Picture this: it’s a rare sunny day here in the Pacific Northwest, and you’re walking down the street, feeling confident and carefree. Suddenly, you hear a voice in your head that says, “You’re not good enough.” “You’re too fat.” “You’ll never be happy until you’re thin.” Sound familiar? Unfortunately, for millions of people, these thoughts are all too real and a constant presence in their lives. Welcome to the world of eating disorders.
But there’s hope on the horizon! National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is gearing up for their annual National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, a time to raise awareness, provide support, and dispel harmful myths about eating disorders. So, grab a slice of pizza or a kale salad (all foods are acceptable, after all) and get ready to learn all about the ins and outs of eating disorders and why NEDA’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is the spotlight we need on some important truths about eating disorders.
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week
Eating disorders are a serious and prevalent issue that affect millions of people worldwide. 9% of the U.S population, or about 28.8 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. From anorexia to bulimia to binge eating disorder, these conditions can be life-threatening and have a devastating impact on both physical and mental health. But despite their prevalence, eating disorders are still shrouded in stigma and misunderstanding.
That’s why this February 27 – March 5 has been deemed National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, a time to raise awareness, provide support, and empower change for those affected by eating disorders. NEDA kick starts it’s campaign on eating disorder awareness and recovery with a simple slogan, “It’s time for change” with additional encouragement to #BeTheChange and #SeeTheChange.
Treatment & support for eating disorders is available at THIRA Health
If you or someone you know is suffering with an eating disorder, we are here to help. No one has to go through this alone. Learn how our therapeutic techniques and interventions adapted to the treatment of eating disorders can help you change your relationship with food and feel physically and emotionally happier and healthier.
So, what does it mean to #BeTheChange when it comes to eating disorder awareness? Being the change includes continued participation in advocacy, awareness efforts, and community building for those affected by eating disorders (parents and loved ones included). Being an informed individual can help you be an ally and resource to someone in need rather than perpetuating the shadow side of diet culture or engaging in unhelpful behaviors.
Start with what you know
Eating disorders are emotionally, mentally, and physically draining. This is a very isolating diagnosis that takes control of someone’s life. Knowing and identifying symptoms and behaviors of eating disorders can help you know when to step in and point them towards available support. This may be a tough conversation to have, but it can also be life-saving and the intervention someone needs to seek treatment for their eating disorder.
Share what you know
Whether you are a mentor to someone in recovery, post about your personal experiences in recovery on social media, or volunteer with a larger organization, you are supporting people just by being part of the eating disorder community. Adopting an attitude of continued learning and growth can inspire others and bring awareness to a preventable and treatable condition.
View community resources and advocacy efforts online or in your area that you can be a part of and share.
You can #SeeTheChange by recognizing and ensuring you’re receiving treatment that is consistent with the ever-evolving eating disorder field. The ultimate aim is to:
- Increase treatment success rates
- Decrease instances of relapse
- Identify warning signs
- Strengthen prevention messages and
- Continue to develop and improve upon current treatment options
Positive change is possible because of the awareness and advocacy work everyone does. Whether it is a steady increase in recovery resources, such as helplines, utilized, destigmatization of diagnosis, accessibility of treatments, groundbreaking research and legislative action, the change has become increasingly more visible.
What are some recent developments in the field of eating disorder treatment?
In recent years, there have been a number of important developments in the field of eating disorder treatment, including:
- Integration of technology: Technology has become an increasingly important tool in the treatment of eating disorders. Virtual therapy, online support groups, and telemedicine have become more common, allowing individuals to receive care from the comfort of their own homes.
- Expansion of evidence-based treatments: There has been a growing emphasis on evidence-based treatments for eating disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and family-based therapy. These treatments have been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms and improving outcomes for individuals with eating disorders.
- Recognition of comorbidities: There is a growing recognition of the importance of treating comorbid mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, in individuals with eating disorders. Many eating disorder treatments now incorporate a holistic approach, addressing not just the eating disorder, but also any underlying mental health conditions.
- Increased focus on diversity and inclusivity: There has been a growing focus on addressing the needs of diverse populations in eating disorder treatment, including individuals from different cultural, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds. This has led to the development of culturally responsive treatments and increased access to care for marginalized populations.
- Development of new pharmacotherapies: There has been significant progress in the development of new pharmacotherapies for eating disorders, including medications to treat anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder. These new medications are showing promise in reducing symptoms and improving outcomes for individuals with eating disorders.
These developments highlight the progress that has been made in the field of eating disorder treatment, and the growing emphasis on evidence-based, individualized, and accessible care. While more research is needed to continue to improve outcomes for individuals with eating disorders, these advances are a step in the right direction.
Eating Disorder Recovery Tools & Information
ED recovery is a journey, but one you do not have to tackle alone. There are many supports, therapies and tools that you can utilize, regardless of where you are in your recovery journey. Research shows that many Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) tools can be very effective for promoting positive coping skills and mood regulation.
Interpersonal effectiveness skills in eating disorder recovery
With all the discussion of advocacy on a global or national scale, it’s important to remember that advocacy begins within each of us. Everyone’s experience with disordered eating and recovery is different and that is ok. It is important to be able to effectively verbalize what supports work for you and what does not so your unique needs can be met.
Recovery for eating disorders often puts a strain on some of the most important relationships in your life. However, conflict in relationships can be improved by utilizing a DBT tool called DEAR MAN, for example. This is a tool that addresses the importance of self-advocacy, vocalizing needs, and maintaining positive interpersonal relationships. DEAR MAN stands for:
D – describe the situation
E – express your feelings/reaction to the situation
A – assert yourself in your perspective, needs and wants
R – reinforce the positive consequences of your ask, and clarify potential negative consequences
M – (be) mindful in your goals, delivery, and position
A – appear confident, knowledgeable and strong in your position
N – negotiate by willing to give to get
Positive affirmations for eating disorder recovery
Lastly, it is important to replace negative, unwanted behaviors or reactions to triggers with positive coping skills. One example of a DBT positive coping skill is practicing affirmations. It seems simple, but it is effective when practiced. Success is not always easy, but positive self-talk can make it possible. An example of a positive affirmation mantra may look like:
I am able to express my emotions in a healthy, positive way. I can do anything I want. I have many options and always make the best decisions I can. I have stability in my life and in myself. I like myself. I respect my body. My body is strong.
Eating Disorder Treatment at THIRA Health
If you need support in recovery, THIRA Health’s unique pillars and approach to eating disorder treatment may be the answer. Are you ready to #BeTheChange and #SeeTheChange?