91% of college-aged girls have attempted to control their weight through dieting + 20% of college girls have an eating disorder. This means that the majority of girls you know have struggled with poor body image, ++ 1 in 5 of the girls at your university have struggled with disordered eating. Eating disorders are so common, but they are often hidden behind closed doors. Mental health is always difficult to talk about, but eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. How can we open up the conversation to help those closest to us?
Since many eating disorders are undiagnosed or Other Specified Feeding + Eating Disorders [OSFED], try to reserve all judgment + not assume anything about someone’s disordered eating. Have an open ear + open mind, allowing them to come to you if they need to vent or talk with someone. Appreciate the open conversation + try to empathize to the best of your abilities.
SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP
Eating disorders do require professional help, but often, therapy needs to be accepted with open arms. It might be difficult for someone to admit that they have an eating disorder, much less actively seek help to treat it. However, early diagnosis and intervention can significantly reduce the chronic, life-threatening consequences of this disease. Ongoing care through nutritional education + counseling may be necessary, but 60% of eating disorder sufferers make a full recovery with treatment. Encourage visiting a therapist or maybe even telling someone else they trust. A step in the right direction is better than no step at all.
EVALUATE YOUR OWN BODY IMAGE // TALK
We all have those days when we look in the mirror + may not 100% love what we see. Have you ever found yourself with a group of friends, collectively hating on the parts you don’t like about yourselves? Instead of venting to each other, turn those perceived *imperfections* into positives. Talk about how great you did on an exam this week, or what plans you’re all looking forward to this weekend. We live in a society that’s focused mainly on beauty + looks — break out from the crowd + focus on the amazing parts of you that make you unique instead.
Your friends are there for a reason. They trust you to help type the perfect reply text, be a shoulder to lean on, + notice when something seems off. If you think someone you love has developed an unhealthy relationship with food, speak up and show that you care. They may have been looking for a friend to talk to. Be that friend, ++ let’s continue to open the conversation around disordered eating.
This week, we’re highlighting CHAARG Journeys in overcoming eating disorders. Read both Ashleigh M + Ashleigh B‘s stories for amazing inspo to remind yourself the power of positive vibes + the CHAARG Community <3
++ Mary K