My favorite thing about Eating Disorder Awareness Week is that for one week, people are talking about eating disorders in a way that inspires hope for change.  At the end of every February, everywhere I look I see posts about the prevalence, the symptoms, the experience of having an eating disorder, and what we can do to prevent the development of these conditions.  And then we go back to the status quo – the silence, the barrage of diet and wellness information coming at us, the weight stigmatization and the anti-fat bias.  

So what can you do after EDAW to continue to work toward eating disorder awareness and prevention? A LOT! Here are my ideas:

  • Be aware of the messages that you come across on a daily basis about the need to change bodies, lose weight, improve something, and food as good and bad. Notice these messages, label them, and challenge yourself to ask: Why? Says Wh? Is that really so?
  • Practice enjoying food and eating for the taste, the experience, the nourishment, the fuel, the social connection. Pleasure, satisfaction and joy are vital human needs.
  • Do not comment, especially negatively, on your own body and on the bodies of others. Instead, focus on internal qualities and values. Appreciate and celebrate yourself and others for uniqueness and strengths. Stop talking about bodies negatively!
  • Practice gratitude – what do you have in your life that you are grateful for and appreciate? Focus on the things your body can do and what your body allows you to experience and enjoy. Take care of your physical self. Stop trying to control bodies and rather practice accepting and appreciating them!
  • Curate your social media feeds and consider your social media activity with intentionality. What and who resonates with your own values and priorities? What and who lights you up and is inspiring? What is causing negativity and what can you eliminate? 
  • Work on identifying and coping with your own emotions and experiences. If we can more effectively regulate our own systems we will have less need to compare to others, rely on food and body to make us feel good, and value external over internal.
  • Find others (individuals and communities) who share your values and are working to reject the idea that size and appearance are more important than physical and emotional health. There is power in numbers and in community. We can’t do this work alone, we need to join with others who share our passion and our mission.

Diet culture, achievement culture and the age of anxiety are wreaking havoc on the mental health of kids, teens and adults. Join me today and take action to address the rise of eating disorders.