PEDAW: Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Positive Image

For the first week of February, every year, people wear purple and raise awareness for eating disorder prevention through the PEDAW, Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness Campaign: love our bodies, love ourselves. By bringing eating disorders into the spotlight, we can create meaningful conversations around reducing the stigma of eating disorders and highlighting the importance of body acceptance, health at every size, self-love and a good relationship with food.Through nutriFoodie, I get to focus on the most applicable and basic aspect of nourishing our bodies for health, not weight. Along the way, in my practice, I learned that it was not all about the knowledge of food and nutrition, but rather mostly about our psychology and mental health. The way we filter information and messages from our surroundings, internalize it and then reflect back in our actions.Let me explain.   Eating can be a true struggle – from identifying whatto eat to being okay with food choices, and then feeling satisfied with the feelings after. That’s not just it. It can get even more complex with the perception of body, and how food is supposed to make a person feel: Guilt, instead of pleasure and nourishment. Shame, instead of gratitude and appreciation. Anxiety, instead of celebration and excitement.All those happy thoughts someone might have about indulging in a chocolate cake may be as equally destructive to someone suffering from disordered eating or an eating disorder. Eating disorders are diagnosed when someone’s problematic disordered eating meets narrow criteria defined by the American Psychiatric Association. Disordered eating covers a wide-range of irregular eating behaviours such as yo-yo dieting, excessive exercising, and obsession with weight control, and many more but does not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of an eating disorder.  Eating disorders or disordered eating can be used as a coping mechanism to deal with the stresses of life or trauma and that can manifest with eating behaviour and body image. At nutriFoodie and in our kids’ camps, we not only teach food literacy and cooking skills, we more importantly, shed light on healthy eating and living in a way that makes us feel good, invigorated, and caring of ourselves. As children start to learn about their bodies, they also start comparing themselves to others which can affect their self-worth.All the messages we get from watching tv, listening to the radio, or reading a magazine while we’re grocery shopping, to comments we hear at the gym, in a pharmacy, or even by our doctors – EVERYTHING can affect our self-esteem and turn our self-love to self-hate.

Here’s what you can DO about it:

Have you ever audited your self-talk? Did you notice any negative talk you might say to yourself about your body? Or does someone make a comment on your weight, appearance, or food you’re eating that may negatively affect how you treat yourself?   Let’s raise awareness together. It’s time to shatter the stigma and fight for change. nutriFoodie is an advocate for healthy bodies and health at every size.   Here is a 5-step personal checklist to think of when you’re talking about food, weight, and body image around your children:  

  1. Use positive phrasing when discussing body shapes, food, and weight
  2. Forego the talking and praising of weight loss and focus on the inner beauty and health behaviours
  3. Encourage the enjoyment of their favourite snacks/desserts
  4. Don’t use food as a “treat” or “punishment”
  5. Create a safe space for talking and voicing unique opinions (open communication)

Eating disorders are not a choice, and they do not discriminate – both men and women, and young girls and boys can be affected. What can you do if a loved one or your child is suspected of having an eating disorder? Show you care. Provide support. Take a collaborative stance together. Reach out for professional help.   When it comes to yourself, if you think you have developed an eating disorder, or feel you may have developed disordered eating or have jumped on that slippery slope, please PLEASE speak out, and seek help – start with a friend you trust, and then reach out to professional help, sooner than later. There’s only so much you can do on “your own” for yourself, or for your loved ones. We’re here for you – not just “nutriFoodie”, but the entire team behind this name including me!

This Valentine’s, make sure to love yourself, first. <3

PEDAW, a BC Province-wide effort to raise awareness around prevention and early intervention of eating disorders as well as media literacy, resiliency, building healthy body image and self-esteem, launches the first full week in February with activities and events taking place throughout the year. The initiative is led by Jessie’s Legacy Eating Disorders Prevention Program at Family Services of the North Shore in collaboration with Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre, Looking Glass Foundation, St. Paul ’s Specialized Adult Eating Disorder Program, BC Children’s Hospital Eating Disorders Program, Healthy Minds, Healthy Campuses and Project True.   For more information on PEDAW, please click here

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