National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

This doesn’t have anything to do with celiac disease, per se.

However, last time I checked we are all human. As such, we need to eat in order to survive. Also, we need to not eat too much in order to survive, to have maximal health, to like the way we look.

Right?

Food is an integral part of our society-it’s used in celebration, in mourning, in times of stress, in times of joy. As a society, it seems as if the food is primary concern for some occasions. Food is constantly on televison, popping up on our computer, in radio commercials.

As individuals with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, food becomes even more powerful. It has the ability to fuel us, make us strong, make us healthy.

And also to make us sick.

Imagine if thoughts about food, and control of that food consumed all your thoughts. That you felt so out of control in your life that you controlled the one thing you could-what you ate. For some, this can turn into an eating disorder.

I am not a counselor. I have not had a “eating disorder.” I am not qualified in that sense.

However, I have dealt with thoughts of disordered eating. As a physique competitor, there are times in preparing for competitions where calories are cut in order to lose fat. You weigh and measure everything that goes into your mouth. You don’t consider eating anything that you haven’t already mapped out for the day. You plan your activity around your meals. As a side effect of dieting, sometimes you have cravings which must be ignored, and then you plan the treats for what you will eat after the show, stocking up a stash. Sounds a little nutso, doesn’t it? This is considered normal, and to some extent is necessary in the preparation phase of a contest for a physique competitor. For some, this also leads to a severe backlash after the show, with regain of fat in excess of where they started. You think to yourself-what is “normal” eating? I have been very aware of these possibilities, and stayed on top of my thought patterns. I have also been guided through my preparations with intelligent programming and nutrition.

Others are not so lucky. Many others for various other reasons, have developed eating disorders.

Many thanks to my friend Kim at Gluten Free is Life for posting her story, and making me aware of the significance of this week. She is truly an inspiration and I am very proud to call her my friend.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 21-27th.

From National Eating Disorders.org:
The mission of NEDAwareness Week
Our aim of NEDAwareness Week is to ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment. Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses — not choices — and it’s important to recognize the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that shape the disorder.

The statistics are staggering:
“In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Millions more are struggling with binge eating disorder (Crowther et al., 1992; Fairburn et al., 1993; Gordon, 1990; Hoek, 1995; Shisslak et al., 1995).”

I have two reasons for posting this :
-To help with awareness, obviously. This is an issue that hits close to home, as I have too many friends and family who have been affected.

-To make you aware how powerful your thoughts can be.
I know there are many who would like to, and need to, lose fat. It has to be done-for health, for happiness, for self-worth. It’s time to take the unnecessary power away from food that we have given it as a society. Food is ultimately just fuel. It can be very pleasurable, an experience, and should be enjoyed. But it does not have the ability to control you. The food does not control whether or not you put it in your mouth. You do. (I touched on this a bit in Food Power-A Superhero for Good or Evil.)

So enjoy your food. Make smart choices. Fuel yourself optimally. Most importantly, be well.

To check out sensible information on setting up gluten free nutrition plan, click here.

Resources for more information on eating disorders:
National Eating Disorders Association

Bodysport Radio podcast interview which discusses disordered eating in athletes here

Book which I found very helpful:
Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works

Please feel free to share your thoughts or experiences below. We are a no-judgement gluten free and fit community, and you are safe here.

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  1. Kim says:

    Thank you for your post, Erin. :)

  2. Erin says:

    Kim-
    I hate to sound cheesy-but no, thank you :)
    The more awareness we can bring, the more people we can impact in a positive manner.
    And that’s what it’s all about.

  3. Anna says:

    Erin, this is timely. I had eating disorders as a teen and managed to to fight them into submission but when life gets tough it’s so easy to go down those same paths. It’s a path I’m currently fighting having been told my husband must deploy to Iraq this Summer for an unimaginable amount of time. Knowledge is power and I think knowing why I do what I do helps in preventing future lapses. Great post!

  4. Erin says:

    Anna,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. There truly is strength in numbers and you are far from alone. I can only imagine how tough it is with your husband deploying-my fiance is a firefighter/paramedic and my heart skips whenever I hear about a fire in his city while he’s on shift. You and he should be commended for representing our country and thank you. Be well, and know that you have a community that will support you.
    Knowledge is definitely power!

  5. Erik says:

    I am a 49 year old man who had “eating disorders” for many years.
    Many different medical “experts” told me it was in my head and tried to give me Prozac etc which I declined.
    Finally a natural medicines doctor figured out that I had parasites which made me sick several times every day and afraid to eat. After several years consuming Wormwood I am steadily improving.
    My doctor told me that one third of her eating disorder patients actually have parasites picked up from pets, swimming in rivers, lakes, and a variety of foods.
    If you have an eating disorder, please check with a natural medicines doctor for parasites.

  6. Erin says:

    Absolutely Erik, parasites are certainly more common than we would think. Of course always speak with your physician, general or GI about any issues/concerns.

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