Love, Peace and Gymnastics
Gymnastics and eating disorders
Gymnastics and eating disorders
Gymnastics can be a strenuous and maintenance-intensive sport even for the strongest children. After all, gymnastics urges its participants to physical perfection – to the flawlessness of the form in the gymnastics routines and sometimes also in their appearance. You should always keep an eye on the progress of your child or children by meeting and communicating with their trainers, talking to their peers and the parents of their peers to keep an eye on their physical and emotional condition. Creating such a network of eyes and ears will certainly relieve your head, that’s for sure, especially if you are unable to attend all of your child’s meetings or exercises.
Emotional and physical stress
Emotional stress can very well arise as a result of judgment or insults by peers and even from inappropriate comments from coaches. You need to watch closely what is happening here, because extreme emotional stress can lead to more serious problems in the future, including bulimia and anorexia, two of the most common – and most dangerous – eating disorders known today. We’ll discuss this later. Be sure to talk to your child about how good they feel. The conversation will usually bring the issues to the public so that you can work to correct them and restore your child’s confidence. Confidence is one of the many keys to health and success in gymnastics.
Physical stress is sometimes easier to identify than emotional stress. If your child has injured themselves during an event or during training, you can usually see the bruises, the abrasions or the swelling. Sometimes the physical exertion of a gymnast can be a little puzzling. If your gymnast is suddenly sick, feels muscle cramps or stiffness, is constantly tired or complains of general muscle soreness, it may be advisable to inform the trainer about his progress. Overexertion can definitely cause problems – sometimes it may even be necessary to reduce the amount of strenuous exercise until conditions improve. In the meantime, you should make sure that you eat properly – that you eat enough and definitely drink enough fluids.
Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that is due to both physical and emotional stress, in most cases as a result of a judgment by peers, coaches, or society itself. In today’s world of sticky-thin models in which to look everything is, it can happen that your gymnast is under deadly pressure and quickly loses body size. Typically, the behavior associated with bulimia is a seizure followed by rinsing. In other words, you can eat thousands of calories of fatty food and then throw it out; you can also use laxatives. This will eat away the enamel, causing the gums to recede (you may need to remove all of your teeth) and the salivary glands to swell. The laxatives eventually lead to rectal bleeding. A person suffering from this condition can go to the toilet for a long time or keep large stores of high-calorie foods indoors.
People with bulimia nervosa are usually easier to get out of their routine than people with anorexian nervosa. They also respond better to therapy. Good communication can help prevent all of this, except in the most severe cases, which usually include dehydration.
Anorexia nervosa is certainly the more serious of the two most common eating disorders that young gymnasts suffer from today. Anorexia is more like bulimia in that anorexia does not allow food to be digested – but it goes one step further and avoids eating completely. Laxatives may also be used, which is extremely dangerous. Anorexia shies away from food-related situations, and eventually malnutrition reaches a point where blood pressure drops, body temperature drops, bone density decreases, hair falls, and the skin becomes gray and flaky. Lanugo, a fluffy body hair, can also develop. Anorexia is fatal in up to ten percent of cases, and if not, hospitalization and psychiatric treatment may be required.
For this reason, of course, you need communication maintain with your gymnast and his trainers. Encourage your child or children. Don’t let emotional stress turn into something much more serious. Let them know that they are already incredible for their participation in gymnastics, that they don’t have to take nasty comments to heart – and that they need to relax occasionally. Have fun with them! This is the best for everyone involved.