The Importance Of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

The Importance Of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

We grow through what we go through, so let’s get real and brave this battle together.

This year's National Eating Disorder Awareness week is upon us, February 26-March 3rd. This week is dedicated to highlighting the growing epidemic of eating disorders throughout the United States and encourage those in need of help to act upon that need.

There are many reasons why those suffering from these mental illnesses fail to receive the help they so desperately need, including negative stereotypes and stigmas.

The National Eating Disorder Association aims to eliminate those stigmas and instead empower. Empower victims to seek recovery through love and support.

Actively seeking recovery is essential in any battle with a mental disorder, especially an eating disorder. The consequences for those who don’t seek recovery can be life-altering and ultimately end in death.

You see, eating disorders are deceptive. They creep up on their victims, seemingly innocent, and then seize control of all actions and thoughts. Not only are they deceptive to those battling them, but also the loved ones of those victims.

Your friend could have an eating disorder and you may not even know it.

What seems to be a simple diet or weight obsession could actually be a much deeper problem.

These deceptive diseases have managed to control millions of Americans, with nearly 30 million people of all genders suffering from full-blown eating disorders in the United States. 30 million.

I was one of those millions.

One of those victims whose actions and thoughts were controlled by an eating disorder. Anorexia Nervosa did more than just shave 20 plus pounds off my waistline. It stole memories, relationships, confidence, and ultimately the love I had for myself and others.

I no longer consider myself a victim.

Merriam-Webster defines a victim as one that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent.

While Anorexia Nervosa temporarily “adversely affected” my life, I no longer give the disease that control. I no longer analyze every calorie burned and every calorie consumed. I no longer stare at my body in the mirror and see a shell of a person staring back at me. I am no longer a victim.

Anorexia Nervosa may have left some scars, but I am a survivor. I am a survivor because those around me recognized that I so desperately needed help. I am a survivor because I had an amazing support system holding my hand all along the way. I am a survivor because I realized I am worth it.

Let’s be that support system for those in need. Let’s hold the hands of those suffering and walk them to the finish line. Let’s turn those 30 million victims into survivors. Let’s work to end the negative stereotypes and stigmas.

This year's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week theme is “Let’s Get Real” and the goal is to highlight stories we don’t often hear. Take a moment to listen to those around you, even if they aren’t speaking. When someone around you is suffering, their cries for help are often times silent.

Listen for those silent cries.

We grow through what we go through, so let’s get real and brave this battle together.

Cover Image Credit: unsplash

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It's Not About What You Wear

Connect with the people you love and everything else will melt away

As a young girl, fashion played a big role in my life. Of course, looking back now, I don’t think I can necessarily call my clothing choices“fashion.” But that never stopped me. I loved dressing up and acting mature, or just dressing down and acting like a complete fool. Whatever I put on, I felt comfortable in. However, that all changed as I began growing up. I started to notice all of the ridiculous standards girls my age were expected to reach: size zero waist, big butt, large breasts, big eyes, small nose, full lips, and long legs. It was overwhelming. My self-esteem that was once so high began to drop further and further down with every little comment or criticism about my body. It got to a point where I began to become convinced that everyone was making fun of my appearance behind my back or at least thinking it. I understand how self-obsessed and narcissistic that may sound, but paranoia really does take over. I pined after the pretty girls I saw on social media with their perfect bodies and fulfilling lives. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that I dreaded leaving the house. The stress of finding something to wear with the intent of hiding or essentially blurring my body became onerous. I hated looking at myself, feeling embarrassed and angry that I let myself look and feel this way.

As I started my infernal journey through high school, my self-esteem began affecting other elements of my life. I started to blame every negative aspect that occurred towards my weight. My life was turning bleak and my existence was becoming questionable. The infliction of insecurities unfolded into something deeper and darker: depression. I looked back and yearned for the 7-year old that was fearless and worry-free. The 7-year-old who was comfortable in her own skin. I soon got myself stuck in a dark hole so deep, it felt inescapable and suffocating.

