February 24 begins National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Posted at 8:52 AM, Feb 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-24 10:25:46-05

It's a potentially deadly illness that impacts millions...and yet, only one-third will receive treatment.

Monday, February 24 marks the start of the 2020 National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

An eating disorder is an unhealthy behavior with food that's taken to the extreme and common examples include binge eating, Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.

The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness says at least 30 million Americans will struggle with a significant eating disorder during their life.

Mary Dye is the area's only Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian. She tells News 3 her clients come from all backgrounds, ages, genders and body types.

“It hits every area of life. Mental, physical, social, spiritual. Every aspect and it doesn’t discriminate," said Dye. "I think we have this cultural idea of an eating disorder looking a certain way and unfortunately providers are kind of looking for a certain mold. That’s not the case with eating disorders.”

Early treatment, Dye says, can be crucial and recognizing eating disorders before they develop can keep them from happening.

“(Look for) that increased rigidity around food. The person who always has to be the one that cooks, prepares and plans and can’t veer from that. That I would say is a big flag. That loss of spontaneity with food. The person that’s always making really negative comments around food and sadly as a culture, we often do that," she said.

If you have a concern someone you love has an eating disorder, the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness has some recommendations:

- Find the right time to talk to the person in private.
- Tell them your concerns using "I" statements.
- Validate their feelings.
- Don't comment on food intake, weight or appearance.
- Don't promise to keep their struggles a secret.

If you have an eating disorder or know someone who might be struggling, consider contacting the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) helpline at 1 (800) 931-2237.

There is also a Hampton Roads-based support group.

Other resources: