It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb 20-26)

I signed up to be a community advocate for this cause that is near and dear to my heart. This week I’ll be dedicating all posts to the education and awareness of eating disorders, with a side of self-love.

There are a lot of myths surrounding eating disorders, common ones being:

  • Only teenage girls suffer from eating disorder.
  • Eating disorders are a white, middle-class, female issue.
  • An eating disorder isn’t real, it is just someone trying to get attention.
  • Eating disorders are only a problem with food, if they just eat they’ll be fine.
  • You can always tell someone has an eating disorder by their appearance.

Not true:

  • In the United States as many as 10 MILLION females and 1 MILLION males are suffering from an eating disorder.
  • Eating disorders do not discriminate age, gender or income.
  • Without treatment up to 20% of individuals suffering from an eating disorder will die.
  • 4% of college-age women suffer from an eating disorder.
  • People who diet frequently are at a much higher risk of developing eating disorders than those who do not diet.
  • Americans spend over 40 BILLION dollars on diet-related products per year.

(source, source, source)

Here is the cold hard truth: eating disorders aren’t a ploy for attention, they aren’t a choice, and they can result in death. Someone with an eating disorder has an illness, and it can be treated. But in our society we are taught to not speak about such things because it if you don’t talk about it, it can’t be real, right? Wrong.

Appropriately the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2011 theme is:

It’s Time To Talk About It.

And the goal? For everyone to do just do one thing. I chose to: Maximize the power of your social networking sites. And let’s be honest, I’ll probably buy and donate Healthy Body Image: Teaching Kids to Eat and Love Their Bodies Too! to my middle school.

Let’s define what is an eating disorder:

Anorexia-Nervosa is defined as someone who severely restricts her/his food consumption (typically 800 calories or less per day). This generally results in rapid weight loss and has many detrimental, often life-threatening, side-effects. These include (but are not limited to):

Fatigue and loss of energy, hypertension, dizziness, low blood presser, hair loss, pins and needles feeling, osteoporosis, loss of menstruation, thyroid issues, kidney issues, irritable stomach, and eventually the breaking down of organs leading to death.

Bulimia-Nervosa is defined as consuming food and purging the calories consumed via vomiting, laxatives or extreme exercise.  Side-effects from constant vomiting and laxative abuse include (but are not limited to):

Low potassium, kidney damage, heart irregularities, increase in cavities due to loss of tooth enamel, broken blood vessels in the face, bowel damage, intestinal damage, hair loss, yellow skin, premature wrinkles, cardiac arrest and death.

Binge Eating Disorder is defined as consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time. This disorder is very closely linked to bulimia-nervosa, but there is no purging of the calories afterward.

Other disorders not otherwise defined are the pre-occupation with food, or the creation of rules regarding food intake (only before 7 p.m., no white foods, only foods with less than 5% calories coming from fat, etc.) This is the hardest to spot, but is the most common eating disorder. It is often called disordered eating and side-effects are often more social/emotional than physical.

(source)

Food (the restriction of, massive intake of, and preoccupation of) is a symptom of the eating disorder, not the cause. And the side-effects aren’t just physical. Someone suffering from any eating disorder, or a combination of eating disorders, can experience:

Low self-esteem, fear of losing control, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, loneliness, worthlessness and a tendency to be withdrawn from others.

Often those with an eating disorder will see themselves as bigger than they actually are.

(source)

And there is no one cause that triggers an eating disorder. Causes range from depression, bad relationships, dieting and a fear of being fat, loss of control in other areas of her/his life, etc. Just like there isn’t one cause, there isn’t just one cure. Scroll down to find treatment options.

(source)

Want to learn more?

National Eating Disorder Association Facts & Information

Basic Facts about Eating Disorders, including prevention information, how to talk to your doctor and getting treatment. I’ve wanted to work for NEDA since I started researching my thesis, but they weren’t hiring at a time I could move to Seattle. Maybe one day. For now I’ll just continue to be a community advocate 🙂

Something-Fishy.org

Information and help for those suffering from an eating disorder and for their family and friends.

Think you might have an eating disorder, but you aren’t sure? Answer this questionnaire and bring it to your doctor or therapist.

Angel’s Wings

Eating Disorder Association of Australia.

Mirror-Mirror.org

Eating Disorder Association of Canada.

Radar Program

Well respected treatment facility.

Kids Health

Full of good info for parents.

Eating-Disorder.com Blog

Updated information about eating disorders in the news, treatment and prevention.

If you have an eating disorder or think you may be suffering from disordered thinking get help. There is no reason to silently suffer. Don’t want to say anything because you think it will just cause someone to worry about you? Chances are they are already worried but don’t know how to bring it up.

You know the quote,

“Be the change you want to see in the world,” (Mahatma Gandi).

Well, be your OWN CHANGE!

Need some inspiration? Pop over to Operation Beautiful to get your head in the self-love/self-acceptance game.

Stop the fat talk.

Stop the self-bashing.

Stop saying you want to throw a burger at that super-thin girl whose eating a salad.

Stop pretending nothing is wrong.

Just do one thing

Love yourself. Today. Tomorrow. Forever.

*If not cited otherwise all information in this post (and subsequent posts throughout the week) comes from years of researching eating disorders. My Senior Thesis in college was on how the media effects women, with a focus on eating disorders and the thin ideal. I have a vested interest in the subject matter, and my hope is that you will gleam a little insight regarding eating disorders, perhaps change your view, and maybe find some information on how to help a friend, family member, or yourself.

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One thought on “It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb 20-26)

  1. Pingback: My 7 Links « Spinach and Skittles

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