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National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

February 24, 2024

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Next week marks National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I think every week should be eating disorder awareness week due to the thousands of patients and families who suffer through this insidious disease. A comment, an action, or a documentary can trigger a thought that creates a desire for control. Trauma, comparison, or negative body image can also start the cycle of self harm. Self harm includes restriction, binging, purging, and extreme hatred of the body, a vessel we should be proud of as it allows us to enjoy life experiences. 

The celebration of diet culture in the United States needs to take responsibility for their part in Eating Disorders. Luckily TikTok and Meta have admitted to their part in driving disordered eating images and thoughts to people’s for you pages during the pandemic. Now it’s time for anyone who is in a position that teaches, coaches, or models behaviors to understand how they can either foster positive relationships with food and body or play a role in disordered eating.

It’s the division one college coach who tells their swimmers that they don’t need to eat as much because they aren’t swimming the same amount during break. It’s the high school health teacher who talks negatively about their own body and celebrates weight loss with intermittent fasting to their ninth grade class.  It’s the pediatrician who tells the middle schooler that they are obese because they have a high BMI. Never mind the fact that they have high lean muscle mass and are about to hit a growth spurt in height.  It’s the gym that talks about weight and weight loss instead of staying in their lane and focusing on form, performance and recovery. It’s the parent who is unhappy with their own body so they constantly talk about sugar, desserts, and treats. The more their child hears this the more they feel judgement from their parent.  All of these things have happened to my patients within the week alone. I have seen thousands of patients with thousands of examples like this. 

This week I’d like more people to take action. Start challenging diet culture.  If you hear something challenge it. If you see something challenge it.  A simple question such as where did you hear that or what evidence supports that can go a long way. If that doesn’t feel comfortable a statement such as I seek that information out from professionals is just as fine. We can make a change if we’re dedicated to the cause.