Last week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness), a week dedicated to improving public understanding of the seriousness of eating disorders. Let’s keep the conversation on awareness going beyond this week!
Many people have eating disorders that are overlooked or undiagnosed, even by some medical professionals. Early detection is so important and increases chances of a full recovery! Unfortunately, only about 10% of people with an eating disorder will seek and participate in treatment. This is why the 2016 theme for NEDAwareness Week is: 3 minutes can save a life. That’s how long it takes to complete a free online screening tool on the NEDA website, here. Please reach out if you are concerned about a friend, loved one, or for yourself.
There’s by no means one single thing that causes an eating disorder, but there are many many different contributors. One example that does not help is the overabundance of so-called (so-edited!) perfection on social media and online.
Come back later this week for a post about what normal eating means and looks like for me. I do my best to post beautiful images of colorful & interesting food online with tips on how to find balance, but that does not mean that’s what all of my meals look like! Without posting to instagram 6+ times in a day, I want to share what a whole day looks like for me. I think you’ll see that not every meal or photo is exciting and instagram-ready. 😉
Eating disorders also need to be a bigger part of the conversation in sports and fitness, as athletes are at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder. Many of the desirable (read: praised and encouraged) traits to be an elite athlete have some cross over into eating disorder traits, like willingness to please, perfectionism, and extreme drive. Pressure from coaches, team members, and role models add to self imposed pressure to do everything possible to perform the best. Dangerous or unhealthy habits can be disguised as performance enhancing, and may lead to problems over time.
In the quest for health, and with the influence of diet culture (a billion dollar industry), dramatic results are seen as a key marker of success. Unfortunately, dramatic lifestyle changes will sometimes progress into disordered eating patterns and an unhealthy relationship with food: restriction, binge eating, negative associations with delicious foods, and overwhelmingly, guilt. Diets are advertised as a quick fix but actually contribute to more problems than they solve; diets don’t work! Same with any “lifestyle change” that is really just a diet in disguise.
There is no quick fix. What’s actually helpful is building life long skills and an approach to wellness that makes you feel good and that you are able to maintain.
Getting this conversation started is just the first step. We can all do our small part to keep this conversation about eating disorder prevention, early treatment, and ongoing support going, and medical professionals are a great place to start. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, if you need help with this. I am passionate about helping people break free of their guilt around nutrition and restoring a healthy relationship with food, and I would be so glad to talk over the phone or in person if you are in the Seattle area.
Links for more information: