“The National Eating Disorder Awareness theme for this year is ‘It’s time to talk about it,’ and this is our chance to do just that,” says Marybeth Burns, board president for T.H.E. Center for Disordered Eating in Asheville. The national organization is asking communities to open up during the week of Feb. 26-March 4 for discussion, the celebration of recovery and bringing into light a disorder that is often in the shadows. Started by the National Eating Disorders Association, NED Week raises awareness about disordered eating.
Eating disorders, which affect 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States, include anorexia, binge eating and bulimia, as reported by the National Eating Disorders Association.
T.H.E. Center, which is located at UNC Asheville but is not a part of the university, maintains resources such as fliers, pamphlets and phone numbers for help in coping with this misunderstood illness. “What often happens is that people don’t want to admit the problem, or they see it and take someone to see a doctor and are often not screened properly or diagnosed properly,” says Mary Everist, a board member at T.H.E. Center whose daughter who struggled with anorexia nervosa. Everist used T.H.E. Center to understand the illness and to help her daughter recover.
Some doctors, Everist says, have an old-fashioned attitude of “Just have her eat a bit more and stop throwing up.’
“It’s not that simple,” Everist says. “It’s not a choice to develop an eating disorder. It really needs intervention and treatment. Eating disorders are the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.”
Everist regularly receives calls from people who are concerned that someone they know might have an eating disorder. “I went through it with my daughter. I talk to them and help to point them in the direction for where to go,” Everist says. “The need is there for the families and those that are struggling with eating disorders. It is very hard to know where to go. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and T.H.E. Center offers support groups at no cost, a lending library and resources to be able to point people in the right direction for treatment providers and treatment centers.”
NED Awareness Week is collaborating with several Asheville organizations and businesses to spread the word. Events include yoga classes, lectures, a movie screening, and a scale-smashing event at UNCA. Ellen Catlin, marketing manager for Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard, partnered with the program. Making a Difference Monday, which donates a percentage of sales and provides the space for free, offers a chance to get the word out about nonprofits around town.
“In general, not as much attention is paid to mental and emotional disorders,” Catlin says. “I think it’s important that there is an emphasis on it for NED Awareness Week and that there is attention, fundraising and rallying, which doesn’t often come up in craft beer world. It tends to be more lighthearted. We want to rally around the things that matter.”
National Eating Disorder Association
T.H.E. Center for Disordered Eating