It’s been about three months since I told Dina “yes” to the role of Executive Director of EDIN, the Eating Disorders Information Network. It’s already been quite a learning experience for me—running a business on top of the one that I just started for my private practice—with little business experience besides a few classes in college. Sometimes I ask myself, “What am doing?” and I’m sure my husband thinks the same when as he glances at me shuffling through the boxes, binders, pamphlets and overflowing notebooks on (and under and beside) our dining room table. However, deep down I know the reason why I said “yes.”
Before I relocated to Georgia over the summer, I worked at a children’s hospital eating disorder clinic. Working with teens with this disease was new for me. I had always worked with adults with eating disorders. So, I met with adolescents who were restricting, binging, purging, taking laxatives, and exercising their lives away. But I also regularly met with children who were 8, 9, and 10 years old with the same problems. One of my patients who struggled with restrictive eating and body image issues was 5 years old. She played with my food models in my office like they were her toys. All the while telling us her tummy was too big. Obviously, it was heart breaking.
Eventually, I discovered a positive side to kids with eating disorders: their resilience. In many cases, all they needed was some education, words of reassurance, a few sessions of therapy, and a couple rules to follow. Sometimes it would just take one or two appointments of explaining how metabolism works for kids to realize their bodies would be just fine eating three meals, snacks, and *gasp* even dessert. Now, I’m not trying to downplay how challenging it is to recover from an eating disorder. Many patients fought and struggled with their “ED” for a very long period of time, eventually requiring residential treatment. What I am saying is that there is so much POTENTIAL for prevention in the former group of children who need some simple resources to get back on track.
What if these resources –the education, reassurance, and time to talk about food and feelings—were provided to ALL kids? What if it were a requirement in schools? A law? If that were the case, I believe at least half of those children wouldn’t have needed to walk through the doors of that eating disorder clinic.
This is why I said “yes” to EDIN. Let’s not wait to act until our kids start dieting or obsessing over the scale. Let’s address these issues now with EDUCATION and AWARENESS, so that eating disorders can be PREVENTED before our children begin counting calories and cutting food groups.
Education, awareness, and prevention are part of EDIN’s mission and you can take part in this cause. I invite you to say “yes” to EDIN and to donate in support of our prevention programs. Your contribution will allow EDIN to further develop our curriculum and expand our reach to more schools in the community. Let’s fight this disease so that our children won’t have to!
Find out how you can contribute by visiting out Get Involved page.