Participate in World Eating Disorders Action Day
Each June, members of the eating disorder community unite to recognize World Eating Disorders Action Day (WEDAD). People experiencing eating disorders firsthand, along with the friends, families, providers, researchers, and policymakers who support them, rally across the globe around a common goal of understanding, connection, and healing.
We invite you to join us this year. Here are five actions you can take today to support eating disorder awareness, education, and recovery.
1. Learn about eating disorders.
Eating disorders are complex, confusing illnesses. Many myths and stereotypes surround them, including the common misconception that they are a choice and only affect thin, young, white cisgender women.
In reality, eating disorders are brain-based illnesses that affect people across all social groups. Over 70 million people worldwide are estimated to be affected, including roughly 30 million in the United States.
To learn more eating disorder facts, check out this “ED 101: Understanding Eating Disorders, Treatment, and Recovery” presentation or podcast episode. Each resource provides a general overview of eating disorder causes, types, warning signs, and treatment options.
To dive deeper into the topic of eating disorders, consider information in support of this year’s WEDAD theme, #Equity4EatingDisorders. The following resources explore eating disorder experiences that differ from the stereotypical narrative:
- People of color with eating disorders: “Episode 14: Eating Disorders Aren’t Just a Thin White Woman’s Disease” (Peace Meal episode) and “Beyond ‘Eating Disorders Don’t Discriminate’”
- Transgender individuals with eating disorders: “Eating Disorders in the Transgender Community”
- Lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals with eating disorders: “Eating Disorders in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community”
- Men with eating disorders: “How Do Eating Disorders Present in Males?”
2. Talk about eating disorders.
One of the most powerful tools we have in the collective fight against eating disorders is talking about them. These illnesses are often shrouded in secrecy, shame, and stigma, and open conversation allows us to bring them to light and understanding.
Here are some ways to bring eating disorders into conversation:
- Join the WEDAD dialogue on social media using the hashtags #WorldEatingDisordersDay and #Equity4EatingDisorders
- Raise awareness of stigmatizing or inaccurate depictions of eating disorders by providing feedback to press, brands, and other content creators
- Share one of the recovery stories featured on The Emily Program’s blog or podcast, or—if you feel comfortable—reach out to share your own
If you suspect someone you love may be experiencing an eating disorder, now is the time to talk about that as well. To approach the conversation, ask your loved one whether it is ok to discuss their eating habits (“I’m concerned about your eating. May we discuss how you typically eat and your relationship with food?”). Then ask the following six questions:
- Do you feel like you sometimes lose or have lost control over how you eat?
- Do you ever make yourself sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
- Do you believe yourself to be fat, even when others say you are too thin?
- Do food or thoughts about food dominate your life?
- Do thoughts about changing your body or weight dominate your life?
- Have others become worried about your weight and/or eating?
In this informal survey, two or more “yes” answers strongly indicate the presence of disordered eating. Encourage your loved one to reach out for a professional assessment. The Emily Program is available seven days a week at 1-888-364-5977.
3. Advocate for eating disorders policy change.
Legislative advocacy is an action that can bring change at both a local and federal level. Make your stance known on eating disorder issues by joining with an organization like The Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action (EDC), which advances the recognition of eating disorders as a public health priority throughout the United States.
Current policy efforts at the national level include:
- The Nutrition CARE Act, which would provide coverage for medical nutrition therapy through Medicare.
- The SERVE Act, which would substantially increase access to eating disorders care for servicemembers and their families covered under TRICARE.
To support and stay aware of eating disorders policy initiatives, sign up for the EDC’s text message action alerts. You’ll be notified about easy opportunities to contact your Members of Congress as they arise throughout the year.
4. Support an eating disorder organization.
There are numerous organizations dedicated to eating disorder prevention, education, and recovery. Consider lending your time as a volunteer or contributing financially to one that benefits those affected by these illnesses.
Among the organizations The Emily Program supports are:
- WithAll, whose mission is to prevent eating disorders and support recovery with simple, accessible tools. One of its activities is providing living-expense grants to people receiving eating disorder treatment.
- The Center for Balanced Living, which aims to raise eating disorder awareness, advocacy, support, and scholarship.
Find additional eating disorder-related organizations here.
5. Make a step toward eating disorder recovery.
If you are in the process of recovering from an eating disorder, the most important action to take this WEDAD is a step in the direction of your own healing. It doesn’t have to be grand and it doesn’t have to be perfect; even a small, imperfect step is progress.
Some powerful steps toward recovery include:
- Unfollowing a social media account that triggers you
- Asking a friend or family member to support you in choosing a new snack food
- Stepping on the scale one fewer time this week
- Turning off the TV or setting aside your phone to more mindfully eat your next meal
- Telling yourself one body-positive or body-neutral affirmation the next time you look in the mirror
Much like the steps taken in recovery, the actions taken this WEDAD and beyond add up. Each time one of us learns more or speaks out about eating disorders, our collective effort is stronger and our voice is louder.
Eating disorders are fierce illnesses, but together we are fiercer.