February is ED awareness month!

Many people are unaware of the fact that February is eating disorder awareness month. Although we need to think about how to help those with ED all year round, this month is especially dedicated to eating disorders.

In honour of this month, I want to share some things with those who are suffering from an eating disorder. Regardless of what type of eating disorder you have, these top ten ‘tips’ are worth reading.

1) ED is NOT you fault. Maybe you started off by dieting, but you did not mean for it to go this far. Or maybe you were just a little hungry and sad and decided to eat too much. Perhaps the hype with weight loss got to you. Maybe your peers or family teased you because of your weight. Whatever the reason, this does not mean that you ‘made’ yourself have an eating disorder. Know this one thing: you should not be blaming yourself for this illness.

 2) ED is a MENTAL illness. No one chooses to have a mental illness, but when you have it, it needs treatment. Do not ignore your symptoms because you feel as though you are not ‘sick enough’ or do not quite meet the criteria to be formally diagnosed with an eating disorder. It is a mental condition, like many other issues. Therefore, you should not feel ashamed of it, nor should others ever criticize you for your illness. Ignore the stigma behind mental illnesses – people who stigmatize are uninformed.

 3) You deserve HELP. All people with ED, no matter what kind, deserve to get treatment. You have the right to get help – whatever that may mean to you. Perhaps you need a dietician to help meal plan, or maybe you simply need to speak to a therapist. Maybe you need to see a doctor who specializes in eating disorders. Regardless of what you need, know that you deserve to get the help that will make you feel better. It is available – you just need to search for it.

 4) RELAPSES happen. We aren’t perfect. While a relapse may seem .like the end of the world, it really isn’t. Recovering from an eating disorder is a lot of work – so expect to be challenged along the way. But know that if you make a mistake or go back to ED, it does not mean that you have failed. It simply means that you need to get yourself back up and keep pushing. Fighting an eating disorder is truly difficult; thus, do not be angry when you slip up. Acknowledge that you are human and learn from your mistake. It will make you stronger.

 5) Some of it really is about the FOOD. Although not all parts of the eating disorder is about the food, a great portion of it is. Whether you are fighting with bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating disorder, food does play an important role. Perhaps you are eating too little – or maybe too much. Regardless, you do need to solve the issues with the food. We all need food to survive – and it is good! Wherever the issue with food is, be sure to resolve it. If you need to eat more (ex. anorexia), start out small but be sure to increase. If you are eating too much (binge), try to distract yourself from mindlessly eating and learn why it is that you eat this way.

 6) Love your BODY. Your body is special. Your heart pumps for you to live, your lungs provide you with clean oxygen, your kidneys remove wastes, your stomach digests food, etc. Eating disorders can cause us to view our bodies differently – often in a very negative way. Recovering from an eating disorder means that you also need to start seeing your body as being a gift. Some of us are naturally bigger than others, and some of us are shorter than others. No matter how you look, learn to appreciate your body the way it is supposed to be – healthy.

 7) There might be other ISSUES you need to work on. Often people with ED struggle with other comorbidities like depression, anxiety, OCD, cutting, etc. If you do have any other problems, seek help for them as well! Like the eating disorder, these problems need to be resolved as well. Perhaps you need medication for depression. Or maybe you need to talk to a therapist about some traumatic problems. Whatever it is, know that this too deserves attention.

8) Eating disorders can be DEADLY. You might not think that the ED is serious, but it really can be. ED can turn into a big problem if it is left for too long – in other words, it can cause serious damage to your body and can threaten your life. You might feel fine and healthy now, but your body may be suffering a lot. One day, you might just crash. Do not prolong getting help until you are too sick to get better. Know that ED can really be fatal – and then seek the help that you need.

9) Recovery is POSSIBLE. Yes, recovery is very hard work. But it is possible – and worth all the struggles. It is definitely not fun fighting ED, but your body will thank you for it. And you will feel happier, stronger, and more alive. Recovery might feel too hard, too tough, and too painful. That is because it is. But once you start seeing the benefits of recovery, you will never turn back.

10) You are not ALONE. There are many people with ED, and there are many people without ED who are willing to help. Talk to someone – your family, friends, teachers, therapists, doctors, etc. There are many resources and people who can be of great help to you during recovery. Seek the help and support you need. You cannot do this without enough love, strength, and power. Ask people you trust to help you.
Well, that about wraps it up! I pray that these ten points remain with you as you recover from ED or seek to help someone in doing so. During the month of February (and all year round!), remember these ten things and keep in mind all those suffering with ED. If you are caring for someone with ED, my heart and prayers are with you. If you are recovering, I give you all my support and admiration.

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