National Eating Disorders Association
Blog

How NEDA Inspired Change

Oriana Laflamme

I didn’t choose to have an eating disorder, but rather an eating disorder decided to choose me. Years ago, my “innocent” diet crossed a line from disordered eating to a full-blown eating disorder. I didn’t realize that I had a biological predisposition to an eating disorder or that there was a psychological component. As a successful corporate career executive juggling infants/toddlers (with a traveling husband), while also caring for aging parents with significant health issues, my environment made for the perfect storm which led me down a road to anorexia.

My recovery journey, like many, was neither perfect nor linear – with so many speed bumps along the way. The road to recovery wasn’t as fast as I wanted; it was harder than I ever imagined and certainly nothing I could ever prepare for. Through the support of resources provided by NEDA, family and friends, and my treatment team, I know recovery is possible and I live a life completely free from my eating disorder. It was through the resources provided by NEDA that enabled me to get the information I needed at the time, always with an empathetic, supportive listening ear on the other end of the line.

Although I had a completely different career at the time, I always wanted to give back in some way and help others. I desperately wanted to help de-stigmatize eating disorders and give a voice to those that had lost theirs through this insidious illness. I chose to read legislative action related to eating disorders and understand the impact it would have.  I also wanted to be a healthy mom and role model for my two sons. I felt compelled to help change the conversation our adolescents were having about negative body image and social media weight-shaming, and show them that body acceptance and self-esteem are possible.

I initially got involved with the National Eating Disorders Association through NEDA walks and legislative advocacy.  My first NEDA walk was over 4 years ago and as I left, I felt the need to do more with the organization.  Shortly after my first walk, I drove down to Washington D.C. to lobby at an eating disorders advocacy day. Full disclosure: I was apprehensive to speak about my personal story, and knowing it might help others gave me the strength to do so. Several years later, I have seen the positive impact of participating in NEDA’s legislative efforts, including bills passed to help those impacted by eating disorders.

Upon my return from DC there was no stopping me!  With the full support of my husband, I was able to leave the corporate world and pursue my passion in the eating disorders field. If I could make even the slightest difference, I knew it would be worth it! I amped up my time spent on eating disorders research and returned to school to become certified in the areas I felt would make the biggest impact.

As I became more immersed in the field, I wanted to further my involvement with NEDA. I started volunteering on the NEDA helpline in August 2018, got trained to facilitate the Body Project (which I now deliver to adolescents throughout the country to improve body image and self-esteem), and this year, I was a walk coordinator for the Fairfield County NEDA walk - raising critical funds to help further the work NEDA does on a consistent basis.

By volunteering with NEDA, I am able to give back and help others, work alongside compassionate volunteers, and be aligned with an organization that believes in a world, one day, without eating disorders.

Oriana’s passion for nutrition and health stemmed from learning to develop her own positive relationship with food. Oriana’s personal journey taught her that every individual deserves wholesome nutrition and each person is unique in their personal health goals and recovery. Several years ago, Oriana left her corporate executive career to pursue her passion and now works with individuals and groups to transform their relationship with food so they can go on to live healthy fulfilled lives. Her lighthearted way is both engaging and motivating with everyone she has the opportunity to engage with. Through NEDA, she works on legislative advocacy, fundraising events, Helpline support, walk organization, and is trained to facilitate the "Body Project" program.