Did you know that February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Month? In honor of this month, participate in these great activities to raise awareness of eating disorders, decrease stigma, and promote recovery.
Attend a local event
Many organizations are hosting events to promote this month. Some events are focused on raising awareness and educating the public. Others discuss recovery and are aimed at the families affected by these disorders. Attending these events can be an outward sign of support of these individuals, and if you have struggled with eating disorders, it is a great place to meet people who have deep understanding of the same difficult journey. Be sure to share the insights you gain with friends and family members to raise awareness and work against the stigma associated with mental and physical health disorders.
Avoid commenting on appearance
Knowing what to say or not to say to someone who has struggled with an eating disorder can seem like an uphill battle. Generalizing comments like this one, “But don’t you know you’re beautiful” can be a cause of frustration to people bearing the weight of an eating disorder. Even worse, careless comments about body image or food can be triggering to people and cause deep pain.
Make an effort to avoid language that emphasizes body size and shape this month. Steer clear of talk of food, quantity and dieting. Instead, focus on positive qualities in others that don’t relate to nutrition or appearance. Compliment people for their talent, intelligence, honesty and other traits. Focus on the communal aspect of mealtime, making it a joyful experience for all.
Sponsor advocacy organizations
There are many organizations that support individuals struggling with eating disorders, advocate for awareness and work towards ending stigma. Consider donating to an organization of your choice this month. You could also participate in a run, walk or other charitable event, such as the NEDA Walk.
Promote body positivity
Whether you do this online or in-person, you will be helping to make the world a more body-positive place! Here are some ideas:
- Share a body-positive post on social media. You could share an informational video, inspirational quote, or anything else that promotes body positivity.
- Share eating disorder facts on social media. You could share informal content that your friends and followers might not know, informing yourself and others collectively.
- Talk with friends or family members about body image. If you are a parent, now is a great time to discuss body image with your children.
- Write a body-positive message and leave it somewhere for a friend, family member, or stranger to find. The organization Operation Beautiful does this already, but you can contribute to their cause with your own encouraging messages!
Whatever promotional method you choose, spreading body positivity throughout your community will have a greater impact than you may think.
Share your own story
If you have experienced an eating disorder and feel comfortable sharing your experience, consider doing so this month. This doesn’t necessarily mean posting on social media or telling all of your friends and relatives. Sharing your story could be as simple as talking to a friend who seems to be showing signs of an eating disorder. Your story may inspire someone on their own recovery journey.
Check in with friends and family
Have you ever considered that you might know someone who is quietly struggling without anyone noticing? You could reach out to a friend who seems dissatisfied with their body image, or check in with your child to see how they feels about her appearance. Your efforts may lead someone to seek treatment for an eating disorder, or help them identify negative thought patterns about their own body that need to be changed into positive ones.
Educate yourself about eating disorders
Take time this month to learn about eating disorder types, symptoms, health consequences, and recovery. The more you know about these life-threatening illnesses, the better prepared you will be to help someone who is struggling. Visit our Education Center for free resources about each type of eating disorder.
Of course, National Eating Disorders Awareness Month isn’t the only time to practice these activities. We should be advocating for awareness year-round.
If you’re concerned that you or a loved one is having eating disorder symptoms, contact Seeds of Hope to make an appointment today. Take our confidential self-assessment, or contact us at (610)644-6464.