According to a recent report, more than 1 million Canadians suffer from an eating disorder.
The report, released to coincide with Eating Disorders Awareness Week in Canada, which runs from February 1 to 7, is intended to raise awareness of the issue and help end the stigma surrounding it.
“Eating disorders are serious and common mental illnesses, and they take more lives than any other form of mental distress except for opioid addiction,” Deborah Berlin, Executive Director of Sheena’s Place, a non-institutional, non-residential centre that offers support to those dealing with eating disorders, said in a news release.
“The idea that ‘eating disorders can’t afford to wait’ means people who are struggling can’t afford to wait to get help – because research shows that those not treated within the first three years can battle the illness for decades. It can mean the difference between life and death if we can encourage those who need help to come forward, knowing that there are open arms and open minds at the ready,” she continued.
Recently, Sheena’s Place introduced two new 10-week programs run by registered dieticians trained in eating disorders; they are:
- Nutritional Education Group: learning about nutrition in the context of eating disorder recovery, navigating nutrition labels, exposure to kitchen environments to help build knowledge and comfort levels among participants;
- Meal Preparation & Support Group: hands-on activities including grocery shopping outings and cooking. Participants experiment, plan and prepare food in a casual setting aimed at diminishing the fear and negative emotions associated with food or certain types of food.
“A number of things can stop people from seeking help, whether its fear, concerns about cost, or simply not knowing where to turn. Our message is that help is readily available, and you can’t afford to wait. Reach out and you will be welcomed in,” Berlin added.