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“It’s Time to Talk About It,” this years theme for National Eating Disorder Awareness week. This week February 20th – 26th, is designed to bring awareness to an illness so many of us have come to know as an eating disorder. I can’t think of a more appropriate theme.  Because it is time……time for me as an individual, as a mother and as a citizen…….to Talk About IT!”

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with eating disorders (ED), let’s take a look at just a few statistics.

* More than 10 million women and another one million men and children in the U.S. alone suffer from eating disorder.

* Six and seven year old children are being diagnosed with eating disorders

* 81% of ten year olds are afraid of being fat

* 85% of eating disorders start between the ages of 14 and 20

* 90% of high school girls diet regularly

* Approximately 30% of college students suffer with eating disorders.
(The numbers are even higher in sororities). It is no longer “a female” problem.

* Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychological condition

* 10% of individuals with anorexia die and many are not under weight when they die

* 75% of women recently surveyed admitted to having an unhealthy relationship with food and their bodies. (The men just haven’t been surveyed yet!)

(Statistics taken from The COEDS project.)

Dear readers, those statistics alone confirm why “It’sTime to Talk about It!”

Girls Form their Body Image after their Mom’s

Years ago, we received a call from the school counselor who was concerned because our junior high daughter was not eating lunch at school.  She mentioned eating disorders.  I immediately took this daughter to our health care provider.  She felt like our daughter was pre-eating disorder, if there is such a thing!  There was one thing  she said that day which has not only been branded in my mind; but unfortunately lived out in my life.  The health provider stated that “our girls form their body images after their mom’s own  body image.”

I am a 48 year old woman who has come to realize my girls unhealthy body image comes from years of watching and hearing their mom talk about her own unhealthy body image.  The daughter I mentioned earlier did not develop a full blown eating disorder.  However, we have another daughter who did. Our daughter was diagnosed with EDNOS, and spent two months at Remuda Ranch in Arizona for treatment of this illness.  EDNOS is an acronym for an eating disorder not otherwise specified.  According to the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), this is a classification of disordered eating that falls outside of the criteria for Anorexia, Binge Eating and Bulimia.

Possible contributors to an Eating Disorder:

An Eating disorder is a complex illness in which a lot of contributing factors play into why a person develops one. And I am not stating that my own body image issues were the sole reason our daughter struggled with an eating disorder.  However, one can’t dismiss the fact that it did play into the way she felt about her own body.

If interested in contributing factors, click here for a list of psychological, interpersonal, social and biological factors relating to the development of an eating disorder.

Warning signs and symptoms

All three of our daughters and their friends went through a period of time when they seem obsessed with weight and dieting. So, the day I received a returned letter with money and change in it, which our daughter had sent for diet pills; didn’t alarm me.  It wasn’t until the restricting of food started that I became concerned.  She had always been a picky eater, but it went beyond being picky.  It didn’t matter what was served, she began to not eat. After learning more about eating disorders when we were at Remuda, looking back our daughter displayed many more of the tell tale symptoms.  Perhaps we were just to much in denial to initially see them.

A list of noticeable signs and symptoms of ED’s can be found at the something-fishy.org website, or click here.

Need help?

If you, or someone you love is struggling with an Eating disorder.  I sincerely encourage you to step out of the denial and seek help. As more people have becoming willing to talk about them and use their knowledge to educate, more help is available for those with ED’s.

If you don’t know where to start, here are a few website resources.

National Eating Disorder Association www.nationaleatingdisorder.org

Something-Fishy                                      www.something-fishy.net

Finding Balance – Faith based site         www.findingbalance.com

Another resource is the parents, family and friends network (PFN)  through National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). PFN has a network of trained volunteers, NEDA Navigators are people who have been there. Not professionals in the field, but individuals, families and friends who have navigated through the complexity of this illness and the treatment possibilities.  For support and information contact a NEDA Navigator in your state by clicking here. Or email me at bridgits@pfn.nationaleatingdisorders.org .

As we wrap up this post and this years National Eating Disorder Awareness Week remember “It’s Time to Talk About It.”

****Both my daughter and I are available to speak on our experience with body image issues and Eating Disorders.  We are available to speak to schools, youth groups at church, girl scout groups, MOPS groups, and other women organizations.  Our contact information is listed in the speakers section on the National Eating Disorder Association website or you may contacting me at the email listed above or leave your contact information as a comment.  And remember “It is Time to Talk about IT!