5 Things To Know This National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that will affect approximately 20 million women and 10 million men in their lifetime.

This year’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 26th to March 4th, and the National Eating Disorders Association is striving to create an open dialogue where the world can be educated about the reality of eating disorders. Here are five things that you should know about eating disorders, and some ways that you can help.

1. Eating disorders don’t discriminate. For many people, when they think of eating disorders, the first thing they think of is Anorexia Nervosa. While Anorexia Nervosa does affect a large number of individuals and is the deadliest of all mental illnesses, it is not the only eating disorder. Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), Binge Eating Disorder, Orthorexia, and OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder) are all serious illnesses that affect all genders, races, ages, religions, and social classes.

2. Eating disorders aren’t only about weight and food. One of the largest misconceptions about eating disorders is that they are all about weight and food. While this is the case for some individuals, for the majority of individuals there are other underlying reasons, such as PTSD or another mental illness. For many people, the eating disorder is used as a coping mechanism, which can be difficult to change.

3. Recovery is a choice, the eating disorder is not. Eating disorders are not a choice. They are complex, debilitating mental illnesses. Recovering from an eating disorder is a choice, and it’s a choice that takes a lot of work and bravery to commit to.

4. Treatment is expensive. Eating disorder treatment can cost upwards of $30,000 a month. While some insurance companies comprehensively cover eating disorder treatment, most eating disorder sufferers have to fight with their insurance companies to get any form of treatment, often not even the level of care the sufferer truly needs. The high cost of treatment can make it extremely challenging for sufferers to find recovery.

5. Eating disorders aren’t glamorous. Due to unfortunate representations of eating disorders in the media, there is a misconception that eating disorders are something glamorous and desirable. Eating disorders are deadly and have serious health risks, such as heart failure, kidney failure, gastroparesis, osteoporosis, and more. Glamorizing eating disorders makes choosing recovery difficult for eating disorder sufferers.

Here are some ways that you can help:

1. Attend a NEDA Walk. By attending a NEDA Walk, you can help bring awareness to eating disorders, while also raising money for educational resources, the NEDA Helpline, eating disorder research, and many more important services for eating disorder sufferers.

2. Volunteer with Project HEAL. Project HEAL is a non-profit delivering prevention, treatment financing, and recovery support for people suffering from eating disorders, while also reinforcing the idea that full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. With chapters across the US and the world, there are many opportunities to help make recovery possible for all eating disorder sufferers.

This #NEDAwareness Week, get informed and help make a difference for those living with eating disorders.