Creating a healthy and supportive environment within schools is crucial for the prevention of eating disorders among students. Educators and school staff play a key role in this process. Here are a few strategies that can help:
Fostering an environment that celebrates diversity, promotes body acceptance, and prioritises mental health can leave a lasting impact on students' lives.
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At BodyMatters, we are committed to raising awareness and understanding of body image and eating issues within schools and wider communities. We believe that through education, dialogue, and supportive services, we can cultivate environments that promote healthy relationships with food and bodies. Here's how we're making a difference:
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Eating disorders can be a challenging topic for any school community to tackle. They can affect students' health, performance, and overall well-being. We're here to offer our help. Our mission is to equip your school with the tools and knowledge you need to identify, understand, and address these issues effectively. Together, we can build a supportive environment.
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1.Eating disorders are a choice: Eating disorders are serious mental health disorders, not lifestyle choices. They are often caused by a mix of genetic, biological, behavioural, psychological, and social factors that work together in a complicated way.
2.Eating disorders are only about food: While they often involve issues with food, eating disorders are more about coping with emotional and psychological distress.
3.Only women have eating disorders: Although eating disorders are more commonly diagnosed in women, they also affect men. It's important to note that societal stigma might make men less likely to seek help.
4.Eating disorders are a temporary trend or a passing stage: Eating disorders are serious and can be life-threatening. They are not a phase that someone will just "grow out of."
5.Only rich or well-off people get eating disorders: Eating disorders affect people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. They do not discriminate based on class, race, age, or gender.
6.You can tell if someone has an eating disorder just by looking at them: Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.
7.Eating disorders aren't serious: Eating disorders can cause more deaths. They can lead to severe health complications, including heart disease, kidney failure, and death.
8.Someone must be underweight to have an eating disorder: This is a common misconception. People with eating disorders can be underweight, normal weight, or overweight.
9.Eating Disorders are only for young people: Although eating disorders often begin in the teenage years or early adulthood, they can also develop in childhood or later in life.
10.Once you're in recovery, you're cured: Recovery from an eating disorder is a long-term process. While many people recover, they may still have to manage their thoughts and behaviours around food and body image for the rest of their lives.
Please keep in mind that these myths can contribute to the stigma and misunderstanding that surround eating disorders, often making it harder for those affected to seek the help they need.
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Let's work together to ensure our children grow up in an environment that promotes a healthy relationship with food and positive body image
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Eating disorders are mental health conditions with physical implications. They come in various forms, such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID).
Binge Eating Disorder
-Recurrent episodes of consuming large quantities of food in a short period, often to the point of discomfort
(Unlike Bulimia, individuals with BED do not engage in regular compensatory behaviours)
-Often associated with emotional eating and a lack of control during eating episodes
-Severe restriction of food intake
-Intense fear of gaining weight
-Distorted body image
-Obsessive behaviours related to food and weight
-Episodes of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviours such as self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise or misuse of laxatives or diuretics
-Preoccupation of body shape and weight
-Loss of control during binge episodes and experience feelings of guilt and shame afterward
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID):
-Restricted and highly selective eating pattern due to sensory sensitivities, lack of interest in food, fear of negative consequences, or concerns about aversive experiences
-Can lead to significant weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and impaired social functioning
(Unlike Anorexia, the restriction is not driven by a desire for weight loss or body image concerns)
In research about teachers from Australia, the main hurdles that stopped them from introducing ways to prevent eating disorders at schools were
not knowing enough about the topic (75%)
not having the right tools or materials (73%)
not having enough funding (52%)
(Pursey, K. et al.)
Source: Butterfly Foundation
Millions of kids across Australia feel uncomfortable about their body
90% of young people have body image concerns
75% wish they were thinner
Source: Butterfly Foundation
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