NEDA week and Eating Disorder awareness

NEDA week and Eating Disorder awareness

Kadee Green

As this is a very difficult topic to discuss, names will be hidden at the request of the interviewees. 

If you or a loved one experience any type of ED, help is available. Contact the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or text ‘NEDA’ to 741741. Their website also offers a free screening tool that can help determine if it’s time to reach out. Recovery is possible. 


NEDA week, beginning on February 20, 2023 highlights the difficulties faced by individuals struggling with different types of Eating Disorders. Eating Disorders (or ED’s for short) affect at least 9% of the population, which in the US alone, accounts for about 29 million people. Many individuals dealing with any type of ED will use this week to challenge their distorted thoughts and help further their recovery process. 


Anorexia Nervosa(AN)

Distorted thinking is found to begin in early years, whether it comes from family members, social media, school, magazines, etc, “When I was only 7, society led me to believe I was fat. A 7 year old. My brain couldn’t comprehend that society was stupid, I just gave in. And by the time I was 13 I was on the verge of death.” Said a sophomore student at CT. This specific student dealt with anorexia nervosa; a mental illness that creates a preoccupation with caloric intake, weight, and body size, usually characterized by abnormally low body weight. Anorexia has been proven as one of the most deadly mental illnesses

A study through the Mayo Clinic found that the behavioral patterns most commonly linked with this restrictive ED consists of extreme body dysmorphia, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, isolation and many other behaviors and mental health struggles. “Just eating” is not an option for most when they have an ED. There’s more behind the mindset and even more behind the title of AN, “It isn’t simple and it takes a lot more than just physically taking a bite,” said one senior. Further studies by the Mayo Clinic have found that AN typically sparks from an unconscious attempt to come to terms with unresolved conflicts or painful childhood experiences, “It’s not always about being skinny, it’s about having some sort of control.” Said a CT senior. Although some may find comfort is found in this, the effects outweigh the minute benefits. Studies from Riverwalk Recovery Center found that  “Anorexia and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, are the most common co-existing disorders,” along with body dysmorphia, substance abuse(shows up in 50% of individuals with eating disorders), and extreme depression and anxiety. 

AN causes deaths in 5 out of every 1000 people per year due to extreme side effects from malnutrition. These include bradycardia(extremely low heart rate), hypotension(extremely low blood pressure), osteopenia, anemia, hair loss, yellowing skin, and sometimes hypothermia due to not having any body fat, “I was miserable but I didn’t realize that until I recovered,” said a sophomore student at CT. 


Bulimia nervosa

Similar to the mindset behind anorexia, those dealing with bulimia have a strong preoccupation with food and caloric intakes. These two disorders differ in how caloric intake is perceived. Bulimia consists of binging(eating a large amount of food with low self control) followed by purging(getting rid of) the calories through a number of ways. “It’s like an addiction. Once you start with it you want it all the time, and the more you go against it the more you’ll want it.” Said a CT junior. Bulimia shares almost all of the same roots of AN, but the behaviors behind the two create the line between them. Those with bulimia will most typically purge their calories through self-induced vomiting or an abuse of laxatives and diuretics. 

An adult, now in recovery, discussed her journey with bulimia, most specifically purging in her high school years and the effects of it. Purging is known to deteriorate and discolor teeth, rip open the esophagus, induce much higher abdominal pain and bloating, lower blood pressure to dangerous levels, cause constant fainting from malnutrition, and many more symptoms that have been known to cause death. 


Binge Eating 

ED’s do not only consist of restricting, or trying to lose weight. Those with a binge ED will experience periods of time where they feel no control over what they eat. This disorder is the most common of any ED, with about 9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans, having an eating disorder in their lifetime

A binge ED typically sprouts from depression and anxiety, along with risk factors from being prone to obesity or childhood trauma. Recovery as with any mental health problem has many hardships. “It’s a lifetime journey that will be full of ups and downs. Some days you will feel like you are on top of the world but others you feel like you can’t even get out of bed. You are not alone in this feeling and what you are experiencing is normal.” Said a former high school student, now a freshman in college. 


Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

ARFID is usually seen as picky eating by most people, but the brain chemistry goes further than “picky eating”. ARFID affects mostly children, but it is not unusual in adolescents or adults. Kids with ARFID are more likely to have(or already have) anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit disorder (ADHD), and problems at home or school because of their eating habits. 

“ARFID can be hard to overcome, but learning about healthy eating and addressing fears helps many kids and teens feel better and do well. When the whole family works together to change mealtime behaviors, a child is likely to have continued success,” said Colleen Sherman, PhD



“ED’s are so difficult because they hijack your mind. In an attempt to gain control, you try to manipulate an essential need in life and what might start off as ‘an attempt to be healthier or gain control’ gradually increases as you see the effects on your body” Said a former high school student, now a freshman in college. 

During the week of February 20, 2023, those in any stage of ED recovery challenge any type of distorted eating they experience to make these steps towards a life in recovery. “It’s not easy and it’s not going to get better right away, but it’s worth it in the end even if it doesn’t seem like it right now” said a CT junior. 

If you or a loved one experience any type of ED, get help. Contact the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or text ‘NEDA’ to 741741. Their website also offers a free screening tool that can help determine if it’s time to reach out. Recovery is possible.