Let’s Get Real is the theme of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week which runs from February 26th through March 2nd.

Well… “Let’s Get Real” is what I was thinking as my daughter and I attended a Bridal Expo this past weekend.
Diet culture was ever present at the Bridal Expo we attended yesterday. My daughter is getting married shortly and we, like brides and families all over, were looking to get information from the event. The place was packed with vendors — wedding planners, florists, photographers, make-up artists, entertainers and dress designers. They also had hundreds of brides (grooms and parents too) in a wide range of ages, shapes, sizes, and ethnicities.
One of the most popular vendors was a Medical Spa, offering anti-aging products, medical weight loss treatment and a new method of “freezing” stubborn fat right out of your bodies. I chuckled to myself as the woman ignored my daughter but came right up to me and started describing this fat freezing in detail! I politely took the information and got out of there!

Permit me to be real for a moment…

Brides are vulnerable to diet culture. With such an emphasis on looking “perfect” on the big day, it is easy to fall prey to the latest and greatest diet program.

As an eating disorder dietitian with more than 20 years of experience, I have seen the negative fallout of diets, including binge and emotional eating, rebound weight gain for some, as well as serious eating disorders with deadly consequences including anorexia, bulimia, and other specified feeding and eating disorders.

It is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week in 2018. Are you ready to Get Real?

Here are some facts that we should “Get Real” about:

  • People with eating disorders may appear healthy, yet may be extremely ill.
  • Eating Disorders come in all body shapes, sizes, genders, races, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic status.
  • As many as 20 million women and 10 million men will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives.
  • You do not have to be thin to have anorexia; in fact, anorexia is commonly missed in people who have larger body sizes.
  • You do not “chose” to have an Eating disorder; it is not a “fad’’ or “phase,” but a serious biologically influenced illnesses with the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.
  • Families are not to blame; genes alone do not predict who will develop eating disorders and families can be the patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.
  • An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning, as eating disorders carry an increased risk for both suicide and medical complications.
  • Genes and environment do play an important role in the development of eating disorders. Early detection and intervention increases the likelihood of full recovery from an eating disorder.

All brides (and grooms) are beautiful and should be made to feel that way. They do not need any more pressure than they already have when it comes to the big day. Interestingly, the seamstress who is fitting my daughter’s dress told her from the start not to think about weight loss; all the brides she works with who attempt weight loss look haggard!
It is time for everyone to Get Real about Eating Disorders and instead focus on appreciating your “here and now” body and taking good care of it.
So as we embark on National Eating Disorder Awareness this week, I want to ask you all to not only Get Real, but the bigger question I have been thinking since that Bridal Show is…

I certainly did!
If you or a loved one is struggling with disordered eating patterns, or you’re just not sure if your thoughts about food and weight are concerns, now is a good time to get a free screening for an eating disorder.
Click this link to access the free screening tool.
If you are struggling and want help with your journey to recovery, please reach out to me and we can help you. Book a free consult with Erica to determine what programs and services we offer at Erica Leon Nutrition that would best fit your nutrition needs.
#LetsGetReal #NEDAWareness
*Adapted from NationalEatingDisoders.org