Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Eating Disorders

Do you know the warning signs that a loved one may have an eating disorder? (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

When most people think of eating disorders, it is very likely that the image that pops into their mind features a young, emaciated girl.  But this is only part of the real story of eating disorders and something that the National Eating Disorders Association is working to change with its annual awareness campaign.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week runs from February 23rd to March 1st this year which provides the perfect opportunity for everyone to increase their understanding of these debilitating and even deadly disorders.  There are millions of people in this country suffering from eating disorders but many go undiagnosed and untreated.  In part, this happens because of the shame and guilt many people struggling with these conditions feel because of their disorder.  It also happens because not everyone with an eating disorder looks like that girl many of you pictured.  People with eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes which is why it is so important to spread awareness to everyone, not just amongst those who have been diagnosed.

Here are some of the things you can do to help spread awareness about eating disorders this month.

1.     Educate Yourself or Someone Else

Many people have a very limited understanding of the two most well-known eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and little to no knowledge about the other common eating disorders.  This means that we may not see the signs of struggle in someone we love or even in ourselves.  Understanding the basics of the four primary eating disorders is a great start.

  • Anorexia Nervosa – When a person participates in self-starvation, depriving the body of calories in order to become thinner.
  • Bulimia Nervosa – When a person goes through cycles of binge eating followed by activities like purging or excessive exercising to “make up for” for the binge.
  • Binge Eating Disorder – When a person participates in regular episodes of binge eating that is not accompanied by other behaviors intended to compensate for or get rid of the extra calories.
  • Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) – Some people who struggle with disordered eating exhibit a range of symptoms that prevent them with being diagnosed with each of the three primary disorders above.

2.     Host an Event

The National Eating Disorder Awareness website has a ton of information you can use to host a fun, informative, or educational activity or event as part of the awareness week event.   One great way to get the message out is to host a screening of “Someday Melissa”, a documentary about eating disorders.   For assistance in planning your event, download NEDA’s Event Planning Guide.

3.     Share Your Story

Whether you post some thoughts on your favorite social media site or stand up in front of a crowded room, sharing your own eating disorder story is one of the most powerful things you can do to raise awareness and make a difference in other people’s lives.

4.     Post About the Problem

Take to social media to help spread the word about eating disorders.

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