This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, a very touchy week for me.
This year's theme for the 27th annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which is from Feb. 23 to March 1 is "I Had No Idea."
Many people don't have an idea. Eating disorders aren't broadcasted to the public and it isn't something that one is happy about within themselves. The struggle is real.
I was 14 years old when I struggled with bulimia. I don't even remember how I came up with the idea that throwing everything that I ate up could lead me on the path to a skinnier body. I mean, yeah obviously it does-but come on, I was only a 9th grader. How was I already thinking this way? I know how. I constantly was hooked on fashion magazines and wanted to be pencil thin and bullied daily about my thighs.
I remember one day, I binged on a pint of ice cream and immediatelyfelt guilty so I went and threw it all up. That was only the beginning... I would only eat foods such as cereal, ice cream, or other foods with soft textures because those were the easiest to purge out of my system. What started as something to do here and there eventually became a daily battle that I was secretly fighting behind my bathroom doors. The monster grew and it grew and I hated myself and my body more and more.
I struggled with it for years until I decided to fight to love myself. I didn't want to die- I wanted to win this battle and to get healthy-the right way. And so I did. But, that isn't always the case for everyone.
As many as 65 percent of eating disorder sufferers cite the effects of size and weight bullying as the root of where their struggle began. Someone comments, "hey, you look a little heavier these days" or "did you gain weight?" Sure, the comments are not totally hateful, but they stick with you and the more you let them bother you, the more likely you are to turn to a quick and negative solution. Growing up, I heard these things and it really affected me. My weight would fluctuate and someone whom I was very close to would always find a way of pointing that out to me.
And according to the NedaAwareness site, Americans get many mixed messages about health—and many of those messages are far from healthy. We hear about the virtues of "good" foods and the evils of the “bad” ones. Our national fixation on weight loss has resulted in $60 billion in profits for the diet industry – an industry whose products and weight loss plans are often the catalyst to an eating disorder.
Research shows that 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting and of those, 20-25% continue on to develop partial or full-syndrome eating disorders (Shisslak, Crago, & Estes, 1995).
What people don't get is that disordered eating can occur in any one-it does not matter if you are obese, fat, thin, athletic, curvy, or a size 0. You have zero idea of another's battles going on within themselves. Instead of poking at ones weight or looks, let's redirect and focus on healthy and mentally, physically, and emotionally fit.
Notice how it does not mention size... anywhere...
If you know of anyone whom might have an eating disorder, do your best to be supportive. You cannot fight or win their battles for them, but you can help and be their mental positive affirmation.
I wished that I would've had a friend at the time to just tell me that I was okay. That I was fine. That I was perfect just the way that I was.
Here are some signs of a possible eating disorder to be on the lookout for:
- Disappearing after eating
- Avoiding food altogether
- Pale Complexion
- Strange eating habits
- Extreme Dieting
If you are concerned for yourself, a friend or family member, you can take a free, anonymous online screening for eating disorders at MyBodyScreening.org.
And find more information at MyNeda.org.
Sometimes, today, I still struggle with my looks. But I am so happy to say that I have overcome my body dysmorphia and am happier than ever.
To read more about how I overcame my disorder and how I am doing today, click the image below: