Do you know someone who struggles with food? Since millions of us are battling eating disorders, odds are that you do, even if you don’t realize it. Helping raise awareness about eating disorders is the goal of Eating Disorder Awareness Week which begins on February 24th this year. Organized by the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), Eating Disorder Awareness Week offers a chance for everyone to educate themselves about eating disorders and then do just one thing to spread the word and increase awareness about these life threatening disorders that too often go untreated.
Regardless of who you are and whether or not an eating disorder or disordered eating has touched your life, there are things you can do to help spread awareness and precipitate change.
The first is to know the facts. Clinically significant eating disorders will affect 20 million American women and 10 million American men at some point in their lifetime. These disorders are real and take real, long-term help to overcome. They can have significant, serious, life-long and even life threatening consequences. They impact every area of a person’s life and can be debilitating both physically and mentally.
The second is to know the most common disorders and the signs that someone is struggling with them.
- Anorexia Nervosa – When a person participates in self-starvation, depriving the body of calories in order to become thinner. People who struggle with Aorexia Nervosa lose excessive amounts of weight, are preoccupied with food and obsessive about calories, fat, and dieting. For more information about Anorexia Nervosa, click here.
- Bulimia Nervosa – When a person goes through cycles of binge eating followed by activities like purging or excessive exercising to “make up for” the binge. When someone is struggling with bulimia nervosa there may be external clues that indicate the presence of bingeing and purging behavior like large amounts of missing food, empty food wrappers, or packaging from laxatives or diuretics. For more information about Bulimia Nervosa, click here.
- 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. When someone is struggling with binge eating disorder, they will consume large amounts of food within a short time frame and may avoid eating with others to hide this behavior. For more information about Binge Eating Disorder, click here.
- 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. In these cases, a diagnosis of EDNOS enables those people to get the help and support they need even though they don’t fit the criteria for a specific eating disorder. For more information on EDNOS, click here.
The third thing you can do to help spread the word and raise awareness about eating disorders is to do “just one thing” during this year’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week. For more information about eating disorders and for ideas on how you can get involved, visit the National Eating Disorder Association.
- What Causes Eating Disorders? (doorwaysarizona.com)
- Eating Disorders: The Monster Isn’t Under the Bed. It’s In the Fridge (doorwaysarizona.com)