NATIONAL EATING DISORDER AWARENESS WEEK FEB. 22-28, 2021
It’s #NEDAwareness Week! At Valley Youth House, our Youth Education Program (YEP) is collaborating with The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) to invite ‘Every Body to Have a Seat at the Table’ by encouraging conversations that raise awareness, challenge systemic biases, and highlight stories from all backgrounds and experiences.
- Join us and wear blue and green on Friday to bring awareness to eating disorders! Send selfies to econners@ValleyYouthHouse.org or tag Valley Youth House on social media for a chance to be featured on our pages.
- Check out our Valley Youth House social media all week long for #NEDAwareness Week, #edrecovery, and #bodyinclusive information.
- Each secondary school in Lehigh County will receive a packet on information on eating disorder prevention, including adult coloring books called “Color Me Body Positive”
WHAT ARE EATING DISORDERS?
Eating disorders are serious but treatable mental and physical illnesses that can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights. National surveys estimate that 20 million women and 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives.
While no one knows for sure what causes eating disorders, a growing consensus suggests that it is a range of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. The chance for recovery increases the earlier an eating disorder is detected.
WARNING SIGNS OF AN EATING DISORDER
Emotional and behavioral:
- In general, behaviors and attitudes that indicate that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns
- Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, carbohydrates, fat grams, and dieting
- Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g., no carbohydrates, etc.)
- Appears uncomfortable eating around others
- Food rituals (e.g. eats only a particular food or food group [e.g. condiments], excessive chewing, doesn’t allow foods to touch)
- Skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals
- Any new practices with food or fad diets, including cutting out entire food groups (no sugar, no carbs, no dairy, vegetarianism/veganism)
- Withdrawal from usual friends and activities
- Frequent dieting
- Extreme concern with body size and shape
- Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance
- Extreme mood swings
- Noticeable fluctuations in weight, both up and down
- Stomach cramps, other non-specific gastrointestinal complaints (constipation, acid reflux, etc.)
- Menstrual irregularities — missing periods or only having a period while on hormonal contraceptives (this is not considered a “true” period)
- Difficulties concentrating
- Abnormal laboratory findings (anemia, low thyroid and hormone levels, low potassium, low white and red blood cell counts)
- Dizziness, especially upon standing
- Feeling cold all the time
- Sleep problems
- Cuts and calluses across the top of finger joints (a result of inducing vomiting)
- Dental problems, such as enamel erosion, cavities, and tooth sensitivity
- Dry skin and hair, and brittle nails
- Swelling around area of salivary glands
- Fine hair on body (lanugo)
- Cavities, or discoloration of teeth, from vomiting
- Muscle weakness
- Yellow skin (in context of eating large amounts of carrots)
- Cold, mottled hands and feet or swelling of feet
- Poor wound healing
- Impaired immune functioning
Keep in mind that these symptoms are not intended to be used as a checklist. Someone struggling with an eating disorder generally won’t have all of these signs and symptoms all at once, and the warning signs vary across eating disorders and don’t always fit into neat categories. Rather, these lists are intended as a general overview of the types of behaviors that may indicate a problem.
If you have concerns that a friend, peer, or loved one may be struggling with an eating disorder, please encourage them to check out NEDA’s Online Confidential Screening Tool. This screening tool is not diagnostic, but evaluates thoughts & behaviors that may be associated with eating disorders. Local resources are then generated for each user.
The NEDA has a helpline for individuals with eating disorders. Trained volunteers are available to assist in locating resources for anyone who may be struggling with an eating disorder. All calls, chats, and texts are confidential. The click to chat function or texting is available if you prefer instant messaging the Helpline instead of speaking to a volunteer over the phone.
One way you can help prevent children from developing eating disorders is to encourage them to love their bodies! Build their self-esteem by reminding them that they are unique, beautiful, and perfect just the way they are! Here is an article about helping youth to love their bodies!
About VYH’s Youth Education Program (YEP): The Youth Education Program for the Prevention of Destructive Decisions provides school and community-based prevention and education services to Lehigh Valley youth. The program operates with the belief that substance abuse, violence, and other self-destructive behaviors can be prevented through alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) education coupled with life skills training.
Questions? Contact Ashley Dallas, VYH Supervisor of School-Based Services at adallas@ValleyYouthHouse.org or 267-930-4092