The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) recently celebrated its annual awareness week at the end of February. The goal of NEDA Awareness Week is to shine the spotlight on eating disorders by educating people, spreading messages of hope, and putting lifesaving resources into the hands of those in need. According to the Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders Organization, 9% of the world’s population suffers from some sort of eating disorder. That is almost 1 out of every 10 people you know. Many of our close friends and family members may be suffering from an eating disorder without us even realizing it. The first step to getting help is understanding what an eating disorder is, how it affects the people going through it, and how we can receive help for ourselves or support those we love.
Most Common Eating Disorders
- Anorexia Nervosa– People with this disorder will limit their food intake or compensate for it through various purging behaviors. They have an intense fear of gaining weight, despite their current weight.
- Bulimia Nervosa– This disorder causes people to eat large amounts of food in short periods, then purge. Individuals suffering from bulimia nervosa also fear gaining weight despite typically being at a healthy weight.
- Binge Eating Disorder– People who suffer from this eating disorder regularly and uncontrollably consume large amounts of food in short periods of time. Unlike people with other eating disorders, they do not purge.
- Pica– Individuals with pica tend to crave and eat non-food substances.
- Rumination Disorder- People with this condition generally regurgitate the food they’ve recently swallowed. Then, they chew it again and either swallow it or spit it out.
- Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder – This is an eating disorder that causes people to undereat. This is either due to a lack of interest in food or an intense distaste for how certain foods look, smell, or taste.
The harmful effects of these disorders are not only physically damaging, but they can also have a strong negative impact psychologically. Some of the physical effects of eating disorders include heart problems, dehydration and malnutrition, slowed brain function, gastroparesis, decreased hormonal level, hypothermia, and deterioration of the esophagus and teeth. The psychological effects include distorted thoughts, obsessive behaviors, low self-esteem, self-harm, anxiety, depression, social isolation, and risk of suicide. These disorders can be challenging to overcome alone, that’s why NEDA Awareness Week can be a great tool for finding help.
NEDA Awareness Week empowers individuals to share their knowledge, ideas, and hope with one another so that nobody has to go through this by themselves. Whether you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, we invite you to educate yourself. Read articles and books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos to better understand the behaviors and risks associated with these disorders. If you or a loved one are seeking further help on the healing journey and re-establishing a healthy mind, body, and food relationship, please give us a call at 435-201-8708.