What To Read RIGHT NOW During National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

For the sake of the headline, I left out the ‘read AND listen to‘ because it seemed too long. (It’s the public relations career in me.) So, to clarify, I thought it might be handy if I put a little list together of resources I’ve seen circling around the web this week, speaking to eating disorders and recovery.

I asked some of you who follow my Instagram to provide suggestions as well, so below is a group of responses. Please feel free to comment your own pieces as well!

PODCAST

The Body Love Society: This is a bit of a plug for myself (I’m nothing if not transparent, eh?) but the founders of this rad speaker series reached out and I was lucky enough to be included in the NEVER DIET AGAIN: How to get off the diet rollercoaster, find balance and live a healthy life you actually enjoy.

Get useful advice from 22 of the top body image and anti-diet wellness experts on how to change your relationship with food, how you feel about your body and how to live a life full of joy and happiness that lets you no longer need to wait on the weight. It’s free. Click on the link I provided and sign up for mine (or others!)

NEVER DIET AGAIN_-2

Food Psych Podcast: Christy Harrison’s weekly podcast dedicated to helping you make peace with food and your body.

Dearest Oprah: Talli is the host, and she and I just recorded an interview on eating disorders and flexible recovery. Easy to engage with and relate to, I felt like I was fast friends with this lady immediately. Easiest interview I’ve done. Listen to her story – she’s got a good one.

NEWS

$3 Million Awarded for Binge Eating Research Study in Colorado: This one hits home as it’s in Colorado! After receiving a $3M grant through the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in December 2017, EDCare Denver and University of Colorado Denver’s Brain Research Program will begin collaborating on a five-year research study on binge eating.

Running In Silence: For Coaches – How to Help Athletes with Eating Disorders with Paula Quatromoni

BBC: Why Misconceptions of Eating Disorders Can Be Damaging

Salon: How Eating Disorders Became a White Women Problem

HuffPost: Anorexia and Bulimia Are Black Women’s Diseases, Too

CafeMom: Fat-Shaming is the Norm in Our Kids Favorite Shows

BOOKS

Hunger by Roxane Gay
*At its simplest, it’s a memoir about being fat — Gay’s preferred term — in a hostile, fat-phobic world. At its most symphonic, it’s an intellectually rigorous and deeply moving exploration of the ways in which trauma, stories, desire, language and metaphor shape our experiences and construct our reality.

PERSONAL NARRATIVES // BLOGS // ARTICLES

I’m Probably Overthinking This: It’s NEDA Awareness Week So I’m Writing A Thing
^Loved this.

A Therapist Recovered : Heavy post on sexual assault and the correlation to eating disorders. Good read.

Come On, Skinny Love: Loved this. Eloquently takes you through a break up that resulted in an eating disorder – and the way our culture praises weight loss, and how that can fuel an eating disorder.

Cookie Crumbs and Carrot Tops Secretly Still 13: Dealing With Moments of Insecurity

SheKnows.com: Yes, I Had an Eating Disorder, & No, I Won’t Show You Before and After Photos
*I wrote this.

Jess Lauren: Facebook post (full disclosure – I don’t know this person, but someone shared her post with me and I liked it.)

AND NOW… a couple Insta/Facebook posts from Y’ALL!

It’s easy to preach body acceptance when I’m feeling confident. But I have days when it’s freaking hard. I have triggers just like everyone else… getting in a swimsuit, seeing a particularly unflattering photo of myself, etc. These experiences once had profound power over me. They had the power to ruin my day, to force me to stay in instead of going out into the world. They’ve even had the power to lure me into considering returning to a life of starvation, substance abuse and misery—a life of completely destroying my body in the name of tiny arms + visible hipbones. But when I start to consider turning around and running back, I think of who I really was back then. 

When I was sick, I got a lot of attention. People told me habitually how thin I was, & I was completely addicted to the rush I got when I heard it. Comments on my photos became my gold star for the day. And all that attention was fun for a while, but unsurprisingly it turned dark quickly. I became intensely obsessed with how I looked, taking constant pictures of myself to make sure I looked thin enough. I NEVER. SHUT. UP. about calories + skipping meals and when my friends tried to talk to me I couldn’t focus or listen because I couldn’t think about anything other than being thin. As time passed, what once was enough suddenly wasn’t anymore. I needed to be skinnier & skinnier, I needed people to be worried about my size and no longer just complimentary. I was vain, I was self-obsessed, I was selfish. I was impossible to be around. I was miserable. 

My body looks different than it used to. But boy, so does my life. And the girl I see in the mirror now is someone I like a whole lot more. She is open + loving. She laughs without reservation and brings laughter into the lives of others. She no longer fears food but, instead, is thankful for the energy food gives her so that she can love others boldly. She is considerate and generous. She is a true friend because, unlike before, she has the ability to listen when others speak… the ability to care about something other than herself. She no longer hides, she steps out into the sunshine. She finally traded “skinny” for “free”. – MessyKitchGirl

