National Eating Disorders Association

5 Ways to Maximize Your NEDA Conference Experience

Nancy Hemendinger

What to Expect:

If you are searching for answers to questions you have about eating disorders, this is the conference for you to attend. The National Eating Disorder Association’s Conference has become an annual event for my family. Unlike the unpredictable and fearful nature of eating disorders, the NEDA conference is familiar, comforting and validating. You will find a unique blending of passionate professionals and lay people affected in one way or another by eating disorders.

There will be medical doctors, clinicians, psychologists, educators, those who are in treatment or recovery and family members of those who have been affected. Conference participants may come from diverse walks of life; however their purpose is the same…to provide hope. The various workshops focus on prevention efforts, research to better understand and treat eating disorders, advocacy efforts to increase awareness and secure treatment and a family component to support those going through the treatment and recovery processes.  There is great support and no judgment. Through the NEDA conference, I have gained an extended family who understands my family’s battle and recovery from the world of eating disorders.  

Tips for Maximizing Your Experience:

  1. Be sure to pack comfortable shoes. The NEDA conference is much more than workshops.
  2. If you arrive Thursday evening, consider attending the Parents, Family and Friends Network dinner. This event is a wonderful opportunity to meet others who have or are going through the recovery process.
  3. By participating in the Friday morning Buddy Group Activity, you will be quickly introduced to other conference participants.  You may not spend every moment with your initial group, but it is comforting to see familiar faces throughout the conference.
  4. Be sure to make note of the Round Table Series. This event is a way to touch base with those who have had similar eating disorder experiences. Professionals facilitate discussions separated into specialty groups which include: For Dads, Moms and Partners-Supporting Your Child or Love One and Practicing Self Care, Impact of Eating Disorders on Siblings and Sexual and Gender Identity.
  5. One of the empathetic consideration provided by NEDA during the conference is the setting aside of a hospitality room for participants who may be feeling overwhelmed. The hospitality room is a quiet debriefing area.

Four years ago as I walked into my first NEDA conference, I was anxious about spending two days surrounded by a topic that had been so damaging to my family.  As the 2013 NEDA conference approaches, I am looking forward to a weekend of learning, support and laughter…all of which I have found with my NEDA family.