By Jill Jensen
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week has come and gone, but raising awareness about Eating Disorders is something we can do any day of the year. While working at Avalon Hills, I have become more aware of what this week truly means to me. In the past, I would see and sometimes read interesting and insightful articles or videos about Eating Disorders (ED) on social media. The past few years during NEDA week have been different. This week in particular has been a special time of reflection and encouragement, and I seek to know how to further support individuals in all different stages of an ED. While working at Avalon Hills I have become educated about the etiological factors of an ED, the extensive work that our clients do every single day in the recovery process, and have witnessed the change process with many of our clients.
Becoming educated about Eating Disorders while working with ED individuals has empowered me to speak up: Speaking up in conversations about “bad foods”, or speaking up when a loved one says they will feel better about themselves after they lose “x amount” of pounds, and even speaking up for myself. I am human too and have toxic thoughts that cross my mind about my own body image or sense of self that I feel empowered to fight! I am learning it is hard work to speak up but worth it to combat all of the ED trends and slippery slopes present in society today, that continues to destroy lives.
Participating in Eating Disorder Awareness Week or raising awareness at anytime is as easy as sharing a cute animal meme that you see on your social media pages. You can start by following positive body image or ED Awareness pages. A few of my favorites are National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), Project Heal, The Body Positive, and Beauty Redefined. NEDA has endless educational and supportive resources on their website nationaleatingdisorders.org.
Eating Disorder Awareness can mean many different things. It could mean reading articles, books, listening to podcasts, or watching videos to educate yourself about ED behaviors and risks associated. It could also be learning how to support a person who has an ED, how to find support for yourself, or it could mean sharing your story with others. The fulfilling piece of Eating Disorder Awareness is how it empowers individuals to share their knowledge, ideas, and hope with one another.