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How You Can Help Spread Awareness about Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a serious problem that can have a devastating impact on a person's physical and emotional health. There are many different types of eating disorders, but they all share one common goal: to control the way a person looks and feels by controlling food intake.


Eating disorders are not a phase that someone will automatically outgrow. They’re not simply a choice, either. They are a result of poor body image and societal pressures to look a certain way. These things lead to poor self-esteem and a desire to try to live up to expectations. Eventually, a person is caught in a vicious cycle they cannot get out of (much like any other addiction).


Eating disorders are often misunderstood and shrouded in stigma. Sadly, many times they also go undetected and untreated. This is why it's so important to raise awareness and understanding of these illnesses. When EDs are destigmatized and normalized, it’s more likely that individuals struggling will come forward, seeking help.

Who can develop an eating disorder?


EDs can affect people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Anyone can develop an eating disorder, no matter how "perfect" their life may seem. Millions of people of various ages are affected by eating disorders in the U.S. each year.


Unfortunately, people as young as elementary age can develop an ED. This can be brought on by peer pressure, modeling at home, or by larger environmental influences. Some parents unwittingly expose their children to diet culture and disordered eating while emphasizing that this is the only way they’ll look good. This gets ingrained in children’s still-developing minds.


What can we do to help?


Despite eating disorders being a common mental illness, not enough people are properly educated on the subject. When we don’t fully understand something it is easy to spread false information, which creates confusion and stereotypes. This is why educating yourself on eating disorders is so important. Here are a few pointers:


  1. Educate yourself and those around you.

The most important thing you should do, and it may be the only thing you do, is to educate yourself and those around you. Simply looking about what types of eating disorders are out there and what they look like constitutes educating yourself. Spreading knowledge to others doesn’t have to be blurting out facts about eating disorders at random. You can do so by posting awareness/educational content on social media, simply correcting someone if they are spreading false information, or giving people resources to get help or help someone else.


  1. Volunteer for an eating disorder hotline or awareness/recovery organization.

Volunteering is a great way to get involved and help others. Whether this be volunteering for a helpline, participating in or organizing fundraisers for eating disorder recovery and research, or working with a recovery center or eating disorder awareness organization directly, anytime you get involved, you’re working towards a cause that is near and dear to your heart. These organizations are adept at spreading awareness, but they are always looking for a helping hand. Call a local ED recovery organization to see if they need help or search for a “volunteer” tab on their website.


  1. Ask to hang posters up at your school, place of employment, or other popular places.

Hanging posters up that include information about different resources or eating disorder facts is a great way to educate others and spread awareness. This way, you do not directly have to speak to others or dedicate a specific amount of time to raising awareness. By putting this information in easily accessible and populated places, it is more likely for lots of people to see it.


  1. Attend events and invite others.

Many eating disorder organizations host events to bring people struggling with EDs together. Oftentimes family members are also invited and attend at the discretion of the individual struggling. These educate/raise awareness and raise money for research and treatment centers. Inviting others to attend these events with you is a great way to get them involved and more aware.


  1. Share your story.

This may be difficult but it’s a great way to give others a firsthand account of what it’s like living with an ED. In no way are you ever obligated to tell a bunch of people about your current or past eating habits but doing so helps others feel less alone and more comfortable talking about it.


There are many ways to spread awareness about important issues. One way is to educate yourself and others about the issue. This can be done by reading books, articles, and watching documentaries. Another way to spread awareness is to talk to people about it. This can be done in person or online. You can also raise awareness by sharing your story or the story of someone you know. Finally, you can participate in protests, marches, and other forms of activism. Whatever method you choose, be sure to be respectful and engaging, and don’t overwhelm yourself. This journey should be cathartic, both for you and for others.

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