National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2017
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Health and Wellness

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2017

It's time to talk about it!

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2017

This week, Sunday, February 26th-Saturday, March 4th is National Eating Disorder Awareness week or NEDA week. The theme for this year's awareness week is "Let's talk about it!” Spreading awareness of eating disorders and even just starting the conversation about them will greatly help with the fight against the stigma associated with eating disorders because eating disorders are illnesses that people often find uncomfortable to discuss. The media and society makes so many cruel jokes against people suffering from an eating disorder, demeaning their struggle. There have been countless times I've heard people just throw around these illnesses as nothing, implying that those suffering from an eating disorder weren't really suffering.To most people, an eating disorder is just a fad or a diet but they don't view it as an illness. It is important to educate people on what eating disorders actually are in order to help those struggling and those in recovery and to address dangerous misconceptions of eating disorders. Here are a few things people should know about eating disorders.

1. What exactly is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is a serious illness, can be life threatening, and affects a person's physical and mental health, relationships, and many more aspects of their life. Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and OSFED (Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder) impact 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States alone.

2. You can't tell if someone is suffering from an eating disorder by just looking at them.

This is extremely important. The number of times I've heard people comment on how skinny someone was and go on to proclaim that they probably had an eating disorder really saddens me. A person's physical appearance is not a true indicator of whether they are suffering from one or not. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes and a person suffering from one can be at a normal weight or even be overweight. This kind of misconception is what stigmatizes these illnesses and keeps people from opening up about their struggles and possibly seeking treatment. Eating disorders are much more than weight, appearance, and food.

3. Eating disorders don't discriminate.

People from all races, cultures, and of all genders can have one.

4. Having an eating disorder is not a choice.

I once overheard a conversation when I was shopping between two people. One woman was complimenting another woman on how good she looked and the other woman responded by saying "I don't know. I think I might have to go anorexic for a while to shed this fat." I wanted to step in to correct them, to tell them how having anorexia wasn't a choice, how painful it was to feel worthless, but I was too shocked at what I just heard so I left the store. That conversation bothered me for days. You can't magically flip the on and off switch with an eating disorder. They aren't diets or fads and no one chooses to have one. No one chooses to go through that much pain every single day, letting their mind convince them that they aren't good enough.

5. A person can't recover from an eating disorder by "just eating again."

Recovery from an eating disorder is a lifelong process and it is much more complicated than it seems. While eating disorders do have to do with food, there is also the aspect of self-esteem, body image, and other illnesses such as depression and anxiety that co-occur with them and also need to be worked on in recovery. With recovery comes relapse, so just because someone seems fine, doesn't mean that they are completely healed. Telling someone with an eating disorder to just eat is like telling someone with a broken foot to just walk again. By making recovery seem that simple, people can belittle someone's struggles and make them feel even worse.

There is so much more awareness that needs to be brought to eating disorders and the myths and facts about them. This is why NEDA week is important. This year, learn about eating disorders and start the conversation on them. It is important to talk about them so that the myths and stigma against eating disorders can be shattered, so that more and more people will feel safe to talk about their struggle with their eating disorder. This year's theme encourages you to take a stride in starting the conversation on eating disorders because that could make a huge difference in the way eating disorders are viewed in society. If you are struggling with an eating disorder please know that you are not alone and you can win the fight again your illness. You are beautiful, strong, and wonderful and you can make it through this. For anyone who knows someone with an eating disorder or wants to learn more visit NEDA's website.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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