I wanted to write a little about National Eating Disorders Awareness Week because I have suffered from an eating disorder. I struggled with anorexia as a teen and then again a few years back, though not nearly bad the 2nd time. After recovering from my battle as a teen, I never knew that this was a battle that I would have to fight my entire life. I will win this war.
My struggle started innocently enough. I was a gymnast & I always believed, the littler, the better in the sport of gymnastics. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was trying to defy my genes. I was 13 and starting to develop & grow & I was doing everything in my power to thwart that. I cut my calories way back. I was eating approximately 500 calories/day. After a year or so, I ended up under 100 lbs (at 5′ 7″). I was dangerously thin. I really don’t know how I let it get so bad. I just wanted to lose one more pound. I would lose that pound & then lose just one more. It spiraled out of control.
My Mom took me to a doctor & with threats of being put into the hospital, I slowly began to eat. It wasn’t nearly as easy as one who hasn’t suffered from an eating disorder would think. My stomach was not acclimated to having much food in it at one time. I had to really concentrate on eating calorie dense foods. I was also scared of getting fat. My body image was very, very distorted. I eventually gained the weight back over time – about a year or so. In my later teenage years I looked back on that time & wondered how I ever starved myself, as I love food way too much.
Fast forward to my early 30′s. Hannah was 2 or 3 and I was still carrying around an extra 10 or so pounds (those pounds were in my eyes – I was a healthy weight). I started the South Beach Diet to lose a few pounds before going to the beach & that was enough of a trigger to get me in trouble. I did not cut calories as severely, but I had “rules” about what foods I would eat. I manipulated my diet to where I would lose weight – slowly. It didn’t help that this was pre-Celiac and food just made me feel sick in general. Before I got down to a scary weight, my doctor intervened. I sought counseling & learned to watch for certain “red flags” so that I could identify unhealthy behaviors. I have since gained back what I lost and maintain a healthy weight. One way I help keep my focus on being a healthy weight is knowing that I have to fuel myself properly to have the energy that I need to run.
I am now aware that anorexia doesn’t go away. It isn’t like an illness that is cured. It is something I will need to be aware of & on top of for the rest of my life. I know that I have these tendencies and I know what red flags I need to watch out for. I used restricting food as a method of control. Controlling my food intake gave me a strange sense of calm when everything else around me was chaotic. Now that I know that, I take steps to avoid it.
Here is some great information from the National Eating Disorders website:
The mission of NEDAwareness Week
Our aim of NEDAwareness Week is to ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment. Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses — not choices — and it’s important to recognize the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that shape the disorder.
How NEDAwareness Week Works
This year, NEDA is calling for everyone to do just one thing to help raise awareness and provide accurate information about eating disorders. NEDAwareness Week participants can choose from a huge range of ways to contribute: Distribute info pamphlets and put up posters, write one letter for Media Watchdogs, register as a Volunteer Speaker or host a Volunteer Speaker, coordinate a NEDA Walk, or arrange interactive and educational activities such as panel discussions, fashion shows, body fairs, movie screenings, art exhibits and more. As an official NEDAwareness Week participant you can be involved in any way that works with your schedule, resources, community, and interests. These events and activities attract public media attention – on local, national and international levels.
I saw a post last week on Oh She Glows by Angela regarding sizes in clothing. Writing “Size Healthy” over all the number sizes in our clothing is a fantastic idea! While it is too late to enter Angela’s contest, it isn’t too late to tag your clothing tags with “Size Healthy”. I may have to get my sharpie out this evening & visit my closet.