Since this week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week, I have decided to step a little out of the box with this blog post. Americans are becoming more and more obsessed with health/fitness/dieting. I wish I could say Americans are obsessed with “dieting” because they are concerned for their health, but unfortunately that is usually not the case. Generally, people just want to be “skinny”. You don’t have to go very far to see why Americans idolize the skinny and there is shame associated with being overweight instead of focusing on being healthy. Just flip through some magazines or watch a couple television ads. There are even several billboards where I live in Texas with statements about being skinnier.
So it is not surprising that according to NEDA, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from clinically diagnosed eating disorders at some point in their life. And even if people have not been officially diagnosed with an eating disorder, many other people do have a disordered eating pattern of some sort that they struggle with.
Eating disorders can have a negative impact on a person’s health and can even cause death. Other health concerns include increase risk for heart failure, osteoporosis, muscle loss, weakness, dehydration, kidney failure, tooth decay, peptic ulcers, electrolyte imbalance, low/high blood pressure and several other health concerns.
You cannot always tell that a person has an eating disorder/disordered eating just from looking at them. They may even be really good at hiding it from people such as you.This is why promoting Eating Disorder Awareness Week is so important!
So I have come up with a list of 5 ways to help you and help others….
- Eat for your health
When choosing foods for yourself and your family, choose foods that are nutritious for you and will provide you with the vitamins, minerals, and energy you need to fuel your body. Focus on how you can fuel your body and not on your weight.
- Eat Balanced
For the normal healthy adult, there is not one food that I would say you can never ever have. You should eat well balanced meals, but all foods can be included in your diet. For more information visit www.myplate.gov or follow my blog for more updates!
- Eat Mindfully
Eating mindfully basically means that you focus on your physical hunger cues and eating for your health. Watch my blog for future posts on being a more mindful eater.
- Stop the “Diet” Talk
You don’t know what the people around you are struggling with. If you are sharing a meal with someone who suffers from an eating disorder and you make a comment about how “unhealthy” the food is or discuss the latest “diet” that you are on then you could cause that person to really stumble and give into his or her eating disorder thoughts.
- Take the Focus Off of Food
Think about your last celebration, birthday party, and holiday or even work party. Did it involve food? Most likely you answered yes. Our society is obsessed with food. Try to spend time with friends, families and co-workers doing activities that do not involve food or talking about food. Here are some ideas for activities that do not focus on food:
- Watch a movie
- Play a game
- Take a walk
- Go to the zoo, aquarium, museum, etc.
- Read a book
- Go to a sporting event
- Have a discussion (not about food!)
For more information on eating disorders please see the links below.