Eating Disorder Awareness Week is an international awareness event, fighting the myths and misunderstandings that surround eating disorders. The week will run from 27 February to 5 March 2017. This year, Beat’s EDAW activities will focus on early intervention, a key part of Beat’s work – the earlier someone can benefit from treatment, the greater their chance of recovery.
Over 725,000 men and women in the UK are affected by eating disorders such as bulimia, binge eating disorder, and anorexia.
This destructive path certainly resonates with me; it is an illness that is self inflicted and maintained by immense control. Many people on the outside would criticise this illness as self-harm and naturally self-inflicted, and simply slowly killing your insides. However when you’re suffering from this disease, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, and the further you go the harder it will be to get out. People do not seem to understand that this is an illness that envelopes your mind, not a lifestyle choice than can be dictated by any individual. A vast majority of men and women constantly battle daily with emotions around food, appearance and weight issues. In today’s society there is a rapid increase of body dysmorphia, with people taking fitness and eating to extremes, to the point where isolation and obsessiveness are having a major impact on peoples confidence, acceptance and mental attitude.
Recently with the increased awareness and importance of health and fitness, having been down this self-destructing path I have major worries regarding future generations. I am concerned about the alarming fitness selfies that I see posted on social media. I cannot seem to fathom the idea of posting before and after photos of your body, your progress, defeats and achievements are your own and no one else’s, why post them online for the world to see? Having battled with an eating disorder for a number of years in the past, the immense pressure to project selfies to the universe is daunting. More than ever before people are exposing to the world that in order to have a great body which you are proud of, you need to share it with everyone. What ever happened to less is more? Do we really need to paint a picture that by being on a controlled, elimination diet with high intensity workouts this is what you need to aspire too? The strain of keeping up with all the crazes is beyond comprehendible and I feel it is highly damaging to the younger people of today who are given the impression that this is the only suitable way to behave.
I am a keen promoter of having a good balance of fitness and healthy eating, although alarm bells often ring in my head when I see the volume of intense fitness programs that people sign up to in order to achieve the perfect looking body. It almost seems as though people are attempting to become brand ambassadors for fitness. Today we are governed by social media, images are posted for you to see, although what is behind that picture can be a totally different story of what is really going on.
If someone looses weight through a program because they physically need to then that is great. However, maintaining weight loss is one of the hardest challenges of loosing weight. In my experience, you either loose weight and then put it back on and more, or you become obsessive and become underweight.
One of the hardest challenges in life where body positivity is concerned is how to have a healthy relationship with food and fitness. Control can be your greatest advantage yet at the same time it can be your biggest detriment.
More than ever before, people are suffering with mild to serious eating disorders. Recently I have been a witness to many people who have unfortunately hit a barrier which has led them down the path of eliminating key nutrients from their diets due to their fitness program, and not only are they suffering with eating disorders, they bodies have taken a toll as the immense strain internally is shutting down their reproduction of healthy bones, ligaments and joints.
Whilst I would never wish this illness on anyone, I have always been grateful for the path I went down. It’s had its turbulent times, it was my greatest enemy during my teens, which sparked an enormous set of challenges between my family and friends. However, it’s taught me the greatest lessons in life which are to nurture and care for the body I was born with.
I am pleased that I can offer honest advice, as I truly understand the pain and suffering that comes with an eating disorder. A statement I will always remember is “if you admit you have an issue with food, you are halfway there”.
My recovery process has taken years and years to heal. My advice to anyone is if you feel like you focus too intensely on restricting your diet, and obsessive exercise, stop and think about the repercussions because the further you go, the harder it is to heal.
There is one relationship that you will always have full control over and that’s with your food so make it a positive one. No matter what shape your body is, stand proud from within yourself and let people around you love you for who you are and not what you imagine you should be.