Eating Disorder Awareness

Eating disorders are pretty common illnesses, and to spread awareness, National Eating Disorder Awareness Week falls on Feb. 20 to Feb. 26.

  “It’s important to highlight eating disorders this week because it’s not discussed enough, and eating disorders are serious life-threatening illnesses that impact millions each year. It’s estimated that approximately half a million teens struggle with eating disorders,” Elle Burgess, a counselor at the high school, said.

There are many different types of eating disorders, the most commonly known ones are anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and more, however, what most people don’t commonly know are the effects that eating disorders can have on a person.

“Eating disorders can affect your heart health, your physical health, your mental health, and then additionally for women in the future, their fertility can be affected,” Lauren Ahlers, the county wellness coordinator, said. 

While some of the impacts of eating disorders seem to be temporary, eating disorders can have greater effects. 

“Eating disorders that go untreated can have long-lasting impacts on our nutrition and our health,” Ahlers said. 

Eating disorders are also mental illnesses, which can alter one’s brain, making it harder to reach out for help.

“I think eating disorders are tricky because they are often done very privately, so to talk about it is a really challenging thing to do, and it takes a lot of strength to admit you need help, but admitting you need help might feel like a weakness, but it really is a strength and a difficult thing to do,” Ahlers said. 

Within the city, there are lots of resources for students to go to when they are struggling and need to seek help. 

“In the building, you can talk to your counselor, the wellness coordinator, our social worker, or any trusted adult in the building, hopefully, someone at home, you should speak to a parent, as well as a pediatrician, doctor, or therapist. Also, many great community resources are available in the Grand Rapids area such as Network 180 and Arbor Circle,” Burgess said. 

Within the high school as well, Ahlers will also be creating groups for students to discuss different topics, a few of them being depression, anxiety, and many more, and eating disorders could also potentially be one of these talked-about topics. 

Eating disorders can be hard to confess, but it is a strength, and it is the best thing someone struggling can do. 

“If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, the best thing you can do is ask for help,” Ahlers concludes.