager to
please, conscientious and hard working.
Typically, they are people pleasers who
seek approval and avoid conflict. They
take care of other people and strive for
perfection, but underneath, they feel
defective and inadequate.
When her parents saw Erin after she
had spent a few months in Arizona
studying to be an aesthetician, they
became very concerned and brought
"Our daughter was not only emaciat-
ed, but her personality had changed."
STARVATION DIET on page 97
Erin Kaplan is recovering from anorexia nervosa.
erx makes a ritual
such as cutting it
fi ng outjciods that
ally compares himself with others.
• Women stop menstruating.
• Hair gets thinner.
• An anorexic will wear layers of
clothing to hide her body.
• Anorexics are unable to concen-
trate; they aren't nourishing the brain.
• Anorexics are often afraid of
going to a restaurant because they
need to know all the ingredients of
what they eat.
• Anorexics have an extreme fear
of food: They fear eating and gain-