February 24th-March 1st is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Here we will be sharing some great books, both non-fiction and fiction to help provide information and help anyone struggling feel less alone.
Ink in Water by Lacy J. Davis -- "At once punk rock and poignant, Ink in Water is the visceral and groundbreaking graphic memoir of a young woman’s devastating struggle with negative body image and eating disorders, and how she rose above her own destructive behaviors and feelings of inadequacy to live a life of strength and empowerment."
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson -- "Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss—her life—and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend's memory and racked with guilt for not being able to help save her. In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia's struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all: hope."
It Was Me All Along: A Memoir by Andie Mitchell -- "A heartbreakingly honest, endearing memoir of incredible weight loss by a young food blogger who battles body image issues and overcomes food addiction to find self-acceptance."
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen -- "To find the truth you’ve got to be willing to hear it. When she’s modeling, Annabel is the picture of perfection. But her real life is far from perfect. Fortunately, she’s got Owen. He’s intense, music-obsessed, and dedicated to always telling the truth. And most of all, he’s determined to make Annabel happy..."
Believarexic by J.J. Johnson -- "Asking for help is only the first step. Jennifer can’t go on like this—binging, purging, starving, and all while trying to appear like she’s got it all together. But when she finally confesses her secret to her parents and is hospitalized at the Samuel Tuke Center, her journey is only beginning."
Fat Chance by Leslie Newman -- "Judi Liebowitz thinks she's fat. And she's convinced, as she confides in her diary, that she'd be happier if she were skinnier. So when Judi becomes friendly with pencil-thin, glamorous Nancy Pratt, she learns Nancy's secret and joins her in the secret binge-and-purge cycles of bulimia. Before long, Judi's life spins out of control and her obsession with food, calories, and pounds is no longer another typical eighth-grade problem--it's a matter of life and death."
The New David Espinoza by Fred Aceves -- "David Espinoza is tired of being messed with. When a video of him getting knocked down by a bully’s slap goes viral at the end of junior year, David vows to use the summer to bulk up— do what it takes to become a man—and wow everyone when school starts again the fall. Soon David is spending all his time and money at Iron Life, a nearby gym that’s full of bodybuilders. Frustrated with his slow progress, his life eventually becomes all about his muscle gains. As David falls into the dark side of the bodybuilding world, pursuing his ideal body at all costs, he’ll have to grapple with the fact that it could actually cost him everything."
Paperweight by Meg Haston -- "Paperweight follows seventeen-year-old Stevie’s journey as she struggles not only with a life-threatening eating disorder, but with the question of whether she can ever find absolution for the mistakes of her past…and whether she truly deserves to."
If you or someone you know if suffering from an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating these are great to share! If you're unsure, some of the signs of an eating disorder include:
Restricting food or dieting
Making excuses to avoid meals or situations involving food (e.g. they had a big meal earlier, aren’t hungry, or have an upset stomach)
Eating only tiny portions or specific low-calorie foods, and often banning entire categories of food such as carbs and dietary fat
Obsessively counting calories, reading food labels, and weighing portions
Developing restrictive food rituals such as eating foods in certain orders, rearranging food on a plate, excessive cutting or chewing.
Taking diet pills, prescription stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin, or even illegal drugs such as amphetamines.
Unexplained disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time
Lots of empty food packages and wrappers, often hidden at the bottom of the trash
Hoarding and hiding stashes of high-calorie foods such as junk food and sweets
Secrecy and isolation; may eat normally around others, only to binge late at night or in a private spot where they won’t be discovered or disturbed
Disappearing right after a meal or making frequent trips to the bathroom
Showering, bathing, or running water after eating to hide the sound of purging
Using excessive amounts of mouthwash, breath mints, or perfume to disguise the smell of vomiting
Taking laxatives, diuretics, or enemas
Periods of fasting or compulsive, intense exercising, especially after eating
Frequent complaints of sore throat, upset stomach, diarrhea, or constipation
Distorted body image and altered appearance
Extreme preoccupation with body or weight (e.g. constant weigh-ins, spending lots of time in front of the mirror inspecting and criticizing their body)
Significant weight loss, rapid weight gain, or constantly fluctuating weight
Frequent comments about feeling fat or overweight, or about a fear of gaining weight
Wearing baggy clothes or multiple layers in an attempt to hide weight
What should you do if you see these signs among a friend or loved one?
Learn as much as you can about eating disorders. Read books, articles, and brochures. Know the difference between facts and myths about weight, nutrition, and exercise. Knowing the facts will help you reason with your friend about any inaccurate ideas that may be fueling their disordered eating patterns.
Talk to them! Rehearse what you want to say. This may help reduce your anxiety and clarify exactly what you want to say. Other people have found writing out their main points helpful.
Set a private time and place to talk. No one wants to have personal issues dissected in front of a crowd, so make sure you find a time and place where you will have time to discuss your concerns without being rushed or in front of a crowd.
Be honest. Talk openly and honestly about your concerns with the person who is struggling with eating or body image problems. Avoiding it or ignoring it won’t help!
Use “I” statements. Focus on behaviors that you have personally observed, such as “I have noticed that you aren’t eating dinner with us anymore,” or “I am worried about how frequently you are going to the gym.” It’s easy to sound accusatory (“You’re not eating! You’re exercising too much!”), which can cause a person to feel defensive. Instead, stick to pointing out what you’ve observed. If you can, also point out behaviors not related to eating and weight, which may be easier for the person to see and accept.
Stick to the facts. Raising concerns about a potential eating disorder can bring up lots of emotions, and it’s important not to let those run the show. Instead, talk about behaviors and changes you have observed and calmly point out why you are concerned (“I have seen you run to the bathroom after meals and feel worried you might be making yourself throw up.”).
Be caring, but be firm. Caring about your friend does not mean being manipulated by them. Your friend must be responsible for their actions and the consequences of those actions. Avoid making rules, promises, or expectations that you cannot or will not uphold. For example, “I promise not to tell anyone.” Or, “If you do this one more time, I’ll never talk to you again.”
Remove potential stigma. Remind your loved one that there’s no shame in admitting you struggle with an eating disorder or other mental health issue. Many people will be diagnosed with these issues during their lifetimes, and many will recover.
Avoid overly simplistic solutions. Being told “Just stop” or “Just eat” isn’t helpful. It can leave the sufferer feeling frustrated, defensive, and misunderstood.
Be prepared for negative reactions. Some eating disorder sufferers are glad that someone has noticed they are struggling. Others respond differently. Some may become angry and hostile, insisting that you are the one with the problem. Others may brush off your concerns or minimize potential dangers. Both of these responses are normal. Reiterate your concerns, let them know you care, and leave the conversation open.
Encourage them to seek professional help. Many eating disorder sufferers require professional help in order to get better. Offer to help the sufferer find a physician or therapist if they don’t have one, or attend an appointment where the eating disorder is discussed. Getting timely, effective treatment dramatically increases a person’s chances for recovery. If your loved one is ready to seek treatment or you want to explore options, the NEDA Helpline is a great place to start. Contact the Helpline >
Tell someone. It may seem difficult to know when, if at all, to tell someone else about your concerns. Addressing body image or eating problems in their beginning stages offers your friend the best chance for working through these issues and becoming healthy again. Don’t wait until the situation is so severe that your friend’s life is in danger. Your friend needs a great deal of support and understanding.
Contact the National Eating Disorders Association Hotline for Help: (800) 931-2237
Helpline phone hours are Monday-Thursday from 11AM to 9PM ET, and Friday from 11AM to 5PM ET.