When my family first realized that I had a problem with food and weight, they were really confused. My parents were frightened because they did not quite understand what anorexia was. I mean, my father knew about eating disorders from his practice, but he did not have much experience with it. Needless to say, both of my parents were shocked that I had ED.
My culture - one from the Middle East - is BIG on food. Every occasion includes big fancy meals and dishes. If a guest comes over, the best thing you can do for them is to feed them. If you do not eat a meal at a friend's house, you are being 'disrespectful'. If you do not offer people food when they come over, you are being a bad host. Your host will continuously offer you food, a drink, or even a snack until you say yes. And when you say no, they will keep pestering you until you agree. If you do not agree to something, they will most likely get you something anyways! The fact is that eating disorders are not as commonly reported in Middle Eastern countries. Notice that I said reported. Studies like http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8178219 show that although many people suffer with eating disorders in these countries, they typically are afraid to admit it because of how the culture will react.
So, you can see how confusing and well - weird - it was when it was found that I had anorexia. A Middle-Eastern person, having a problem with food? How? Why?
My parents soon educated themselves about eating disorders. They went to creditable websites to learn all that they could. NEDIC - National Eating Disorder Information Centre (http://www.nedic.ca/) is a great place to start. They educated themselves as much as they could. Of course, it is important that not everything you read about eating disorders applies to all patients. But, the standard symptoms (starvation, low self-esteem, body image distortions, etc) are usually present in most victims.
After my family learned about anorexia, it was easier for them to understand what I was going through. It did not make my illness any less-threatening, but it certainly helped them to see why I was afraid of food, why I was acting the way I was, and why I was so resistant to getting help.
Regardless of what culture you are from, I think it is pretty safe to say that not many people know a lot about eating disorders. I suppose this is a main reason why I am writing this blog - I want people to know about ED, to learn about it, and to see how debilitating it is for patients. I pray that this blog helps people to, in turn, help others with ED - or help prevent ED from controlling others.
**As a side note, here are some useful websites that may have information you'd like to read about eating disorders**
1) National Eating Disorder Centre: http://www.nedic.ca/
2) Canadian Mental Health Association: ttp://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/eating-disorders/
3) Eating Disorder Foundation of Canada: http://www.edfofcanada.com/mission.php
4) Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders (this page leads you to worldwide links about eating disorders) : http://www.feasted.org/LocalSupport/AdvocacyandSupportOrganizations.aspx