Hidden River Supports Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Our friends at the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) created Eating Disorder Awareness Week nearly 20 years ago, when they came together to prevent anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. 

This year, Eating Disorder Awareness Week will take place from February 27th to March 5th.

According to National Today, eight percent of the population has an eating disorder. That’s 30 million Americans! Eating disorders, however, can look quite different from person to person. As a mental health disorder – with signs that include physical symptoms but are not limited only to the body – eating disorders impact people of all ages, genders, races, cultural backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses. The five eating disorders listed in the diagnostic manual of the American Psychological Association are:

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder
  • Other specified feeding or eating disorder

These eating disorders, while quite different from one another in terms of behavioral patterns, are often built upon feelings of insecurity and a drive for perfectionism. They can cause relationship conflicts with loved ones and, in some ways, become a similar way of living to an addiction to substances.

National Today also shares that every 60 seconds, someone dies of an eating disorder, making it the most lethal mental health disorder. Unfortunately, eating disorders commonly present concurrently with depression, anxiety, or another mood disorder. They can be difficult to spot and generally go without treatment. The aim of Eating Disorder Awareness Week is to change this truth.

The themes of this year’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week are: “Strength through Experience and Knowledge” and  “It’s Time for Change.” 

Experience and knowledge are a huge part of the prevention of eating disorders. Knowing what to look out for in oneself and in loved ones – and bringing up the conversation about mental health early – plays a significant role in treatment outcomes. To help a loved one, according to NEDA, some warning signs of eating disorders include:

  • Preoccupation with food intake or exercise
  • Mood changes that occur unprompted
  • Low self-esteem or body dysmorphia
  • Social withdrawal
  • Refusing to eat around other people
  • Fluctuations in weight, which may be covered up by wearing baggy clothing
  • Sleep issues

While there are many more symptoms to consider, observing any major changes in your loved one is an important time to open conversation. You might start by saying, “Hey, just wanted to check in to see how you are. I’ve noticed that you’ve been acting a bit differently lately, is everything okay?” Begin the conversation with a curious, open mind. And the most important component of this conversation? Listening. While you might have a lot to say about what you’ve noticed in your loved ones, this conversation is a time for them to share with you what’s on their minds. It might take a few conversations before you gain insight into their challenges, but your constant empathetic support will go a long way.

If your loved one expresses that they’re concerned about their eating behaviors or thought patterns around mealtimes, connect them with a licensed mental health clinician or a treatment team. Eating disorder treatment often incorporates multiple professional disciplines, including psychology, nutrition, and medicine.

Of course, the team at Hidden River is celebrating Eating Disorder Awareness Week! 

We lit up our greenhouse in blue and green (photo above). Our patients will also participate in special activities, including t-shirt design competitions. Plus, we are the presenting sponsors at the NEDA Walk 2023 in Verona, New Jersey, on Sunday, May 7th. We encourage you to educate yourself on eating disorders and reach out to help those who need support as they go through this mental health challenge. 

If you would like to talk about how to support a loved one who is struggling, we can help! We offer a comprehensive eating disorder treatment program located on a beautiful property in northern New Jersey. Better yet, we’re currently accepting new clients. Indeed, it’s time for change!

To learn more about Hidden River and to schedule a tour of its unmatched buildings and grounds, please call us today at 833.30.RIVER.

Leave a Reply