Eating Disorder Awareness Week! (EDAW)

This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW). This is a week that pays special attention to increasing awareness about eating disorders: what they are, how they can be prevented and treated. and how to support others throughout their own journeys. Of course, raising awareness about ED should happen all year - but having a special week dedicated to the cause makes us more aware of the key issues. (P.S. Purple is the colour for Eating Disorder Awareness - so please try to wear purple or incorporate purple into your lives this week to show your support!)

I have certain goals for EDAW. I hope that someone will hear of ED and know that it is a mental illness, and not a choice. That struggling with an eating disorder is a challenging, emotional, and painful experience - and not simply a quest to lose weight and be thin. I have hope that society will let go of false ideas that women and men need to be tall, thin, muscular, etc. in order to be strong and beautiful. That the media will realize that depicting individuals in unrealistic measures does more harm than what we may see on the surface. That friends and family can avoid speaking about food as good or bad, as healthy or unhealthy. That all foods can be eaten in moderation, as part of a healthy and balanced life. That nutrition will be viewed as something necessary for life - that food is the sustenance that enables our bodies and minds to carry out normal functions. That weight will not be seen as a measure of one's self-worth or achievements. That exercise will not be seen or depicted as a chore, as something that we need to do because we want to look a certain way, fit into a pair of jeans, brag about our muscular strength, etc. That beauty will be defined as simply being yourself - the amazing, talented, special individual that you are, the awesome creation by God.

Does this seem far off? Perhaps, seeing as where society is at now. But it isn't impossible. Already, strives and successes have been made. Think back to your previous knowledge about ED, and think about it now. Do you understand more about ED as a mental illness? Can you appreciate why recovering from ED is challenging? Do you know how to support someone with ED? I guarantee that your knowledge has increased...and this is the way it should be. When we understand more about something, we become less ignorant and more informed. You can make a difference. You can educate yourself and others about ED. You can be a positive example for your friends and family by enjoying food (ex. not talking about how awful it is that you ate that piece of cake), by accepting your body and not shaming it (ex. don't complain about how you don't look like you did give years ago), by approaching physical activity in a healthy manner (ex. no one cares how much you 'lift' or that you woke up today and had a fun run in the sun), etc.

As a final shout-out, I am honoured to say that I have been invited to present at a NEDIC workshop/conference On Tuesday February 10, 2014 in Toronto (see for details, scroll down to the Toronto events and see the second large poster). This is a major annual conference that never fails to educate and inspire! I will be speaking about my experience with ED, my recovery process, and tools for support. The event is free and open to all - members of the community, healthcare professionals, teachers, friends, etc - so if you are able to come, please show us your support! I am excited to yet again have an opportunity to share my story (through my presentations, book, and blog) to others, in hopes that it will not only help those currently battling ED, but also in raising awareness and sharing this message:

Eating disorders are life-threatening mental illnesses. They are not choices. But eating disorders don't have to persist. They can be identified and treated. And recovery is 100% possible.

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