During the month of February the importance of speaking up about eating disorders was showcased through National Eating Disorders week. The motivation behind this week was simple: Talking about eating disorders saves lives. The lessons and values of the week are powerful, and they should be held in high regard year round, not only for a week. At Calgary Counselling Centre we have seen first-hand that talking does in fact save lives, and those struggling with food and weight preoccupation should not suffer in silence.
“I see potential for hope and happiness for all experiencing eating disorders, disordered eating, dieting, or dissatisfaction with one’s body or self,” says Jennifer Eld, Eating Disorders Program Lead at the Centre.
The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) suggests that one of the deadliest symptoms of eating disorders is silence. There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding eating disorders, and those who become immersed within them begin to take these for truths. One of these myths is that eating disorders are only prevalent in women, the reality is eating disorders affect men and women of all ages and sizes.
According to a 2002 survey, 1.5% of Canadian women aged 15 – 24 years had an eating disorder. When one becomes preoccupied with their weight and eating habits it can take away from their daily lives, and eventually cause harm. There are many different forms of eating disorders –from over-eating to under-eating – and all are treatable through effective counselling.
Our society has a powerful influence, therefore ones perception of their body can be based upon cultural influences. An example of a cultural factor that can lead to the development of an eating disorder is the false notion of a perfect thin image. This is not reality, and it can be damaging. The reality is that everyone is unique, and one’s body should be embraced rather than over-analyzed.
“Awareness will hopefully decrease the impact of media on the public, or shift media to become more sensitive so media doesn’t glamorize eating disorders,” Jennifer adds.
The first step to recovery from an eating disorder is realizing the damaging effect that food and weight related behaviours are causing. From there one must find the strength to reach out, and start a life-changing conversation. Calgary Counselling is there to help break the silence, and assist those who have momentarily lost their way.