This week is NEDA (national eating disorder awareness) week. This week is all about talking about eating disorders and helping to break the stigma surrounding them. Approximately 1.6 million people suffer from an eating disorder (either diagnosed or undiagnosed).
What is anorexia?
One of the most dangerous eating disorders is anorexia nervosa. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate, with 1 in 5 sufferers dying. The cases of people being diagnosed each year is rising and the people affected are as young as 7 years old. It is extremely important that eating disorders are talked about openly so that those suffering feel that they can reach out for help if they need it. Unfortunately over half of the people who suffer from an eating disorder do not get the help that they need.
Many people wrongly assume that eating disorders are all about restrictive eating patterns and being dangerously underweight but there are so many other sides to it that appear to have much less awareness and understanding!
Ceri is in recovery from an eating disorder
Ceri was diagnosed with an eating disorder when she was 19, that was triggered just after her mum passed away. Her diagnosis was EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) which essentially means that she fell into a few categories of eating disorders but didn’t strictly follow the symptoms of a specific one.
Her eating pattern consisted of binging, restricting and purging. It was a relentless battle that led to her gaining a lot of weight, mainly due to comfort eating whilst trying to deal with the grief of losing her Mum. She would then lose a few pounds, gain it back and the pattern would just repeat itself in what seemed like a never ending battle! She said that this led to her self esteem being at rock bottom, body image was awful and she was just generally so unhappy within herself.
Many people assume that when you’re overweight it just means that you’re lazy, unhealthy or lack any type of control when it comes to food but there’s a lot of ignorance surrounding the psychological battle that goes alongside it. Ceri lost a lot of weight in the last year with the help of a gastric sleeve and it’s something that she is incredibly grateful for, but it was a last resort to try and live a normal & healthy life and it was by no means “the easy way out”.
She had countless therapy sessions, food/meal plans, nutritional sessions and an inpatient stay at a psychiatric hospital to try and help her deal with the psychological side of this and although she is doing much better now, it’s still an issue that she has to deal with every day.
You never really know how well someone is coping, and you should make sure to always be kind to others. It could be said that If you don't have anything nice to say, your probably best off not saying anything at all because you don't know what battles others are quietly fighting and surviving on their own.
Up next: How to get food portion sizes right