In light of NEDA’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (Feb. 25 – March 3, 2019), here is some awareness to take with you and let inspire good health year-round. – C. Popik & J. Marnell
Walk a mile in our shoes
Having an eating disorder is an odd sort of “disease” because of its side effects.
Other than dizziness, thinning hair, brittle nails and brain damage, it also can result in refusal to eat one’s own birthday cake. Or an irrational yet unmistakable fear of carbohydrates.
Eating disorders are a beast because they attack the body as they attack the mind, which causes the mind to continually deprive the body. It’s a vicious and all-consuming cycle, yet it isn’t an uncommon one.
People around the world of all ages and genders have been subjected to some form of an eating disorder–anything ranging from body insecurity to an unhealthy dieting obsession to a deadly form of fasting.
As National Eating Disorder Awareness Week comes to a close, it is important to clear a few things up.
No one chooses to have an eating disorder.
While an eating disorder might start as a voluntary New Year’s resolution to diet and get healthy, no one consciously makes the choice to get “addicted” to dieting, exercising and obsessing about food. There are people who can diet and be completely healthy with it, and there are others who start dieting and cannot stop.
Eating disorders can stem from body image.
More often than not, body image issues stem from external forces like social media or a parent or friend. Something I learned, after many years, is that mirrors and scales lie and that feeling happy and healthy, having the energy to function and eating cake on your birthday are the only images anyone should worry about.
Eating disorders aren’t just a girl problem.
Boys also suffer from eating disorders because of the same unrealistic external expectations in the media and from peers about what an ideal male body is supposed to look like.
Once you have an eating disorder, you may always be triggered by certain things.
Even after recovering from an eating disorder, there still may be times when you can’t look at a piece of decadent cheesecake without second-guessing yourself or asking yourself if you deserve it. You still might have a hard time enjoying the same sugary treats you loved as a child as you did before. You may still go into a dressing room and tear up because of the body image flaws you see reflecting back at you. Unfortunately, eating disorders can leave behind this kind of baggage. The best thing you can do is to recognize how you feel, but let fleeting thoughts pass as they should instead of letting them change the healthy behavior patterns you worked hard to create in recovery.
It is possible to get better and make improvements.
Eat cake on your birthday. Exercise in a fun, healthy way, instead of aggressively jumping rope to burn calories. Get happier as you get healthier. Life is too short to overthink every calorie eaten or burned.
We’re some of the fortunate ones. Thanks to help from family, doctors and counselors, disordered eating is in the past. It is in this week of eating disorder awareness though, that we must realize that the potential for it to return is always in our present. We must focus and make it our mission for it to stay out of our futures.
[media-credit id=2238 align=”aligncenter” width=”404″][/media-credit][media-credit id=2238 align=”aligncenter” width=”500″][/media-credit][media-credit id=2238 align=”aligncenter” width=”500″][/media-credit]