This week, one of my friends posted a link to an article on her Facebook page that I really wanted to share. I was just mentioning in my last post how difficult it can be to report on eating disorders or share recovery stories without triggering others, or providing 'how-to's' and new ideas for people to engage in eating disordered behaviors. This particular article was written by a Duke student who struggled with an eating disorder- and she does such an amazing job of sharing her recovery journey in such a sensitive way. You can read it here. It is also posted below for your convenience.  

If you or someone that you know is struggling with an eating disorder, consider seeking help. It might feel like a scary step, but like this student shares below, keeping your eating disorder a secret will not help you heal. For more information on eating disorders, you can check out the National Eating Disorders Awareness website (here), or to find eating disorder professionals in your area, you can check out this link.

A Duke Student Shares Her Story – National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2012

So I’m your typical premed student right? I follow doctors around, do research, volunteer at my favorite nonprofit weekly, have taken 10 times the required NS courses, and watch House religiously.
Well, wrong. I have life experience that you won’t find on any resume- I recently overcame an eating disorder.
It began for me in 10th grade, for reasons I can’t explain. I started taking a higher interest in how my body looked and began to experiment with how I could change it. My mom also noticed this and would bring it up when we were alone, but of course I told her she was just overanalyzing things as usual. I just wanted a “beach body” in time for summer, like the magazines promised, that was all. In my head, I told myself, once you look toned, you can stop. Just for bikini season…Bikini season lasted much longer than I had planned.
Teachers and coaches commented that I was looking thinner than usual- but that wasn’t saying much. My teacher’s own daughter was on the heavier side and my coach wanted me to move into the post position, so I thought they were just biased. I ignored them… Then, that summer I hit my lowest weight since 6th grade.
Sure, I noticed that I would get tired quickly in basketball games, but just attributed it to the summer heat. And that’s how it went for another year- if someone commented on my weight; I would just brush it off.  After a car accident, I gained a lot of it back and became very unhappy. My mom took a big interest in what I ate, and started to make me sit down with the family for dinner since I could no longer go to practice. It’s funny how if you told me to do one thing, I would do the opposite. I had to get in shape!! I was going to college in a matter of months- and you know, freshman gain a whole bunch of weight. The harder she pushed, the harder I pushed back. And that brings me to Duke.
I’ve never been one to care what other people think. It was all about what I thought of myself really, and that was my biggest problem. For me it was never about a number or a size, it was some idea in my head that I just had to keep pushing towards. You could say that’s what got me into Duke in the first place- I always did what I set out to do. Now that I lived in the same room as another person, got even better at hiding my secret- so good I had even convinced myself that nothing was wrong…I probably would never have stopped, but I dove right into rock bottom. One day I found myself hiding in the last bathroom stall with a lap full of junk-food, hating myself and my habit. That was the day that I decided there was, indeed, something very wrong and I needed help.
It wasn’t just what food I ate, it was how rarely I would eat in public, how much time I put into working out, how much I had to lie to keep my secret. I was isolating myself, while still being surrounded by people. I began to see a psychologist, nutritionist, and physician to help address every aspect of my disorder- how I felt about myself and food, and what had done to my body. After building these connections for almost 4 years, it was hard to just let them go. It’s like any abusive relationship- despite the tears and pain, this is what I had grown close to. But I knew if I wanted to have a true relationship with someone, if I wanted to have faith in myself, if I wanted to serve others, if I wanted to live out my life, I had to stop.
It took a lot of courage and pep talks in my head before I could my friends, but what came next was shocking. After telling my story, I heard a string of quiet “me too’s”. Some of my best memories are at Duke, but so are some of my worst ones. My biggest mistake was thinking that I was alone. I was never alone in my struggles; my friends gave me strength without even trying, and some even carried the same battle with them. Everyone knows somebody like me. And if you don’t think you do, you probably just aren’t paying close enough attention. If you are that somebody, please, please don’t ever feel like you are alone. Talk to your friends, talk to CAPS, talk to anyone. But believe me, keeping it a secret will not help you heal. What defines us is how we rise after falling.
I no longer check out my belly in the mirror every time I walk out of a bathroom.
I no longer do math in my head to figure out what I can and cannot eat.
I no longer see pictures of other women and think “I wish I looked like that”
I no longer feel guilty about specific foods, nor do I battle with cravings.
I have forgiven myself and have healed mind and body. I was only able to do this because I finally admitted that I had a problem and asked for help.

Something that has stuck with me is the ability to pick up mannerisms and attitudes like my own. Duke is no stranger to eating disorders and something needs to be done about it. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and say, “me too”.


In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I wanted to draw your attention to just some of the articles that might be helpful to you this week in raising awareness for yourself, or for others! I always encourage people when trying to educate or raise awareness that they be mindful of potentially triggering information out there- articles that outline eating disorder behaviors in very specific detail, height and weight info, etc. can be especially triggering to people. These articles below are void of such details.

