First of all, “I think the term eating disorders is misleading. An eating disorder is a complex problem and it doesn’t have a simple solution,” said one member of My Signature Nutrition’s Eating Disorders Support Group in Tyler, Texas. Other members agreed and emphasized that an eating disorder is not about food or weight or body or vanity, it’s about something much deeper.
As part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2015, our support group discussed messages about eating disorders that they wanted everyone to know. The most important message that had complete consensus among group members was that eating disorders are serious; that they are not something to joke about, overlook, or a phase that will eventually pass. All members agreed that the seriousness of eating disorders are often overlooked by the public- and not just strangers, but also close friends and family members. One group member said that her “family knows nothing about eating disorders.” Members felt the lack of education and information on eating disorders from those who cared about them most was hurtful. “If you could just read or learn about eating disorders that would be really supportive to me.”
Group members also wanted family members, particularly parents, to know that they did not cause their eating disorder; therefore they [parents] could not control it or fix it. However, members said that parents could contribute to their eating disorder thereby making it worse. They also said that parents could support them by learning about eating disorders and by treating them normally.
Other frequent misunderstandings of eating disorders that the group identified include: you cannot tell if someone has an eating disorder by looking at them, that eating disorders are much more common than people think, and that a lot of people have disordered eating.
They also said that if they could go back and offer advice to their younger selves they would say:
- “You are going to miss out on a lot.”
- “You don’t need to diet.”
- “Be better to yourself. Listen to your own wants and desires.”
Furthermore, they said that their struggles with an eating disorder had taught them a lot about life and has given them gifts of perception, compassion, and patience. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I had not gone through everything I did.”
Group members wanted others who are struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating to know that “you are not alone.” Members emphasized that there is help and that you can get better, but it takes time and support.
Thank you to all My Signature Nutrition Group Members for your valuable insight!
To learn more about East Texas’s only Eating Disorders Support Group click here.