February 24 – March 1 is National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) week. Did you know that over 20 million women and 10 million men will struggle with an eating disorder (ED) or disordered eating patterns at some point in their life? ED, disordered eating and body dissatisfaction can affect people of all genders, race, ethnicities and socioeconomic status. What may have started out as a quest to “eat healthier” or “lose a few pounds” can turn into obsessive destructive thoughts and actions with serious long term mental and physical health implications. Many people struggling with eating disorders have co-occurring disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and substance abuse. Co-occurring disorders coupled with individual shame often results in ED going unaddressed. There are many social, psychological and biological risk factors such as extreme perfectionism, bullying/teasing about weight, having a close relative with an eating disorder and history of dieting that can contribute to the development of eating disorders.
NEDA WEEK CHALLENGE
Next week I would like to invite you to make a pledge to join me in living “fat talk” or “fat thought” free. Fat talk, also known as negative body talk is statements made in everyday conversation that reinforce the thin ideal, contribute to dissatisfaction with your body and further substantiate a narrow view of beauty. Examples of fat talk include, “Wow did you see that Becky gained some weight?” “I wish that I could be as skinny as you.” “I should get more muscles so I can be more attractive.” “Crop my arms out of that picture they look huge!” These types of comments and thoughts can negatively affect our body image as well as the body image of others around you. Below are a few ways to promote healthy body image
What Can You do?
Don’t compare yourself to others
When you hear those around you talking negatively about their body, gently try to shift the conversation to strength based topics such as positive things that bodies do like get us to work every day, allow you to play soccer with your kids, read books you love etc.
Celebrate the things about yourself and the people in your life that have nothing to do with body image.