National Eating Disorders Association
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“Be sure to eat your vegetables.” For me, this saying was an everyday staple of my childhood, and although it has been nearly half a decade since I last lived with my parents, I still try my best to follow a healthy diet and lead a healthy lifestyle. During my freshman and sophomore years in college, though, I entrapped myself in this philosophy to the point that I was becoming withdrawn from my friends and creating a relationship with food that was devoid of enjoyment at both the social and sensory levels.

The first time I learned about “spring break diets,” I was 15 years old. One of my best friends, who was a few years older, was going to a music festival in Florida for spring break. In the weeks leading up to her trip, she started exercising a lot and no longer wanted to share food with me. At first, I thought she was just transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, but as soon as she got back from Florida, she started to binge eat. 

“I’m so glad I get to eat this stuff again,” she told me. “I missed it so much.”

When someone mentions Ohio, my home state, they usually think football, the Midwest, and buckeyes, but from personal experience, mental health and eating disorder awareness/prevention do not always come to mind. As a kid, a close relative of mine struggled with her eating disorder and still does. It is due to that personal experience that my mother taught me about positive body image and loving one’s self. Unfortunately, often others do not always have those conversations. 

As International Day of Happiness trends across social media, remember that you don’t have to wear a smile all the time. Wherever you are in your mental health journey, there are simple ways to make the world a kinder place. Here are seven tips to get you started: 

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! … It’s 5:30am and the alarm is going off. It’s Tuesday morning. My stomach does a flip when I realize what day it is. However, I’m not anxious about the dreaded morning weight circuit, like most of my teammates are, I’m anxious because it might be weigh in day. 

Let me start off by saying that I genuinely love giving people compliments. I love spreading kindness and when it comes to compliments, I don’t hold back. With that being said, I will not compliment someone’s weight loss and I don’t think you should either for the following reasons:

For all of my childhood, I was considered "overweight." Whether it was my food choices or just genetics I'm not sure, but I was okay with it. I was a happy kid and I enjoyed life and everything it had to offer. As I started to get older, people like family friends, coaches, and peers would say things to me or my parents about my weight. 

Citing rising “childhood obesity rates,” Fitbit is set to launch the Fitbit Ace this spring, a device meant for children. The $100 device will allow kids eight and older to track their steps, along with “an occasional reminder to get off the couch.”

"Dear KJ" is a monthly advice column by Dr. Kjerstin "KJ" Gruys, sociologist, author, and body image activist. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology with a focus on the politics of appearance and is the author of Mirror Mirror Off the Wall: How I Learned to Love My Body By Not Looking at It for a Year (Avery Press, 2012).

This past National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAwareness), more than 90 iconic landmarks in dozens of cities were lit in the signature blue and green colors of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) to put a spotlight on the seriousness of eating disorders.

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