BY: Christine Peat, PhD
DATE: 9 March 2018
The National Eating Disorders Association encourages awareness, conversation, and involvement in eating disorders activism and outreach. Every spring, the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness) is an opportunity to focus a national discussion on the importance of identifying, treating, and preventing eating disorders and to provide resources for these often stigmatized and underdiagnosed conditions. The NEDAwareness Week 2018 (February 26th – March 4th) theme was “Let’s Get Real” with the goal of expanding the conversation about eating disorders to highlight stories that are not always heard. For example, stereotypes about how eating disorders present (i.e., in thin, white, female bodies) often prevent individuals from seeking the treatment they need. Many individuals who do not fit this profile may not be screened for eating disorder symptoms and/or may not reach out for help if they need it. This year’s NEDAwareness Week theme reminds us that stigma and erroneous stereotypes prevent people from seeking help, and NEDA encourages us to bust myths to help get people screened and into treatment.
NEDAwareness Week 2018 encouraged individuals to get involved and stay involved—after all, eating disorder awareness and advocacy are essential and relevant year-round. If you want to join these efforts, here are a few ways to get started:
- Take the NEDAwareness Quiz. This quiz is designed to assess your thoughts and feelings about food, body image, exercise, and social media. It also allows you to learn about what perspectives others have on these same issues and will hopefully generate meaningful discussion about the influence these factors have on our daily lives.
- Get Screened: Last year, NEDA launched their free and confidential online screening for eating disorders and this screening tool has been lauded as an important resource for those who might be questioning whether they are dealing with disordered eating thoughts or behaviors. Participants are connected with a volunteer at the end of the quiz who can help funnel identified individuals toward crucial treatment.
- Get Connected: NEDA has Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter accounts that you can follow to join the conversation. You can share the Faces of Recovery video and stories which help remind everyone that although eating disorders do not discriminate based on age, race, weight, or socioeconomic status, recovery is possible with appropriate treatment and the consistent support of loved ones.
- Get Active: You can attend or host a NEDA Walk, host an eating disorder screening in your area, advocate for legislative change, join the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC), give a talk on eating disorders, and more!
Although NEDAwareness Week may technically be over, let’s have 2018 be NEDAwareness Year! “Let’s get real” and challenge common myths and stereotypes about eating disorders, have real conversations about how food, body image, and exercise affect our lives, and increase awareness of how eating disorders can affect anyone regardless of gender, age, or race and ethnicity. With your help, NEDAwareness 2018 has the potential to be an inclusive movement with the power to make a significant, positive change in the lives of those affected by eating disorders.