I used to think if I could control food and eating, then I would lose weight and become beautiful and loved. I convinced myself that if I could be in complete control of my body I would be free from my inadequacy. I now know that I am worth more than my eating disorder, and I am loved in spite of my inadequacies.
A lot of people don’t realize how serious eating disorders are. It is important to educate yourself, recognize the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that shape an eating disorder. That is why I am here to tell you about Eating Disorder Awareness week!
February 21st until March 1st is Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Eating Disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect both a person’s emotional and physical health. In the United States alone, 30 million people will be impacted by an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime.
What is an Eating Disorder*?
- Restricting food intake to below the requirements for a particular individual’s physical requirements
- Intense fear of weight gain and obsession with weight and continual behaviors to prevent weight gain
- Inability to recognize true body shape or recognize the seriousness of condition
- Eating an unusually large amount of food at one time followed by compensatory behaviors (such as vomiting, taking laxatives and/or excessive exercise) to prevent weight gain
- A feeling of being out of control during the binge-eating occurrence
- Self-judgment largely based on weight and shape
Binge Eating Disorder:
- Recurrent situations of eating an unusually large amount of food at one time
- A feeling of being out of control during the behavior
- May have feelings of shame or guilt towards eating which can lead to eating alone
- May eat until the individual is beyond full to the point of discomfort
*There are several other types of eating disorders. If you or your loved one is experiencing significant discomfort surrounding food that interrupts basic functions but does not meet the above criteria, you should still seek professional help.
A popular misconception about eating disorders is that if someone has one, it will be obvious by their low weight and starvation habits. However, those suffering from eating disorders can be of any weight and are often adept at hiding their illness.
How can I help?
- It is important to remain supportive, non-judgmental and let them know that they are not alone.
- Learn the difference between facts and myths about weight, nutrition and exercise
- Listen openly and reflectively; be patient and non-judgmental
- Talk with the person in a kind way, when you are not angry, frustrated or upset
- Explain the reasons for your concerns, without mentioning specific eating behavior
- Ask if he/she is willing to explore these concerns with a healthcare professional who understands eating disorders.
- Love the person well.
- Remind the person that he/she is worth loving.
The goal this week is to show those who struggle that they are not alone and ultimately increases outreach and awareness of eating disorders and body image issues, while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment resources.
Let’s raise awareness together!!
If you are struggling with an eating disorder please contact the National Eating Disorder Help line Here. http://nedawareness.org/helpline
We love you.