“I Had No Idea”: EDAW 2014

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW) is being held February 23rd to March 1st, 2014.
The theme this year is “I had no idea”.
What ideas do you have about eating disorders?
There are lots of misperceptions.
For example, when people find out I specialize in the treatment of eating disorders, they assume I meet solely with teenage girls. Nope. Girls and women, boys and men, of ALL ages, shapes, and ethnicity present with eating disorder symptoms.

Get the facts!

Eating disorders are complex conditions with serious consequences for health, productivity, and relationships.
They are not a fad, phase or lifestyle choice.

People struggling with an eating disorder need to seek professional help.
The earlier a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, the greater the likelihood of physical and emotional recovery.

In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). I will have separate blog posts on these disorders as the month of February progresses.

For lots of  reasons, many eating disorder cases are not reported. In addition, many people struggle with body dissatisfaction and disordered eating attitudes and behaviors.

The best-known contributor to the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is body dissatisfaction
By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat.

Eating disorders are serious! They affect a person’s emotional and physical health. In the United States alone, 30 million people will be impacted by an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime.

These conditions affect all kinds of people and don’t discriminate by race, age, sex, age or size.

“Marissa” (not her real name) is blonde, blue eyed, and thin. She works as a fitness trainer and looks like a model from Shape  magazine. Yet, she is absolutely convinced that she is not perfect enough. She believes that she will be happy if she could only have more control over her weight and eating. Twenty four/seven she thinks about food and calories. Marissa feels like a complete fake because she has kept her eating disorder a secret from everyone, including her husband and family.

“Allie” (another fictitious name) is either on a diet or about to start one.  Just before she is about to start a diet, she eats large amounts of foods that she otherwise avoids. She categorizes food as ‘good’ (e.g. fruits, vegetables) or ‘bad’ (e,g. pasta, baked goods, ice cream), and believes she is ‘good’ if she eats ‘good food’ and is ‘bad’ if she eats ‘bad food’.  When she eats a lot of food, she  then compensates by throwing up or over-exercising. Life is all-or-none for Allie. She is constantly thinking about food and her weight. Every time she eats a lot of food, she promises herself it is the last time she will ever do that. But, it keeps happening.

“Katie’s” body is larger than she would like it to be. However, she is very comfortable in her own skin. She is athletic, active, and loves clothes. She enjoys being out with friends. She never criticizes her body, out loud or to herself. She eats a variety of foods and loves chocolate.

There are lots of reasons why an eating disorder develops. Many of us believe that changing our body will fix everything.  Hence the weight loss industry yields  so many billions of dollars. We erroneously think that body size is the cause of our problems and, therefore, if we change our body, we find the solution to our problems. Many of us believe that being thin equals being special.  Another NOPE!

The good news: Eating Disorders are completely, 100% curable, with specialized treatment.
Many people incorrectly believe that once a person has an eating disorder, s/he will always suffer from an eating disorder. NOPE!

Get the facts! Inevitably, someone close to you is suffering from an eating disorder.  Knowledge is power.

Dr. Elayne Daniels

Leave a Comment