What’s There To Love About Eating Disorder Awareness?

Whether it’s a sitcom, music or food, people love to love things and share them with others. It’s how we connect. If you need proof you can visit www.yelp.com for some very loving, opinionated, picky eaters. Some of our loves have become so deep that we have claimed February as the month of commemorating them. The first Saturday of the month the love of football and beer is honored with The Super Bowl. The love of each other and watching children transform shoeboxes into ‘mailboxes’ is celebrated on Valentine’s Day. Then there is the love of recovery, Eating Disorder Awareness Week. February 20th– 26th to be exact.

Maybe like me you’re wondering, can you really call eating disorder recovery and awareness something people “love”? Love is a strong word. I didn’t understand the passion behind awareness until I discovered the passion others have for promoting eating disorders. And people are passionate…

Exhibit A: Magazines

Exhibit A: Magazines

Exhibit B: Diet Pills

Exhibit B: Diet Pills

Exhibit C: Sexy Halloween Costumes

Exhibit C: Sexy Halloween Costumes

So now that you’re depressed and ready to move to a remote island in the Bahamas, I’d like to ask you to do one thing. Don’t. Don’t run away from this problem. Use the muscle you could use to pack and instead prevent the problem by bringing awareness to this issue. The whole idea of awareness is that we may be an awesome country of wealth and higher education, but the majority is pretty dumb on what eating disorders are, the sociological impact, what they look like, how to prevent them and how to stop them. The people who created those ads are just trying to make a living. It isn’t their fault that they aren’t educated. It’s actually our fault. If you have experienced an eating disorder, have a child with one or are simply someone that genuinely cares about how we value people on this earth than it’s your job to use the knowledge you have and share it with those who don’t.

But where do we start? I say, start by just TALKING.

  • Share – Have you ever been in a conversation where a bunch of girls are talking about dieting or how unattractive they are? If you can hear within a 2 foot radius you most likely have. Here’s a thought, why don’t you share a little bit about your experience with an eating disorder? You don’t have to blow your whole dramatic story, but you could simply just say, “I personally don’t diet. I struggled many years with an eating disorder. I learned that diets don’t work or make me happy. I have spent so much of my life hating myself, I want to spend the rest of my life loving myself and making up for the time I lost” Then pause. Take a deep breath and be quiet. Most likely you’ll inspire others to question their own diets and motives. This has always turned into some great conversations for me.
  • Drop– Maybe talking just isn’t your thing. How about dropping off fliers and information about eating disorder support groups in your local high school, college and doctors office. It’s amazing how many people go untreated because they are unaware of the services provided to them. Get some brochures here and go drop some recovery on your city.

Once you mastered TALKING you can move into INVITING…

· Meetings – As a woman I hear a lot of gossip. Kind of goes with the lower organs I guess. I hear about young teens that are purging, co-workers who are binging and so on and so forth. A difficult, but powerful thing I have learned to do is to first of all stop the gossip by asking the women around me, “How can we help her?” They usually don’t know. I then suggest, “Maybe I could invite her to an eating disorder recovery meeting. What do you girls thing?” I admit it is difficult to approach someone about their eating disorder, but I wouldn’t have recovery if someone didn’t take the initiative to awkwardly suggest I go to a meeting myself.  Overeaters Anonymous has meetings all over the world. If you would like to take someone to one of these meetings I highly suggest them.

· Mentoring – Those of us that have recovery never would have been given it unless someone else took the time to teach us the tools of the trade. How to get abstinent from our eating disorder and how to stay abstinent. If you have recovery, consider mentoring girls younger than you. Talk to them about them about values, confidence and what being a woman is all about. Your experience is a lot more valuable than you probably give yourself credit for.

After you have the INVITING down you might have a ton of people who are amped on recovery and want to GATHER together for the same cause. Awesome! I would suggest that you all do one of the following:

·Walk– The National Eating Disorder Association promotes fundraising walks to give people the opportunity to raise awareness and money for eating disorder prevention and research. If you would like to spread more awareness and recovery within your local community a walk is an awesome way to go! Find more details on planning a walk here.

·Video– For you creative aficionados out there. The National Eating Disorder Association is looking for a new Public Service Announcement created by cool, recovering peeps like you. What you do is create a PSA Video and submit it into a contest. If you win your PSA Video gets broadcast by NEDA across YouTube and you get a free trip to New York and are able to attend the NEDA fundraiser. Get your inner Spielberg out and start creating. Details here. But, please no E.T. looking, anorexic girls….so played out.

Whether you speak up about your own eating disorder or hit the streets with your video camera, I hope you do one thing within the next couple of weeks. Acknowledge your recovery. Think about where you have started and where you are now. Whether or not you have 20 years of recovery or 20 minutes, be AWARE that your life, your existence is not an accident. Thank you for choosing to use your existence for the cause of living, helping others and leaving this world a better place than it was before you got here.

Happy Recovery,

Irvina

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