Today marks the start of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAwareness), an annual observation headed up by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) to bring more awareness to anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED). Millions of people around the world struggle with some form of disordered eating, and many do so without their friends and loved ones ever knowing. It’s a very personal, very private struggle tied up with complex feelings of guilt and shame that keep sufferers from opening up about what they’re experiencing and miss out on the critical treatment necessary for recovery in most cases.
This year’s theme, “3 Minutes Can Save a Life,” aims to change all that. NEDA has developed a short, anonymous online screening that anyone can take to help determine if disordered eating patterns or full-blown eating disorders are present. If you have any concerns at all about your own eating patterns or the habits of a loved one, I urge you to take the screening. A few minutes of your time could mean the difference between getting treated and spending years suffering with a painful physical, mental and emotional disorder.
If you’d like to get involved in spreading the word, visit NEDAwareness.org for images and printable resources to share during this important week. Tag #NEDAwareness on social media to keep the conversation going. There are also many events taking place online and off to help spread awareness of this silent — and potentially deadly — epidemic.
I’ve written quite a bit on the subject of eating disorders and body image in the past:
- The Effects of “Fat Talk” on Body Image
- The Influence of “Thinspiration:” Reflections on Body Image
The infographic below expands a bit more on the last post in the list. Hashtags like #thinspiration and Instagram accounts that are flooded with pictures of unrealistic bodies serve to drive those already prone to disordered eating to pursue unhealthy habits in an attempt to achieve physical perfection. For those trying to recover, such posts can be triggers that send them right back down the rabbit hole of illness.
Whether you suffer from an eating disorder yourself or simply don’t like something about your body, I encourage you to make this week the week you start to learn to love your physical shape. God has blessed each one of us with a very special, unique vessel in which to live, and that alone is something to stand in awe of.
Celebrate your body. Embrace what it can do. And get help if you’re stuck in a cycle of disordered eating and can’t get out — there is hope. <3
Credit: Can Social Media Feed Eating Disorders? by LifeWorks