5 Things People Need To Do To Help End The Eating Disorder Epidemic
Today, nearly 10 million Americans — more than double the number of nearly 5 years ago — struggle with eating disorders. The number of people who seek treatment for an eating disorder has increased nearly 80 percent since 2010.
But why? Why is the eating disorder epidemic growing so quickly? And what can men do to help end this disease before it takes a loved one? The answer lies in the cultural shift that society has undergone. In today’s world, it’s never been easier to attain unhealthy image ideals and unrealistic body standards. With social media and magazine covers constantly bombarding us with images of slender models we can aspire to be, it’s no surprise that almost everyone now thinks they can be model-thin without any consequences.
The result? An increase in appearance-driven eating disorders among men and girls across all age groups. If you see signs of an eating disorder among your loved ones or friends, don’t wait another second! Don’t let anyone else suffer in silence as they try to recover. Here are five things you need to do right now if you want to help end the eating disorder epidemic before it takes someone you love:
Talk About It
In the age of social media, when everyone is constantly connected and posting about their lives on Instagram or Snapchat, it’s extra important to talk about your struggles. If you have a loved one who has an eating disorder — or if you struggle with one yourself — reach out to them and make sure they know someone cares about them. Seek professional help and look for an eating disorder therapist to help talk things out even more.
Be A Role Model
We know that there are many things that contribute to eating disorders. But if you want to help end the epidemic, one of the best things you can do is to be a role model for healthy body image. If your loved ones see you modeling a healthy relationship with food, they’ll be more likely to follow suit with their own decisions and behavior.
This first step is the most important. If you see someone struggling with an eating disorder, it’s important to show them compassion. Sharing your own troubles or experiences with an eating disorder is also a great way to help someone who might be struggling. By showing that you have empathy for their situation, you can help them realize that they are not alone — there are people who care about them and want to help. If you’re worried about saying something too judgmental, start by simply listening to what your loved one has to say. The more you learn about what they’re going through and how they feel, the more comfortable you’ll feel in reaching out to them later on.
The first step to ending the eating disorder epidemic is fighting stigma. Eating disorders are largely stigmatized and shamed, which can lead to keeping developing into a full-blown disorder. Keep in mind that it’s not your fault if you or someone close to you develops an eating disorder. In fact, eating disorders are caused by biological, environmental, and social factors that cause distress and symptoms.
If you want to do anything about the eating disorder epidemic, you need to understand what it is. It’s not a diet or a fad — it’s a serious medical condition that can cause long-term physical and mental health consequences. The more educated you are about eating disorders, the better prepared you will be to intervene if needed.
It starts with demanding change. Demand that the media stop promoting unhealthy body standards and unrealistic image ideals. Demand that the fashion industry be held accountable for creating a culture where nearly everyone thinks thin = beautiful. Demand that society as a whole start seeing beauty in all bodies, including those who don’t measure up to these weight or appearance standards. If you see someone struggling with an eating disorder, help them by gently pointing out what they are doing wrong. Help them see how their struggles aren’t worth it and that they deserve to be loved just as they are! If you can’t say anything, at least do your part by refusing to buy into this superficial culture that relies on thinness and perfection. Let them know you want them to reach their full potential and be healthy, happy, and confident in who they are.
One of the most important things you can do is to talk about eating disorders. You may be the only person who understands their loved one’s struggle, and you might be the only person who can help them find a solution. If your friend or family member is struggling with an eating disorder, tell them how you feel and what you want to see for their future.