National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is here. This year’s theme is, “I Had No IDEA”.
Among the things you may have had “NO IDEA” are that:
- Bullying can trigger an eating disorder
- My quest for health was making me sick
- My passion had become a problem
- Eating disorders don’t discriminate
- Eating disorders are often overlooked or misdiagnosed
- Eating disorders aren’t just “a phase”
- The perfect images I see every day are digital illusions
Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders will impact 30 million people at some point in their life regardless of their sex, age, size, or ethnic background in the US alone. Even worse, is that many of these people will suffer silently.
With appearance standards being defined in the media, athletes emphasizing a certain physique, and bullying on the rise it is easy to understand that body image concerns and even diets can begin as early as age 9.
Confusion is rampant from the plethora of information available. Deeming some foods as “good” and others as “bad” is bewildering and leads to mixed message in regards to health. The diet industry who may unintentionally promote eating disorders have seen profits upwards of $60 billion due to the disarray.
Recognizing early signs of eating disorders can help stop progression of these devastating conditions. Warning signs and symptoms could be understated and include:
- Excessive exercise
- Feeling self-conscious when eating in public
- Dramatic weight loss
- Over emphasis on weight related appearance
If you are concerned that someone you care about is suffering from an eating disorder, it is important to remain calm and keep the conversation open. You can check out suggested information on how to help a friend with eating disorders on this page, or these tips may help:
- Have the conversation in a comfortable and safe place
- Use “I” statements, including “I care about you” or “I’m worried about you.”
- Remain unbiased, condescending, and judgmental
Recovery from an eating disorder is definitely possible. With early intervention the risks of a full-scale disorder developing are greatly minimized. With the right support from loved ones and a qualified eating disorder specialist team, many individuals can recover and end the silent pain.
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Special thanks to dietetic student Briana Rodriquez for her contributions to this post.