This past week, you may have noticed that various radio, television, and social media outlets have focused on shedding light on eating disorder facts, resources, and stories. Their efforts have all been a way to meet the goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, a period in which communities across the country publically call attention to, advocate, and educate about eating disorders and spread hope about resources and recovery for those who suffer.
How You Can Help
As National Eating Disorders Awareness Week comes to a close, you may be wondering how you can contribute to the cause and perpetuate NEDA’s efforts. Fortunately, you can always be a part of this campaign. Here are some tips on how to continue spreading awareness and joining the fight against eating disorders:
Evaluate your own relationship with food and body image
Whether or not you struggle with an eating disorder, the best way to join the effort in spreading awareness is to examine your own relationship with food and body image. Your eating behaviors and relationship with your body may be dysfunctional and impacting your quality of life; however, sometimes seeing our own challenges is difficult because we are so entrenched in them, or we may convince ourselves that we are okay. NEDA provides a screening tool to help individuals evaluate their disordered eating more objectively and open their eyes to the importance of seeking help. Here is the tool: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/screening-tool
After evaluating your own challenges, you can decide what kind of help to pursue. Psychotherapy is an essential part of eating disorder treatment, so meeting with a therapist can be your first step towards recovery.
Fight the culture
To further spread eating disorder awareness, you can become part of the solution. The culture we live in can put others at risk for eating disorders, due to constant messages about dieting and thin idealization. You can help change this culture by challenging them. If you notice any communications that a particular body type is unworthy or that any foods are “bad”, gently call them out and explain why they are harmful. Use social media as an outlet to challenge these messages – stand up to harmful comments and instead, leave kind, encouraging ones. Set an example by modeling self-respect and displaying yourself accurately on social media, sans filters. In fact, you can sign onto NEDA’s Body Challenge and encourage others to do so: http://neda.nationaleatingdisorders.org/site/Survey?ACTION_REQUIRED=URI_ACTION_USER_REQUESTS&SURVEY_ID=14492
Educate yourself and others about eating disorders.
So many misconceptions exist about eating disorders, such as the idea that they are a choice, simply about vanity, and that they affect only White teenage girls. In order to spread awareness, you have to be aware of the different eating disorders, how they present and affect individuals, and how to support others. This will broaden your idea of eating disorders, gain empathy and understanding for those who struggle, and equip you to bust myths and spread awareness in society. To learn more about eating disorders, check out some of my other blog posts: https://oasis2care.com/counseling-blog/
Donate, Volunteer, and Advocate
You can help spread awareness about eating disorders by effecting change on a national level. For instance you can support legislation that can help with eating disorder treatment and prevention; you can also help fundraise or donate to contribute financially to NEDA’s efforts (clinical, research, or advocacy), or take on a volunteer position. See the links below for opportunities:
***You can actually join a great opportunity to advocate this April, by attending the Los Angeles NEDA Walk: https://www.facebook.com/events/302797180512331/
Support loved ones who are struggling.
By taking part in all of the above, you may be directly and indirectly supporting others with eating disorders. If you have a loved one who is suffering, remember that you cannot cure their disorder or save them; you can just support them. Ask them what they need and avoid giving any advice to “fix” their concerns. Instead, you can show your support by encouraging them to seek help from a trained professional (a psychotherapist, dietician, psychiatrist, or physician).
To learn more about Eating Disorder Awareness Week, you can visit: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-involved/nedawareness
Or follow the campaign hashtags: #NEDAwareness #ComeAsYouAre
Bio: Bahar Moheban, M.A. is a clinical psychology doctoral candidate and registered psychological assistant in Torrance under the supervision of Dr. Nazanin Moali. She offers both individual and group psychotherapy to adolescents and adults with disordered eating, body image concerns, and other mental health disorders. If you are seeking relief from an eating disorder and want support for yourself or your loved one, call Bahar for a counseling appointment.