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NEDA stands for “National Eating Disorders Week” which took place from February 22nd to February 28th, 2021. This week is all about educating the public on the topic of eating disorders while providing resources to those who may be in need. 

This year's message was: everybody has a seat at the table. Eating disorders affect people of all genders, body types, and ethnicities. They are more prevalent than we think. In 2020 alone, approximately 1 million Canadians were diagnosed with some form of an eating disorder. 

Eating disorders are brain-based mental illnesses. Food, exercise, body shape, weight, and eating habits preoccupy one’s life. Eating disorders are not anything to be ashamed of. Nor are they simply just about food, or a “lifestyle choice”. 

[bf_image id="4jwsjrfkcqrpsg6gjg5bjk2g"] There are many types of eating disorders that affect all body types. A common misconception is that only those who are extremely skinny can have an eating disorder. However, this is far from the truth. 

Here are a few warning signs to look out for if you suspect someone is struggling with an ED:

  • They avoid eating or come up with excuses to not eat 

  • Preoccupation with dieting

  • Consistent weight fluctuation

  • Poor body image

  • Possible excessive exercise 

  • Preoccupation with body or weight 

  • Using the bathroom directly after meals 

  • Loss of interest in social activities 

Here are a few things you should never say to someone who is struggling with an ED:

  • “Just eat”

  • “You look so healthy”

  • “Are you sure you want to eat all that?”

  • “You look hungry”

  • “I’m surprised you're eating that”

  • “Didn’t you just eat a burger?”

  • “You’ll be satisfied once you lose a little bit of weight”

Eating disorders are less about the actual food and more about your relationship with food. Such as feelings of intense guilt, frustration, or unworthiness. 

Some supportive words to offer someone struggling with an ED: 

  • “You’re enough” 

  • “You are so much more than a number on a scale” 

  • “How can I best support you?” 

  • “Recovery is never linear, setbacks are normal” 

  • “Recovery is possible”

  • “Why don’t we make a meal together that you're comfortable with?”

  • “I am proud of you and you are strong”

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For more information regarding eating disorders and how you can help those around you that are struggling, visit: 

  1. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-involved/nedawareness

  2. https://www.instagram.com/neda/

Just remember, recovery is possible. You are never alone. You can beat this and you will. 

Alexandra is a fourth year student majoring in Sociology at Queen's University. She is also the president of a club on campus that she is passionate about; Girls Inc. at Queen's. She hopes her writing helps others as much as it helps her! 
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