Today is the final day of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2018. I’ve been honored to participate this year and I hope you will all join me in continuing the conversation. In our work as advocates for those with eating disorders, there are two vital gifts we can offer: compassion and hope.
How can we offer compassion?
- By expressing concern about someone showing symptoms of disordered eating
- By NOT taking it personally when someone with an eating disorder refuses help (Denial is strong and fear can be overwhelming. Continue to express concern and offer resources and support. But do not make it about you. You may be involved, but it’s not personal.)
- By offering support to those in recovery and truly listening to what they need from us
- By educating ourselves about the factors that underlie eating disorders (some of which include trauma, emotion dysregulation, an invalidating environment, and an insecure or avoidant attachment to a parent figure)
- By NOT saying, “You don’t look like you have an eating disorder” or “You should just eat less” (or “more”, or insert anything after the words “You should just…”)
- By encouraging self-compassion and gentleness when we hear someone speaking negatively about their body
- By reminding ourselves and others that “fat talk” does not help anyone
How can we offer hope?
- By NOT participating in diets, nutritional fads, or dividing up foods into “good” and “bad”
- By calling out (or gently talking with) anyone who uses negative or body-shaming terms
- By writing to legislators and insurance companies to ask for more extensive coverage of residential eating disorder treatment
- By learning about and promoting the “Health At Every Size” movement
- By having conversations with our children about bodies, weight, and shape (e.g., “Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and differing abilities. Everyone is important and has value no matter what shape or size they are or how much they weigh.”)
I would love to hear more suggestions from you. What are you doing (or what will you do) to offer compassion and hope to those around you? “Let’s Get Real”. We can do this together.