One helpful hint: Using social media to create awareness is a great (and easy!) way to spread the word about eating disorders this week- whether you use facebook, twitter, etc. Consider how you might influence people in your social networks!

You can click on the items below to be taken to the website or article...

5 Ways to Honor National Eating Disorder Association Week by Dr. Susan Albers

Eating Disorders Awareness Week (an article published 2 years ago- very good!)

NEDAwareness- Information about the Week, FAQ, etc.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: How Empathy Plays a Part in the Healing Process for Those with Eating Disorders by Judy Scheel

Support for your Partner During National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2012 by Kate Thieda


National Eating Disorder Awareness Week!!!

Tomorrow- Sunday, February 26th- marks the beginning of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. On Sunday morning, at 730am, G105, 93.9 KISS FM and 100.7 The River will all be broadcasting a segment on body image that Ellen Morrison (a dietician and eating disorder specialist) and I recorded a few weeks back. It will also be airing at 6p Sunday evening on 106.1. Once it airs, I will try to post a link to the segment. In addition, there are events going on locally if you are interested in being involved. All events will be held at Meredith College, and are free and open to the public. See below for details! If you are interested in attending an event in your neighborhood, check out this link to find events near you!

This year's theme is "Everybody Knows Somebody." I think this communicates the growing awareness that eating disorders touch the lives of everyone on some level. To learn more, consider attending an event in your area, or follow this link for more resources to learn more about eating disorders.

Tuesday, February 28th: "There is No Such Thing as Fattening Food: Debunking Dieting Myths" by Ellen Morrison, MS, RD, CEDS. 7p in Kresge Auditorium in Cate Center

Wednesday, February 29th: Body Image Discussion by Renee Avis, LPC, 6p in Ledford Hall, Room 101

Thursday, March 1st: Scale Smashing Event- bring your own scale! 3:30-5p on the back lawn of the Gaddy-Hammrick Art Center.


Rainy Day Reading

I hope everyone is having a great week!! It's a rainy Thursday, and I'm plugging away, catching up on work and preparing for the rest of my clients that I will be seeing this afternoon and evening. I thought I would pop in real quick to share some articles that I have read recently that may be of interest. Most of them (with the exception of two!) have been published on the Huffington Post in the last few weeks. Hope you enjoy them!! Have a great day!

The Eating Disorder Time Suck

Children Dieting at Age 7 to Ward Off Bullies

Karl Lagerfield Calls Adele Fat and Insults Us All

Plus Size Magazine 'Reveals' Low Weight Among Models

Health Risks Due to Performance Pressures on Athletes

Like Mother, Like Daughter: Eating Disorders Run in Families


Geneen Roth has written many books on women and food- Feeding the Hungry HeartWhen Food is Love, Breaking Free From Emotional Eating, When You Eat at the Refrigerator Pull Up A Chair, Women, Food and God, etc. Roth writes about her personal experiences with dieting, weight loss and weight gain (both healthy and unhealthy), self-love and acceptance, gaining confidence, and feeling beautiful. No matter how you might characterize your relationship with food- restrictive, binging and/or purging, some combination of the three- there are helpful pieces of wisdom in her books for everyone. 

Roth does a great job of promoting healthy body image, especially in light of our culture's unrealistic beauty ideals. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to parents of young girls about promoting positive body image in their daughters. One of the key points that I made was that in order to foster positive body image in girls, you must model a positive, healthy body image yourself. Whether you have daughters or not, you probably have a sister, a friend, a cousin, etc. who is female- so this applies to all of us. :) It is important that as women, we work to encourage and model healthy self-esteem and body image for ourselves, but also for the women in our lives. That is one challenging task these days. I want to share a few lines from Roth's book Breaking Free From Emotional Eating that addresses this subject-

"Living in a woman's body is not easy. Especially if you happen to look like a woman and not like an adolescent boy. We've spent years trying to slice away what makes our bodies womanly: the roundness, the lushness, and we've sliced our spirits instead. We've listened for so long to what they- our parents, our fashion moguls, our Hollywood directors- decide is attractive that we've lost our own voices. We don't know who we are anymore.

Power is born when we stop trying to unzip ourselves out of our bodies, when we stop trying to lose so much weight we look like boys or gain so much weight we can't be seen. Power is born with the willingness to be seen."

That last line is particularly powerful, and may hold a clue to body image struggles that we all experience at one time or another-- and for some, are more chronic and pervasive. Being seen and using our voices are both directly tied to our view of ourselves and our worth. Examining our worth as people, knowing where our true value comes from and claiming that can be powerful in having a healthy and appropriate view of ourselves. For more on emotional eating and body image, check out Geneen Roth's books.

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