National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

This year, National Eating Disorder Awareness week is February 22nd-28th. The theme is “Everybody Has a Seat at the Table.” Eating disorders are the mental illnesses with the highest mortality rate, and affect around 9% of the population. They are difficult to spot, and they impact the lives of people of all different races, genders, and sizes. Though it may seem scary to approach a loved one you know is suffering, here are some things eating disorder survivors agree have been said to them that offered them support and made them feel more comfortable opening up, or things they want others to know: 

“Having someone understand it is not for attention, and that I do not like to talk about it in fear that others will think it is. Also, for eating disorders not to be romanticized, because they are a daily struggle for everyone who is affected. Lastly, for everyone to understand it is not in vanity, and it is not all about being skinny.” 

“Someone reminded me food is fuel. If you fuel your body with the right things, you feel amazing. If you fuel it with the wrong things, you will feel run down. If you don’t fuel it at all, you will eventually shut down. It made me feel like I still had a sense of control over my eating still, but also fueling myself to get through my days. Just always remember that food is fuel, and to fuel yourself with the right things.” 

“The harsh reality is that you are your own biggest supporter. Weight isn’t a determining factor of beauty or happiness. Find beauty within your own mind and life soon gets much easier. Any eating disorder is valid, and you do not need to be skinny, starving, etc. Find help in those who love and care about you. Recovering is never linear.”

“A piece of advice I would give to anyone struggling currently is to find peace and comfort within your mind first. You will never regain the love for you or your body if you don’t first control your thoughts. One thing that really helped me was the quote, ‘We accept the love we think we deserve.’ With an eating disorder, it’s hard to try and find things about yourself that you love, but without that comfort in yourself, you will never give yourself the love that you and your body both deserve.”

“Growing up in dance, I can not say that my eating disorder was uncommon. Staring at myself in the mirror for hours every day and never being as skinny as the other girls really began to affect me. My advice is to stop comparing yourself to others, because I eventually realized how lucky I was to have a body where I was able to move and express myself, even if it did not look like everyone else's.”

“I wish others understood that although I appreciate the help they think they are giving, they don’t actually know what I and others go through on a daily basis. Others look in the mirror and see nothing wrong with their bodies, whereas I, and I’m sure so many others, look and see the imperfections, when in reality, there’s none at all. I wish people knew that their words ‘just eat’ may not be as effective as they think. I may know that I have to eat, but physically doing the action is much harder than it seems. In therapy, a quote that I have learned that has made my day to day life much easier is ‘Don’t worry so much about what you’re eating, but more about what you’re feeling.’”

If you or someone you know is struggling, please consider speaking to a professional. Below are many resources readily available to offer assistance. Forever remember that you are beautiful, the number on the scale does not define you, and that there is hope for recovery. 

The National Eating Disorder Association 

Call: 1-800-931-2237

Text “NEDA” to 741741

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

Call: 888-375-7767

The National Suicide Hotline

Call: 1-800-784-2433

The National Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center: 

Call: 1-858-481-1515