Eating disorders are a progressive mental illness that affects millions of people, men and women alike. Many who suffer from eating disorders want to recover, but full recovery is almost impossible without outside help. Help for eating disorders can include professional treatment and group support, and one of the most recognized places for group support comes from Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA) (www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org). EDA is a place where individuals with eating disorders can share their struggles and offer support, strength and hope in order to help others recover from their own eating disorders. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, Eating Disorders Anonymous can be a great place to start the path to recovery.
What is Eating Disorders Anonymous?
EDA was founded in February 2000 as a way for people to share their experiences with eating disorders so that their strength and hope can encourage others to overcome their own problems with eating disorders. There are no dues or membership fees, and it is not affiliated with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution.
What is the philosophy of Eating Disorders Anonymous?
EDA believes that full recovery from an eating disorder is possible, and encourages recovery through identifying milestones. A milestone of recovery is a self-defined marker that highlights anything positive you’ve achieved on your road to recovery. Milestones can be as simple as acknowledging “I ate pizza last night for the first time three years and it was great!” to “I finally weaned myself off laxatives.” EDA believes that an eating disorder is a way for people to cope with stress, and that by sharing milestones and reading about others’ milestones of recovery, a person can learn how to better cope with life and learn how to gain perspective, peace and empowerment over one’s inner demons. In addition to identifying milestones, EDA also follows the 12-Step approach to recovery.
Recovery, according to EDA, does not mean you never have food, weight or body image issues; it simply means you have taken a healthy perspective and know that some days will be bad and some days will be good. Instead of getting stuck in self-pity, you forge ahead and continue to make daily choices that lead to a healthier lifestyle. Recovery means you are rebuilding trust in yourself and others and are making responsible choices that positively deal with life’s day-to-day struggles.
What are the meetings like?
EDA doesn’t focus on the problem, but rather the solution. It’s not a “diet and calories club,” and only endorses sound nutrition — not food rigidity. In meetings, members discuss their disordered thinking and how they work to solve it. Any discussion of weight, calories, exercise time, etc. is strictly prohibited. EDA meetings cover a wide range of topics, including working the 12 steps, how to handle fear of food, forgiveness, safe ways to vent emotions, building new coping skills, and planning for recovery. Every meeting covers the same following steps for building recovery:
* Eat when hungry, stop when moderately full. Consistent nutrition is essential for recovery. Recovery is about feelings, not food, but we can’t reason or build trust when bingeing, purging or starving.
* Get basic needs met first. If hungry, eat. If angry, find a safe outlet. If lonely, reach out. If tired, sleep. If ashamed, talk about it.
* Be an adult. This takes training and practice. Get some.
* Ask others for input and make your own decisions.
* When anxious, get physical, get outside, pray. Then deal with the problem head-on.
* Get open with others. Honesty restores integrity.
* Develop willingness to look at things differently. Recovery is not rigid. J
* Go to 12-Step meetings, read the literature and work the steps with a sponsor or buddy.
* Be proactive and plan your recovery.
Eating Disorder Anonymous meetings can be found in just about any state. To see a list of meetings in your area, visit: http://www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org/meetings.html.