National Eating Disorders Association
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Understanding Eating Disorders

In the world of public health prevention, we have an idea called “strategic science.” Basically, the idea is that when we set out to design a new study, we ought to be thinking about how the study findings could be used by policymakers and communities to make change happen to benefit people – real people, like you or your children, your friends and neighbors, or the people in a neighborhood across town. It’s a simple idea, but it demands a pretty radical departure from the more typical way that study ideas get out of the gate.

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Yesterday marked the final day of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA)’s National Conference in partnership with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Titled “Building Resilient Communities Through Collaboration,” the conference united survivors, caregivers, and treatment professionals for vital conversations about binge eating disorder (BED), body image and weight shaming, and marginalized communities. 

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The Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) in partnership with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) kicked off its 2017 National Conference in New York City. Titled “Building Resilient Communities Through Collaboration,” the day united survivors, caregivers, and treatment professionals for vital conversations about binge eating disorder (BED), body image and weight shaming, and marginalized communities. 

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“Dear Melody” is an advice column by Dr. Melody Moore, a clinical psychologist, yoga instructor, and the founder of the Embody Love Movement Foundation. Her foundation is a non-profit whose mission is to empower girls and women to celebrate their inner beauty, commit to kindness, and contribute to meaningful change in the world. Dr. Moore is a social entrepreneur who trains facilitators on how to teach programs to prevent negative body image and remind girls and women of their inherent worth.

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The first time I heard about eating disorders, I was in middle school. Our health class watched a film on the dangers of extreme dieting, and the implications it could have on mental and physical health. I watched intently as the film portrayed the typical narrative of a middle-class Caucasian girl who was on a dangerous path toward starvation. At the time, it was inconceivable to me that I could ever develop an eating disorder. I was just an average sized African-American girl who loved food. 

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I've noticed a tremendous inconsistency throughout my years of eating disorder treatment. When I was in treatment for anorexia nervosa purging type, one of the first parts of my recovery was weight restoration. I felt like before I even got into the work of dissecting how/where my eating disorder started, I was required to gain weight.

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On September 21, NEDA asked Twitter to respond to the question “Does your school have eating disorder resources?” After collecting responses from 405 people, the results showed that the schools of nearly half of these respondents (46%) had no resources in place. The rest of the results were as follows: 14% said “Yes,” 17% said “Very few,” and 23% said “Not sure.”  

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As someone who attended a public high school, health education was a really valuable class to me. While some may have considered it a joke of a class or an “easy A,” tackling topics like substance abuse, domestic violence/abusive relationships, obesity, and mental illness are extremely relevant to teens today.

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Yes, eating disorder treatment involves all the wonderful things that are delicately spelled out in pastel pamphlets. Yes, there can be yoga mats and Rumi and more gentle nodding than the normal neck could take. 

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One of the most common questions I’ve received as both a clinician and an eating disorder survivor is how to know whether someone truly has an eating disorder. In this day and age, when food fads and diets come and go quickly and people so regularly, casually discuss the manner in which they “eat their feelings” as a means of coping, it can be hard to discern when one’s eating practices morph from disordered eating into an eating disorder.

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