The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is a nonprofit organization that helps people struggling with eating disorders. As described on their website, their mission is multi-pronged:
- Raise awareness about eating disorders
- Build communities of support and recovery
- Fund research related to eating disorders
- Deliver life-saving resources to those in need
What are eating disorders?
Eating disorders encompass a large range of abnormal, disturbed eating behaviors, often accompanied by an intense fear of gaining weight. They are serious but treatable mental health disorders that cause physical and emotional harm and can be life-threatening.
According to NEDA, it is estimated that 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Although women ages 12-35 are most commonly diagnosed with eating disorders, they can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, body shape or weight.
There are many known eating disorders, but the most commonly diagnosed include anorexia nervosa (anorexia), bulimia nervosa (bulimia) and binge eating disorder (BED).
- Anorexia: Those with anorexia have an intense fear of weight gain and a distorted self-image. Although they are often dangerously thin and may perceive themselves as overweight. They may limit their caloric intake so severely that their body suffers from malnutrition and starvation. This lack of nutrients causes adverse health conditions, affecting organs and normal body functions, which can result in death.
- Bulimia: Those with bulimia eat large amounts of food at one time (binge), then purge to get rid of calories. Purging may be done by vomiting, use of diuretics, laxatives, enemas, diet pills or fasting. Some people who have bulimia are thin, but others may be of average weight or even overweight.
- Binge eating disorder: Those with BED regularly or frequently overeat, consuming large amounts of food at one time. They continue to eat even when full and feel unable to stop eating. Those with BED don’t purge or use other means to rid the body of excess calories. They may be of normal weight, but most often are overweight or obese.
Although anorexia and bulimia are most commonly associated with life-threatening consequences, BED is also dangerous, as it can contribute to heart disease, diabetes and other serious disorders. According to NEDA, “eating disorders have the second highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders, surpassed only by opioid addiction.”
It’s essential that those with eating disorders get treatment, but many with the condition are ashamed to ask for help or simply don’t know where to turn for help. NEDA, with its vast array of programs, education and other resources, can be the perfect place to start.
Find out more about NEDA’s programs and services:
Helpline volunteers are available Monday-Thursday from 9AM to 9PM ET, and Friday from 9AM to 5PM ET. They can offer support, answer questions, and provide guidance in locating treatment options. The helpline can be accessed in several ways:
- You can call (800) 931-2237 to speak to a volunteer.
- Click to chat for instant messaging option. Live, trained volunteer will respond.
- Crisis situations – text “NEDA” to 741741. A trained volunteer will provide immediate support.
The NEDA Get Screened tool helps people ages 13 and over determine if they may be struggling with an eating disorder. The tool asks a series of questions and helps to identify warning signs of an eating disorder, and whether it may be time to seek professional help. NEDA cautions that this screening is an informational guideline only, and not a replacement for clinical evaluation.
NEDA provides guidance on first steps to recovery:
- How to start the conversation about a possible eating disorder
- First steps to treatment
- What to expect from treatment, from first visit throughout treatment process
- How to find a treatment provider
- How to find a support group
NEDA also offers intervention resources for specific disorders. Each intervention has been verified by NEDA to meet required standards and is supported by evidence-based studies. Although the interventions have been vetted and approved by NEDA clinical advisors, they are not meant to be a substitute for professional treatment. However, these support options can provide valuable assistance throughout treatment and the recovery process.
NEDA also provides many resources for families and friends of loved ones with an eating disorder. Having that first conversation with a loved one about their eating disorder is crucial but can be very difficult. Family members can refer to NEDA’s guidelines regarding “How to Talk to a Loved One About Eating Concerns” for valuable insight. There is also a video for helping a loved one with an eating disorder.
Other helpful resources for families, friends, caregivers, and others include:
- Blog for parents and caregivers, where you can read inspirational stories of others who have been affected by the eating disorder of a loved one.
- Parent Toolkit is a comprehensive guide on how to support those affected by eating disorder. Includes information about potential medical consequences, treatment information, and more.
The NEDA community is a support system in itself. With activities like NEDA Walks, a walk for awareness promoting unity and power over eating disorders, National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, with its 2019 theme “Come as You Are”, supporting all stages of body acceptance and eating disorders recovery and the Body Project, a project to “confront unrealistic beauty ideals and engages them in the development of healthy body,” members of the NEDA community support one another, finding strength and hope in collaboration.
Turning Point of Tampa
In 1989, Turning Point of Tampa developed their nationally recognized Eating Disorders/Food Addiction Program for clients with Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa and Anorexia Nervosa. This comprehensive program uses a 12-Step based treatment approach to focus on and treat food as an addiction.
Turning Point of Tampa’s goal is to always provide a safe environment and a solid foundation in 12-Step recovery, in tandem with quality individual therapy and groups. We have been offering Licensed Residential Treatment for Substance Abuse, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987. If you need help or know someone who does, please contact our admissions department at 813-882-3003, 800-397-3006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.