Tuesday, February 25, 2014

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

It's National Eating Disorders Awareness week. The number of people I know who have struggled with an eating disorders or with shutting out trigger thoughts that could lead to an eating disorder is astounding, especially since coming to college. Freshman year, many of my newfound college friends stressed about gaining weight and about trying to get the "perfect" body. if I'm going to be completely honest, I got caught up in the talk of the freshman 15 myself. No, I never tried to restrict my calorie intake, I never over-exercised, and I never skipped any meals, but I was consciously aware of all of the negative body image bashing and the fact that not gaining 15 pounds your freshman year of college is a challenge only the most disciplined and determined people can accept. Although I didn't try to lose weight, I can't say I was too upset when I saw the numbers on the scale remain stable, even though at the time I was dangerously underweight and knew that I NEEDED to gain at least 15 pounds. (However, when I started actually losing weight pretty dramatically, I did start freaking out because I knew I would be forced to get a feeding tube if I didn't reverse the trend and gain weight as soon as possible. Praise the Lord for new enzymes that help my body absorb food better so I didn't have to go down that road!)  Comparing my body to others and constantly hearing about the "terrors" of weight gain was not healthy for me (and still isn't healthy.) If you've found yourself struggling with comparing yourself to others like I did, please stop! Find your identity and beauty in Christ and Chris alone. Don't get carried away with obsessing over keeping track of your weight. Obsession can lead to much more serious problems. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please don't keep it a secret. Eating disorders are scary and life-threatening. Get professional assistance. Cry out to the Lord to help you shake free from the hold that the eating disorder has on your life. Do whatever is necessary to dig out of the eating disorder hole and stand back on your feet again. 

Below is an article about the national eating disorders awareness week that was posted on the Huffington Post online. Let's not be afraid to discuss image struggles people have like anorexia or bulimia. Dear ones, you are all loved and deeply cherished! 

National Eating Disorders Awareness week: Get in the Know
By Kirsten Haglund

"I Had No Idea" is the theme of the 27th annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which is Feb. 23 -- March 1. Ask anyone. Most people suffering from eating disorders are young, wealthy, Caucasian women. And you can't be too rich or too thin, right? Wrong.

We expect to see eating disorders diagnosed among young girls and raging rampant in Hollywood and the advertising and fashion industries. As 2008's reigning Miss America, I am the stereotype. I did battle anorexia and, today, am thankful to be fully recovered.

But America is a melting pot like no other country and New York City, where I live, like no other city. And the truth is that eating disorders look much like our population, affecting every socio-economic demographic -- young/old, female/male, wealthy/poor, heterosexual/gay, Christian/Jewish, African-American, Hispanic, Asian and, yes, Caucasian. The rate of occurrence is also particularly high among college students, athletes and gay men. There may be challenges that are unique to each demographic -- men and African-American women are less inclined to seek help, for example -- but bottom line is that an eating disorder is a life-threatening illness no matter who you are.

Nationally, more than 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Four out of 10 Americans have either suffered or have known someone who has suffered from an eating disorder. [1]

I had no idea... that you can be too thin... that over-exercising can lead to an eating disorder... that 35 percent of "normal" dieters progress to pathological dieting and that, of those, 20-25 percent progress to full-blown eating disorders [2]... that an eating disorder can kill you or lead to permanent physical damage... that (I, my daughter, son, sister, brother, friend) had a problem.

Eating disorders happen behind closed doors. Signs are frequently overlooked (particularly among minorities), even by medical professionals... until the damage is undeniable. And even today there is often a reluctance to seek help, fearing that others might consider the disorder self-imposed. An eating disorder is a bio-psycho-social illness, not a lifestyle choice. We wouldn't judge someone with cancer or diabetes. Yet someone suffering from an eating disorder is sometimes criticized or dismissed.

But not much is going to change until we start a dialogue... until we love ourselves and strive to be healthy, not to achieve "ideal," unrealistic body images... until bullying is no longer a problem on our school campuses. As many as 65 percent of eating disorder sufferers cite the effects of size and weight bullying as the root of where their struggle began.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, research and program outcomes show that education and outreach lead to more people recognizing the problem and seeking help. Get the conversation started now in your family, your schools and your community.

Let's all come together to model acceptance and celebration of diversity in body shapes and sizes. And if you are concerned for yourself, a friend or family member, you can take a free, anonymous online screening for eating disorders at MyBodyScreening.org. And find more information at MyNeda.org.

I had no idea... that freedom from an eating disorder was possible. But I am living proof.

If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

For more information about NEDAwareness Week or how you can get involved: www.NEDAwareness.org

Article found at: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4782650

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