National Eating Disorder Awareness week breaks stereotypical myths

(KWES) - It's National Eating Disorder Awareness week. About 30 million Americans will struggle with a full-blown eating disorder, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. That's why in the Basin, the conversation continues to help people out here.

It seems like everywhere you look, magazines or the internet, you'll find ideal beauty standards from both men and women. Some people make eating changes to fit those standards, but going overboard can be dangerous, because many people still don't know the signs of having an eating disorder.

"You can't look at someone and know how severe their situation is," said Ashleigh Partin, MS, RDN, LD. "You don't see the turmoil going on inside."

Eating disorders affect people from all backgrounds and some people don't even know they have it. The problem is some of the common disorders like bulimia, anorexia or even binge eating doesn't just affect skinny people and it doesn't just affect women. This is why Jennifer Mason and Ashleigh Partin hope those stereotypes don't stop others from getting help.

"Any age, any gender, any body shape," said Partin. "I think a lot of people in larger bodies feel they don't need treatment. 'I'm not thin so I must not be that bad.' But often times, it's really bad. Looking past the stereotypes, anyone struggling with a disordered relationship with food deserves treatment."

Jennifer Mason is a licensed counselor in Midland and said the problem also lies here in the Permian Basin. She said eating disorders start to take a toll when it starts to affect simple everyday tasks.

"Whether or not its gotten worse, culture needs to really change," said Mason. "What's scary is one of the myths is you have to feel sick in order to be a problem, but eating disorders are sneaky that the medical complications can go undetected but can become life-ending quickly."

So with National Eating Disorder Awareness week, the two plan to help more clients reach a happy and positive image, where health and recovery comes in every size.

"It's putting someone's value back of what's internal of who they are instead of what they look like," said Mason. "There is hope."

If you think you or someone you know needs help, you can go to the Higher Grounds Coffee Shop in Midland on Feb. 27. You can do screenings, talk to treatment officials one-on-one and learn more information. It's from 9-10:30 a.m. and 5-6:30 p.m.

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