Woman encourages intervention for eating disorders

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Imagine eating only 200 calories a day.

That's what one young Louisville woman did just to be thin, until her mother put her in treatment.

Now, the pair has set out to make sure other people know how to find help.

Whitney Gowen used to starve herself. Pictures from when she was 15 years old showed that she weighed 84 pounds.

"How did I let myself get like that? You know, it was out of my control. There was nothing I could do to change it because I was sick," Gowen said.

Whitney is 23 and healthy today.

Norton Healthcare asked her to be a part of its "dying to be thin" event so the audience could hear her story of survival.

Whitney says she hopes to be an inspiration for those struggling.

"There is help out there and this is not what their life has to be like," Gowen said.

Whitney says she wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for her mom Lori.

Together, they sought help from therapists, nutritionists and psychiatrists.

Nothing worked so they decided Whitney should go to an inpatient treatment center thousands of miles from home.

"It made me really realize it is a true addiction, just like an alcohol addiction or a drug addiction or any other addiction," Lori Gowen said.

Therapists say parents should intervene at the first sign of an eating disorder. They say denial can be deadly.

"Address the issues. If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, a lot of times eating disorders are very secretive. They're not going to say,'yea mom, I have an eating disorder,' so maybe in these types of meetings with the community and professionals, we can help parents figure out ways to address the issues," said therapist Amanda Nichols.

"She asked me as soon as she saw me losing weight, 'What's going on? What can I do?'  I would push it aside and not want to talk about it. She still stepped in, got me the appointments I needed," Whitney Gowen said.

Norton holds another program on eating disorder issues March 13.

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