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This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. This past Sunday, February 25th, also happened to be the day I celebrated three years free from eating disordered behaviors.
Three years ago, I walked through the doors of a residential treatment center for the last time. I was defeated, scared, and ashamed. I did not trust myself and I did not think I would ever get better. On Sunday, I celebrated three years of no purging, the eating disordered behavior that I struggled with most. Three years of actively choosing life over self-destruction, restriction, and isolation.
I no longer exist on a diet of “I’m sorry”, “I can’t”, or “I’m too scared”. I do not apologize for existing, for taking up space. I am learning to be comfortable with the needing, the wanting, and the go-getting that comes with the life I have worked tirelessly for. When I say “Yes” now, I mean “Yes”. I am learning to stand by my “No” and get reassurance from those I trust when I feel guilty for not being able to do everything and make everyone happy. I start conversations about advertisements that seem to perpetuate the same standards that fueled the eating disorder that practically killed me. If I wake up one day and I don’t feel confident, I don’t lay in bed, or go on a run, or starve or purge myself to confidence. I embrace it. I look in the mirror and tell myself “I don’t feel that confident today but it’s ok because with my bigger body comes a much bigger life”.
I know for certain that my weight does not equate to my value as a human being. I will continue to be an active voice, offering a different perspective for those who want to perpetuate diet culture. I will continue to let them know that although they may want to share, I actually do not want to hear about or talk about their diet. We’ve been culturally conditioned to believe that our appearance and our bodies are the most valuable things about us. They aren’t. Our passions are. Our relationships are. The way that we treat others is. A number on a scale will never define the incredible person that you are. 
I work everyday to be vulnerable and a vigorously honest person. I have learned to speak my truth while allowing myself to be fully seen. I choose to keep being open and willing. I breathe into the tears instead of holding my breath. I no longer stifle my laughter because I feel unworthy of happiness. Rather than minimizing or ignoring my what my heart says, I choose to recognize my needs. I nourish my body and in turn, I nourish my soul. I don’t engage in diet culture or connect with another person over their body, or someone else’s body. I compliment people on their intelligence, wit, or humor, and not on the size of their thigh-gap. I buy clothes that fit my body, regardless of the size. When I find myself struggling with self-acceptance, I apologize to myself. I tell myself I am sorry for not knowing what I know now. I have taken back my body. It was not made for the glorification of somebody else. I have learned that I cannot hate myself into loving myself. For a long time I stubbornly refused to acknowledge that I had any good qualities. I now can own that I am someone who possess courage, resiliency, humor, and compassion. I strive to fully embody my strengths and apply them harmoniously to heal emotional wounds that keep me from fully participating in my life. I understand that eating and keeping my food is, at its deepest level, a fundamental act of love and affirmation that I am deserving of living a life filled with abundance.
To those of you who are unsure if recovery is worth it. I promise you, it truly is. I used to think it was an unattainable goal for me. I wholeheartedly feel that everyone can get better. You have to choose it. Not just once, not just a few times. You have to choose recovery everyday. You have to choose love over fear, acceptance over resistance. – Madison JM
Becca
Love this gal @BetteringBecca

Today is the start of National Eating Disorder Awareness week. Last year, I shared my story publicly for the first time, so I thought it would be easy to post about my journey with anorexia today, but it is not. And yet, that’s why I feel I need to share it. There is still so much stigma and shame attached to eating disorders, and I want to be part of the change. 

I have suffered from Anorexia since I was 14 years old. My eating disorder was not a choice that I made, I would have never chosen this path for myself. But it did become my reality, it became my entire world. It started slowly, and then before I knew what had happened- it took over my entire life. By my junior year of high school, I was completely consumed by thoughts of food, weight and exercise. No amount of weight that I lost was ever enough, I didn’t see what other people saw. I thought people were lying when they said I looked sick, I thought my parents were overreacting when they tried to voice their concerns- my anorexia had morphed my view of myself and of everyone around me. I was no longer the goofy, caring Lauren that I had always been, I no longer had the energy to laugh, to be engaged in conversations, or to just be myself. I became depressed and so I isolated myself as much as I could. I couldn’t fathom my life being anything else, I was terrified of change and terrified of food.

By some miracle I graduated high school and thought I could go to college and everything would be fine. 

But my illness was there, every day, slowly killing me. My wonderful parents came to the painful realization that I needed more help, so they sent me to an inpatient treatment center for eating disorders in October of that year. I learned so much in treatment, I learned the deeper purpose of my eating disorder (because it’s NOT about the food, the food and weight are just physical symptoms of an eating disorder) and I began to learn to eat again. I made friendships with people who understood me and who challenged me. Treatment saved my life. 

But that is not where recovery ends, eating disorders are not something that can be “fixed” in a matter of months. My eating disorder had been a significant part of my life for 5 years, it was going to take time and the fight of my life to overcome it. In the 3 years since I left treatment, I have relapsed, I have slipped, I have wanted to give up, I have prayed more prayers through tears and with a broken spirit than ever before. But I have also laughed, and built friendships and graduated from the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, I have grown closer to my Heavenly Father than I thought possible, I have lived my life. 

I still have to choose recovery every single day, I have to go to battle every time I sit down to a meal, but I have something now that I didn’t think was possible 4 years ago- I have hope. 

I am sharing my story with you all today because at least 30 million people in the U.S. are suffering from an eating disorder, and if you are one of them, I want you to know that there is hope. Recovery is real. And you deserve to live. And even if you don’t have an eating disorder, I guarantee that someone in your life does. 

Please reach out, educate yourself. Feel free to message me or go to  https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org – Lauren Downs

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