Eating disorders affecting people in our area

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - World famous singer Taylor Swift recently opened up about her eating disorder in the Miss Americana documentary.

A new documentary on Netflix is using a superstar's personal story to shine a light on eating disorders. Anorexia, bulimia, and other food obsessions are serious illnesses across America, and right here at home. (WJHG/WECP)

But this is not just a Hollywood problem, it's something many locals deal with as well.

Ph.D. Licensed Mental Health Counselor Kenneth A. Finch says he sees many suffering in our community.

Nearly 30 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with an eating disorder, and it's not just women suffering.

"10 million are men," said Registered Dietitian, Kelly Goodson.

Goodson works with local patients who come from different backgrounds and range from children to seniors.

But there's one thing they have in common, their obsession with food isn't just a physical illness, it's a mental disorder as well.

That's why Finch says treatment can be complex.

"It's a multidisciplinary approach to recovery from an eating disorder. You need a therapist, you need a physician on board, we often want a nutritionist on board, and often we need a psychiatrist on board," he said.

While it can be hard to get someone the help they need when dealing with an eating disorder, Finch said the hardest part to overcome is letting that person see in the mirror for themselves, that they do need help.

"They're hiding out," said Finch. "Many times you know the restrictive eating disorder people want to be invisible."

"70 percent of those who suffer with eating disorders, will not seek treatment due to stigma and misconception, lack of education," said Goodman. "But those who do, over 80 percent of those who go through the treatment, and the entire process, end up getting better."

There are signs to look for if you or someone you know is struggling silently.

"Restricting food, odd behaviors with food, excessive counting calories, excessive exercise, over eating could be another symptom," said Finch.

Eating disorders can come in many forms.

"There's binge eating disorder, anorexia, also orthorexia, that's a newer term. So it's obsession over healthy eating," said Goodson.

All of which can negatively impact your health.

"You want to have a balance on your plate," said Goodson.

Health professionals understand it's hard for someone to gather the courage to get help, but once someone can do that, they're on the path to a freeing future.

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