Shame in Silence: Eating Disorder Awareness Week

NEDIC Director, Merryl Bear joins other eating disorder experts to answer questions and debunk common misconceptions about eating disorders and related challenges on CBC LIve Online with Lauren O'Neil.  Read the full article and replay the live chat here.By Community Team

CBC News|Community, February 7, 2013

Vancouver blogger Alexis McDonald, who is recovered from an eating disorder that did not fit neatly under Bulimia or Anorexia Nervosa, is now among those speaking out about disordered eating and body image issues. (Courtesy of Alexis McDonald)

The road to self-acceptance and body pride can be a long and winding one - especially given all the signs one encounters along the way celebrating certain shapes and sizes while ridiculing and scorning others.

Images of the so-called perfect physique are everywhere, with rail thin women and slim, muscular men often held up as ideals.

But, unlike many depictions suggest, it's not only impressionable teenage girls who are influenced by these standards.

Men and women of all ages, big and small and everything in between, can become preoccupied with their weight and may struggle with various eating disorders - some of which are little known or difficult to identify.

Whether they resort to unhealthy diets or carry a sense of shame within themselves, those who struggle often need help making peace with their own bodies.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week, the first full week of February each year, is a good time to review what we know (and think we know) about healthy minds and bodies. Open dialogue is one way to fight the stigma and silence cloaking the issue. 

This week on CBC Live Online with Lauren O'Neil, three panelists join us to answer questions and debunk common misconceptions about eating disorders and related challenges.

Our panelists are:

Sylvia Kerr has been a Registered Dietitian for fourteen years, and has worked within the eating disorder programs of major Ontario hospitals. Kerr, who is also a registered social worker and psychotherapist, anchors her own private practice in eating management and mental health services.

Merryl Bear is the director of the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC). Bear, who has worked as an educational psychologist, speaks often on issues of self-esteem and body image, and has worked in the areas of disordered eating and food and weight preoccupation for over 20 years.

Paul Gallant, a researcher, specialist consultant and Certified Health Executive, advocates for prevention, early recognition and treatment of eating disorders in both sexes. The former therapist has worked with dozens of men struggling with eating disorders.

Also appearing to share their experiences, were:

Kathleen Rea is a former dancer with the National Ballet of Canada who struggled with bulimia for roughly a decade. Rea, who now works as an expressive arts therapist, helps both men and women experiencing body-image issues.

Alexis McDonald is a blogger chronicling her 'Wunder Year' after recovering from an eating disorder that did not fit neatly under Bulimia or Anorexia. The Vancouver resident also works with a local grassroots resource and support network called Project True.

Replay the live chat and let us know your thoughts in the comments.