As I slowly started to approach my final years of high school, I met a group of people in band class during my junior year. Through multiple classes and countless hours spent together through the band program, we became a close-knit group, almost like a bunch of peas squished together into one small pod. As cliché as this may sound, they changed my entire outlook on the world and even on how I viewed myself. The world was gaining back its vivid colors and the rope was being rolled down into my deep dark chasm. I realized that my life is precious and important. I have meaning and purpose. Something as little as my appearance should have no effect on the achievements I wish to pursue in life. The simple act of surrounding yourself with positive vibes and good people can make a whole lot of a difference. However, it is not only about the people around you. It took me a long time to realize this, but the most imperative and influential addendum is your mindset. After months of controlling my anxiety by spending time with convivial people, I started training my mind. I reminded myself of my importance and the people in my life that cared for me. Although my 7-year old persona is not back and may never return, I learned an even better lesson and have become a new person. I got back my sense of importance and meaning. I now see that such insignificant factors, such as how you look or how you dress, should have no correlation to your success in life. The part of me I once pined for has learned to not look back, but to move on forward and focus on the bigger things in life. It has also learned to work that much harder for the things it truly wants.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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My Diet Is Eating Whatever I Want Whenever I Want

Eat what makes you feel happy and healthy because, in the end, it is your body and nobody else's.

When I was about 15 years old, I became a little too health-obsessed, to the point where I developed an eating disorder. I restricted my calories and ate a low-carb diet. I became extremely underweight and developed other health issues, such as almost being anemic. This was quite a dark time in my life, however, through familial support and a change in mindset, I was able to overcome my anorexia.

After being "cured" of my eating disorder, I still did not have a healthy relationship with food. I saw food as evil, for I believed food would make me fat. I did want to eat but did not want to gain weight. I began looking for different diets that would make me feel satisfied while allowing me to keep my belly flat; I happened to stumble upon the vegan diet. In particular, I stumbled upon Freelee's Youtube channel, in which she advertised the vegan diet as a magical diet in which one could eat as many carbs as one wanted while still remaining lean.

And so, after watching countless of Youtube videos on veganism, I go vegan. I stop eating all animal products, even honey. I was a strict vegan. I would make a lot of my own foods because a lot of foods like granola bars, for example, have dairy or other animal products in them. I am not going to say I hated the vegan diet, or that I ever felt restricted because it was a wonderful experience that I would never take back. I learned that you can make good food without having to use animal products. I was vegan for about a year, and then I stopped.

To be completely honest, I do not know why I stopped being vegan, but I just remember saying I just wanted to eat chicken again.

When I went back to being an omnivore, I noticed I gained a lot of weight and felt uglier and more lethargic. I did not like this feeling of feeling heavier without energy, however, I remained an omnivore.

It was not until I got to college that my diet would again change. In my dining hall, there is a lot of vegan and vegetarian options. When the options are available, it is difficult for me to resists them, since I naturally have a tendency to eat fewer animal products. Currently, I have not been eating meat, and only eat either fish or eggs. However, the majority of the time I eat tofu, fruit, vegetables, and rice. I also don't consume dairy products because they upset my stomach.

I like my new diet, and I used to want to label myself as a "vegan" or as being "dairy-free" however, I don't care about those labels anymore. I eat the foods I like; I eat foods that make me feel happy and healthy.

In addition, I eat whenever I get hungry. If it is midnight and I am studying for an exam, I will go buy some chips and eat them, because I am hungry or I will munch on an apple because I can.

So, that is my diet, my diet is eating the foods I like and eating them at whatever time I want. If you do happen to follow a strict diet, like a vegan diet, I do not shame you for it, I think the vegan diet is a great diet. On the other hand, if you love steak or hamburgers, I do not shame you for that either, at one point in my life, I also ate steak. My point is, eat what makes you feel happy and healthy because, in the end, it is your body and nobody else's.

Cover Image Credit: Lizbeth Ibarra

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