See the Change, Be the Change: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week
February 23, 2022
February 21 – 27 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which is put on by the National Eating Disorder Association. National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAwareness Week) is an annual campaign to educate the public about the realities of eating disorders and to provide hope, support, and visibility to individuals and families affected by eating disorders. This year’s theme is See the Change, Be the Change. Recognizing the work of visibility in the community is important, but it’s equally as important, if not more, to continue being the change in bringing awareness to these disorders.
Types of eating disorders*
- Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss (or lack of appropriate weight gain in growing children); difficulties maintaining an appropriate body weight for height, age, and stature; and, in many individuals, distorted body image
- Bulimia nervosa is characterized by a cycle of binge eating and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating.
- Binge eating disorder the most common eating disorder in the United States, is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food; a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures to counter the binge eating.
Eating disorders are complex and can affect anyone. Factors that come into play for risk include psychological, biological and social situations. Though not yet proven to be related to genetics, someone is more prone to developing an eating disorder having a close relative with an eating disorder or mental health condition, a history of dieting, or negative energy balance. Psychological factors can come into play if someone is a perfectionist, has body image dissatisfaction, or even behavioral inflexibility. Social factors are prominent especially in Western cultures, including weight stigma, teasing or bullying, appearance ideal internalization, acculturation, limited social networks and historical trauma. Eating disorders aren’t only an isolated condition. Many things can contribute to someone developing an eating disorder.
- Show and state your love.
- Avoid the temptation to control the person.
- Trust that your loved one has developed his or her own high values, ideals, and standards.
- Encourage self-responsibility for your loved one’s actions, both successes and setbacks.
- Offer support during times of discouragement.
- Do not urge your loved one to eat or not eat, unless this is part of the plan for treatment.
- Avoid comparisons with other people.
- Listen to feelings.
- Do not be controlled by your loved one’s behavior.
Eating disorders happen for many different reasons. Many people who have an eating disorder come from families in which other members have eating disorders or have other conditions such as depression. This doesn’t mean that a family member caused the disorder. It simply means that these conditions seem more likely to happen in that family.
To learn more about NEDAwareness Week, visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-involved/nedawareness
*Information from NEDA website