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Nobody’s Perfect Recognizes Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2024

The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) raises awareness each year on individuals who struggle with eating disorders by recognizing Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW) 2024. This year, #EDAW2024 runs from February 26 to March 3 and supports anyone battling an eating disorder to feel empowered seeking the treatment and support they need when it comes to mental health and body positivity.

Here at Nobody’s Perfect Community, we’re building off the momentum of #EDAW2024 with some quick, powerful tips and suggestions for parents and caregivers trying to assist a child or loved one battling an eating disorder.

Actively listen and resist the urge to affirm.

As a parent, it can be difficult to hear your child or loved one speak negatively about their bodies and/or their self-esteem. Even so, the most powerful measure you can take in these moments is to actively listen.

  • Take note of the language they are using, their tone of their voice, and other cues. Do your best not to react with counterstatements like, “But you’re beautiful!” or “You shouldn’t speak that way about yourself…you’re perfect!”
  • Instead, respond using compassion and statements that validate their experience. Examples could be: “That sounds like a very strong feeling” or “I hear everything you’re saying and thank you for feeling comfortable enough to share that with me.”

Inquire further using nonjudgmental questioning.

Cautious curiosity can better inform you of deeper struggles your child might be facing or encourage more dialogue when it comes to an eating disorder.

  • For example, if through your discussion your child talks about a celebrity they follow on social media who is absorbed with thinness or superficiality, you might ask: “Wow, it sounds like that influencer has a lot of followers on TikTok! I wonder why so many people follow them?”
  • Or perhaps they’re interested in someone who wears excessive makeup and express interest in wanting to change their facial appearance. You might ask, “What about putting makeup up on makes you feel good? Why do you think others do it?” Questions like these can provide you with more information about the type of people your children are engaging with, without sounding critical or harsh.

Understand the variables out of your control.

As parents, it can be easy to blame yourself for your child or loved one’s eating disorder, but it’s very important to remember the pressure our culture places on body image. Commercials, TV shows, social media, and countless other mediums still glamorize and elevate thinner, smaller bodies.

  • It’s likely your loved one or teen has interacted with media that has influenced their belief in how they should look, further perpetuating a deeply rooted narrative about body image that is not a reflection of your parenting.
  • While factors like these might be out of your control, open and honest discussions with your child about them can heighten their awareness of biased media. It can also encourage you to think about ways you might better cultivate a home environment that celebrates what it truly means to be healthy.

Remember: if you are a youth, young adult, or individual struggling with a healthy relationship with food, you’re not alone. In fact, roughly 28.8 million Americans across the United States experience an eating disorder in their lifetime.

For more insights and information, check out our full-length episode on eating disorders with Llyndsey Reese of the Eating Recovery Center on the podcast, or visit NEDA’s resource page to view a list of categorized resources designed to serve anyone on the road to recovery from an eating disorder.

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