“I had no idea that the ‘perfect’ images I see every day are digital illusions.”
“I had no idea that my passion became my problem.”
“I had no idea that bullying can trigger an eating disorder.”
“I had no idea that my quest for health was making me sick.”
“I had no idea that eating disorders don’t discriminate.”
“I had no idea…” This is the theme for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which is February 22-28 (this week!)
I have gone through most of my life being fairly thin. But that does not mean my weight has never been an issue, at least not in a traditional sense… I’ve heard the words “You’re so thin, you need to eat!” probably more times in my life than I care to count. I know those saying this to me had good intentions (and for the record, I always ate just fine…), however the underlying connotation of hearing this so often drilled it into my brain that I had to be thin!
By the time I got to college, however, that thin frame I had always had started to get more “womenly” curves. Jeans I’d always worn didn’t fit the same. Shirts began feeling a little too small. My size was changing, and this was a very tough pill to swallow.
I began feeling very self-conscious in a body I had always felt so comfortable in. I began blaming my bad days on my physical appearance. I even convinced myself that getting into better shape could save my near-the-end relationship of 6 years. So I began following a strict diet plan, committed to intense workout routines, and took fat burning supplements.
Looking at me, would you have thought I needed to loose weight? Most likely not! I was a healthy weight for my height (honestly, probably underweight according to BMI standards.) In fact, I was still hearing that “You’re so thin!” spiel. But to me, the way my body looked was not acceptable. To me, I was no longer “thin,” as I had always been.
I was constantly comparing myself to pictures I saw it the health and fitness magazines I religiously read (because I was on a journey towards “health” after all.) But just as that first quote demonstrates, these pictures of “perfect” bodies were just setting me up for more self-criticism.
Then one day I realized that this journey I had been on towards “health” had been completely skewed! I stopped taking all those supplements, got out of that toxic relationship, traded in my dumbbells for a yoga mat, and stopped shaming myself whenever I “overate.”
Today, I am thankful for my health, and I love my body for all of the incredible things it does for me! I have learned that it really is my best friend, not my worst enemy! Are there still times I feel a little insecure? Do those thoughts come crawling through my mind every now and then? Sure, but not for long!
Now, my case would have be more “disordered eating” than an eating disorder, and thankfully I had an amazing support system to help it from escalating any further. Nonetheless, disordered eating is just as significant as an eating disorder, and it is important that we are aware of the signs for both cases!
Which is why there is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week! So we can bring awareness to help the millions of people struggling with issues of body image. To help the “20 million women and 10 million men that suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.” And according to the ANAD, 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 19 and 25!!
95% of these people are college-aged! Not adolescents. Not dealing with the trials and tribulations of high school. College-aged, young adults. Just like I was when I began feeling so insecure and developing a negative relationship with food!
Although, this is not to say you shouldn’t be on the lookout for signs of eating disorders at any age. As the quote above says, “eating disorders do not discriminate.” Any person, any size, any social class, any age, any background. We are all susceptible. I was even a nutrition major, so you would’ve thought I’d known better! But none of us are immune to poor body image.
So what can you do?
For You: Feeling crumby about your body right now? Write down the top 10 things you love about yourself, that are not related to how you look! Keep it by your desk or tape it to your mirror so it is always there to remind you how much you rock!
For Your Friends: Become a voice of positivism among your friends, and put a stop to group body shaming (you know that scene in Mean Girls..)
For Others: Visit NEDAwareness.org for ways to get involved in National Eating Disordered Awareness Week!
Also be sure check out the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in Forest Park! It will be lit in green and blue in honor of NEDAwareness week!!
Think you may be suffering from an eating disorder or disordered eating? Take this survey!
Also be sure to check out my personal health blog, The Wholey Trinity, or follow me on Instagram or Twitter!
What will you be doing to help promote awareness for NEDAwareness Week?