February 21-27th marks National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Recognized by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), this special health observance seeks to educate people on what eating disorders are and how they can help bring support and hope to individuals that suffer from them. According to the NEDA, approximately 30 million Americans struggle with some form of eating disorder. Bearing that in mind, we’ll be sharing a few ways in which you can help amplify the message of this week’s observance.
Educate yourself on eating disorders
Eating disorders, while not new, are still misunderstood on a larger scale. Most times, they can be brushed aside or, when they don’t appear as we expect, ignored completely. An eating disorder is categorized as a psychological disorder that results in abnormal eating habits. There is a total of 12 eating disorders and some examples include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and compulsive overeating. Though these disorders themselves are different from one another, they are similar in the fact that they encompass abnormal eating habits developed as the result of psychological damage.
2. Be mindful of communication regarding food/body image
There are many ways in which eating disorders can develop, but one way to help combat their development is to readjust the way in which we communicate about food and body image. Instead of labeling certain foods as “bad” and “good”, find other ways to describe the foods in your life. Additionally, changing our attitudes around body image to be that of acceptance and appreciation would be a big step in the right direction to help those that are struggling. Instead of focusing on what you don’t like about your body, choose to highlight what you can appreciate.
3. Uplift those that struggling with eating disorders
If you know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, the best thing you can do is be there for them. Everyone’s journey to recovery looks different, so finding out how you can best respect them and support them is a start. Maybe that includes sharing and planning meals to enjoy together or having positive discussions about body image would be ideal. Make sure to check with them to see what is okay for them to talk about and what things they might not be okay discussing.
4. Be kind
Regardless of whether you have an eating disorder or not, it is important to always be kind, both to yourself and to others. In developing a healthy mindset around food and our body image, we make it easier to be kinder to ourselves and to others. With that, make sure to take time out of your day to show yourself compassion and love. Taking the time to enjoy the meals you prepare and the way you look can surely help you develop a healthy mindset around yourself.
Helping support the mission of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week can be done with the utmost kindness and compassion by following these steps. To learn more about nurturing healthful habits, visit our blog!