This week (February 21-27, 2016) is National Eating Disorder Awareness week. The NEDA organization is taking steps to spread awareness & is encouraging people to take 3 minutes out of their day to take a simple, confidential screening quiz.
The point of this screening is for people (& their loved ones) to begin recognizing potential eating disorders b/c there is incredible treatment available to those who need it!
I want to make the point that eating disorders & disordered eating in general can be much broader than how we typically think of it. When we hear eating disorder, we think anorexia or bulimia; however, binge eating can be a very serious issue as well.
We tend to approach weight & eating issues with diets, exercise, & extreme lifestyle changes; however, working with a professional on the mental health aspect of eating disorders is far more healthy, productive, & long-lasting.
Amy Gillespie, LCSW, graduate of the Simmons School of Social Work, emphasizes the importance of recognizing underlying issues & taking steps to resolve them,
Eating disorders become a way of managing and controlling a part of someone’s life that feels out of control. While people don’t have control over many aspects in their life, controlling what goes in and out of our bodies is a way of coping with the sense of that loss of control. It’s unhealthy coping but coping nonetheless. It’s usually not a conscious choice to use food as a way of control, which is why getting help and going to therapy is crucial in treating and overcoming problems with eating. Every individual’s experience is different but the eating behaviors are serving a purpose for an individual when they don’t know another way to manage something. It’s important to understand what the behaviors are doing and replace them with more positive and healthy thoughts and behaviors.
Concerning eating behaviors are very prevalent in our culture whether it is fast food or fad diets, Netflix binges or marathon races, giant portions or calorie counting. If we are honest with ourselves, it becomes apparent that we do not have a healthy mindset when it comes to food & body image; and I know this from personal experience.
The good news is that it is possible to make lasting changes with the help of professionals. No, not personal trainers. No, not self-help gurus. I am talking about licensed counselors who understand the importance of diving deeper & helping you live a better life.
#NEDAwareness Week is all about taking those steps & acknowledging that this is a significant issue impacting many of us. You can get involved in #NEDAwareness week in the following ways…
- Use these shareable graphics to promote the online screening
- Use the #NEDAwareness hashtag in all of your posts to join the conversation!
- Twitter Chat, 2/23 – Getting Healthy: The Many Faces of Eating Disorders Recovery
- Day of Action, 2/24 – Educate elected leaders from across the country about eating disorders & support critical legislation