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Eating Disorder Awareness Week Resource Guide

By Rachel Parodneck, LCSW

In the US, eating disorders affect over 30 million people. Eating disorders are serious but treatable mental and physical illnesses that can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights. In fact, eating disorders have the second highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders, surpassed only by opioid addiction. A great resource for information and help is the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). NEDA supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care.More information can be found on their website. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

Types of eating disorders vary, and can include but are not limited to the following:

Anorexia nervosa:
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss (or lack of appropriate weight gain in growing children); difficulties maintaining an appropriate body weight for height, age, and stature; and, in many individuals, distorted body image.
(read more at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/anorexia)

Bulimia nervosa:
Bulimia nervosa is characterized by a cycle of binge eating and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating. (read more at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bulimia)

Binge-eating disorder:
Binge eating disorder, the most common eating disorder in the United States, is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food; a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures to counter the binge eating. (read more at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bed)

Orthorexia:
The term ‘orthorexia’ was coined in 1998 and means an obsession with proper or ‘healthful’ eating. Although being aware of and concerned with the nutritional quality of the food you eat isn’t a problem in and of itself, people with orthorexia become so fixated on so-called ‘healthy eating’ that they actually damage their own well-being.
(Read more at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/orthorexia)

Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder:
Unspecified feeding or eating disorder (UFED) applies to presentations in which symptoms characteristic of a feeding and eating disorder that cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functions predominate but do not meet the full criteria for any of the disorders in the feeding and eating disorders diagnostic class. (Read more at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/unspecified-feeding-or-eating-disorder)

Types of treatment:
There are a variety of ways that individuals receive treatment for eating disorders but some common terms are below:

Residential: This is a type of treatment where an individual lives at the treatment facility for a period of time; 28 days is a common length of stay at such facility but treatment times vary.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): This is a type of treatment where an individual spends the majority of their day receiving treatment at a hospital, only going home for the night to sleep.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): This is a type of treatment where an individual spends multiple hours on multiple days of the week at a treatment facility.

Outpatient: This is a type of treatment where an individual sees a therapist, and/or nutritionist, support group, or doctor for a less rigorous treatment option.

Ways to seek help:
Contact National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) helpline:
Call (800)931-2237 (Mon-Thurs 11am-9pm, Fri 11am-5pm ET). The NEDA helpline has a wealth of resources to help both you and a loved one suffering from an eating disorder.

Contact Crisis Text Line:
For crisis situations, text NEDA to tel: 741741 to be connected with a trained crisis counselor at Crisis Text Line. This is available 24/7.

Contact a Treatment Center:
If you are looking for a treatment center, NEDA has a database of treatment providers across the country. Enter your zip code to find a treatment center that meets your needs: https://map.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

Forums & Virtual Support Groups:
Forums and virtual support groups can serve as a safe space for you to connect with others who have shared experiences and feelings. NEDA has a section on their website dedicated to free and low cost treatment options. They have virtual support groups, forums and recovery mentors. More information can be found at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/free-low-cost-support

Be Mindful of Social Media:
Social media can have a detrimental effect on our mental health, especially when it comes to body image. Be mindful of the messages that are being promoted about diet culture and body size. Review the accounts you are following and ask yourself, “is this helpful or harmful for my mental health?” Consider unfollowing or muting those accounts that are triggering.

Talk to a Dietician or Nutritionist or Therapist:
A professional who is skilled in helping people develop a meal plan and cope with eating disorders can be essential in the quest to get well. Follow our Instagram account to check out our links to amazing dieticians’ and nutritionists’ websites. You can book an appointment with a Refresh therapist on our website or in our DM’s!

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