National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Understanding EATING DISORDERS & Warning signs

Updated: Mar 9, 2018

February 26th, 2018 marks the start of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, with this year’s goal being “Let’s Get Real.”

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is hopeful that the campaign will highlight the stories we don’t often hear. And as a clinical nutritionist that works with those seeking eating disorder treatment both in private practice and at an outpatient center ED-180 located in Garden City, NY, you bet there is a clear majority of stories you do NOT hear.

In my opinion, there is a miseducation around eating disorders and due to that misunderstanding from others many people do not get the help they need. In fact, there has been an effort to build a residential treatment center in Glen Cove, NY that has been met with a fear from homeowners that it would destroy the town’s reputation. As of the date of publishing of this post, there are NO residential treatment facilities available on Long Island. This is a disservice for those with eating disorders who need a higher level of care. The town's belief of a tarnished reputation because of a treatment center has potential to negatively impact an individuals recovery.

According to NEDA, “30 million Americans will struggle with a full-blown eating disorder and millions more will battle food and body image issues that have untold negative impacts on their lives.”

Remarks that consistently come up in client’s sessions? “People don’t get it, my family doesn’t understand, my significant other can’t comprehend.” And this variable complicates things even further for the person seeking help (or involuntary receiving help) because they often don’t feel that their disorder is warranted.

We live in a culture that lives for appearance, promoting many different approaches towards food and exercise. In the same breath our culture demonizes food, creates a confusing model of what the gold standard of health is whilst emphasizing excessive exercise. You can scroll through Instagram and within five minutes come face to face with a picture of an airbrushed fitness model, a body positive account and posts selling you waists trainers that complicate viewpoints even more.

What is an eating disorder? NEDA explains it beautifully in this clear “What is an Eating Disorder?” Brochure

Because of the diversity of types of disorders, others can sometimes turn a blind eye because they are unsure of what to do. Here are some warning signs to be aware of via NEDA’s informative “What is an Eating Disorder?” Brochure

Remember that this list is not all inclusive.

I have heard various client’s mention that they wish someone would have expressed concern sooner. Please be aware that if you do approach the situation and that person is not ready to come forward with their struggle, they may not be honest with you initially. The best thing you can do is continue to educate yourself so you are no longer the person that “doesn’t get it.”


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