When is Eating Disorder Awareness Month?

When is Eating Disorder Awareness Month?

While there is no official eating disorder awareness month, there is a National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. And according to the National Eating Disorders Association, National Eating Disorders Awareness Week will fall on February 22nd, 2021 and end on February 28th, 2021.  The American Psychiatric Association classifies five different types of eating disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition (DSM-5): Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder (BED), Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). Several decades of genetic research show that biological factors play a significant role in who develops an eating disorder. EDs commonly co-occur with other mental health conditions like major depression, anxiety, social phobia, and obsessive compulsive disorder.


Goals of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

The National Eating Disorders Association says that the goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is threefold: to educate the public on eating disorders, share a hopeful message, and allow those who need treatment (which may be life-saving for them) to gain access to the necessary resources. The prevailing message of 2021’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is to invite “Every Body to Have a Seat at the Table.” What the National Eating Disorders Association means by this is to highlight marginalized individuals and communities, because these demographics tend to find themselves underrepresented in conversations about disordered eating; their hope is to inspire conversations surrounding raising awareness, to fight against systemic biases, and inspire people hailing from all sorts of backgrounds to share their experiences.


Possible Symptoms of Eating Disorders

The National Eating Disorders Association lists a series of possible symptoms related to eating disorders. Some physical manifestations of an eating disorder may include:

  • Constantly feeling cold
  • Fainting
  • Issues with one’s sleep
  • Cuts and/or calluses across the top of finger joints, which could suggest inducing vomiting
  • Noticeable fluctuations (both up and down) of weight
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Dizziness, particularly when one stands up
  • Menstrual irregularities, such as missed periods or only experiencing a period when on hormonal contraceptives
  • Stomach cramps and other non-specific gastrointestinal issues such as constipation and acid reflux
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor wound healing
  • Abnormal laboratory results such as low hormone levels, anemia, low white and red blood cell counts, and low potassium
  • Brittle nails
  • Impaired immunity
  • Dry hair and skin
  • Fine hair on one’s body
  • Yellow skin (could be in the context of eating large amounts of carrots)
  • Swelling of feet
  • Swelling around the salivary glands
  • Discoloration of teeth and cavities, which may result from vomiting
  • Cold, mottled hands

Common behavioral and emotional signs of eating disorders may include:

  • A preoccupation with calories, food, weight, fat grams, carbohydrates, and dieting
  • Recurrent dieting
  • Appearing uncomfortable eating around other people
  • Taking small portions of food at regular meals
  • Behaviors and attitudes that point towards dieting, weight loss, and control of food becoming major concerns for an individual
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Skipping meals
  • Excessive chewing
  • Great concern with one’s body shape and size
  • Frequent checks in the mirror for supposed flaws in their appearance
  • Withdrawal from friends
  • Withdrawal from usual activities 
  • The refusal to eat specific foods, which can progress to restrictions against entire food groups (i.e. no carbohydrates)
  • Food rituals (only eating a particular food group or food)
  • Not allowing certain foods to touch


Eating Disorder Treatment

The National Eating Disorders Association says that leaving an individual suffering from an eating disorder untreated on both a physical and emotional level could lead to the development of potentially fatal conditions. Such conditions include malnutrition, heart problems, and more. If someone who is dealing with an eating disorder receives the needed medical care, he or she could be able to restore healthy eating habits, and heal both physically and psychologically.

If you or a loved one is experiencing disordered eating, we are here to help at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You may contact us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.

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