Mental health conditions can not only impact our minds, but our physical health, too.
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDA) is happening right now.
It’s recognized to raise awareness about the warning signs of mental health conditions.
Experts say anyone regardless of gender or age can deal with this issue.
One pageant titleholder is on a mission to educate Iowans about the dangers of eating disorders.
“Why don’t we tell young women and men that it’s okay to love themselves from the start? Instead of having a society where eating disorders are so prevalent,” Madison Auge, the current Miss Corridor said.
The Miss Corridor Scholarship Program is a preliminary to the Miss Iowa Scholarship Program competition. She’s also someone who’s struggled with an eating disorder.
“I had shown symptoms of an eating disorder for a long time, but it was never addressed,” she said. “What’s heartbreaking is the fact that I had an eating disorder, but people thought that I had courage, and I had strength, and I was so determined to lose weight. When in reality, I had a mental illness.”
She’s speaking up, visiting schools (prior to the pandemic), and using social media to teach kids to love themselves with her mission, The Blossom Revolution.
“I would look for inspirational things online and messages that it was okay to love myself, and I found that those were really hard to come by. So I started the blossom revolution to reach out to young men and women, and prevent eating disorders,” she said.
One of Auge’s biggest missions is to teach kids to love their body for what it can do, and not for what it looks like. She also hopes to help kids create a healthy relationship with food. This is something that many struggle with, said Kristy Hoffman Rieken, the president of the Eating Disorder Coalition of Iowa.
“Approximately 9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans will have an eating disorder sometime in their lifetime,” Hoffman Rieken said.
She said there are many misconceptions about disorders.
“It does not differ on gender. Many times people think, oh, men wouldn’t have a problem with this, but yes, we do see this being a factor with men as well and boys,” she said.
She said young people are at a higher risk but knowing the signs can save lives.
“Being over consumed with reading labels or cutting out foods that they read online are not good for them. Restricting the intake of their food that they do allow themselves, engaging in a high level of activity,” she said are a few of the signs. For a full list, click the link here.
The Eating Disorder Coalition is challenging people to take care of themselves for this year’s NEDA week. For more information and for resources, click the link here.