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National Eating Disorders Association Conference 2010

Posted Oct 19 2010 2:06pm
On my recent trip to New York I went to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) 2010 Conference.  It was an amazing experience and one I have been thinking about how to share ever since.  I think the experience was particularly great as it was the first eating disorder conference I had been to that welcomed not just researchers and clinicians, but carers, and those in recovery from eating disorders as well.  I think it created a unique environment of sharing and learning. 

I listened to key note speakers including noted feminist Naomi Wolf, (left), and Professor Janet Treasure who is a world renowned expert on best practice for carers, often the people upon whom a significant amount of help and support must rest for people to recover from eating disorders.  I also went to a variety of workshops on things such as fashion and the media, the role of exercise, and in particular over exercising, in recovery, and bridging the gap between the world of research and clinical practice.

All of this learning has undoubtedly informed my own clinical practice enormously and I have walked away from being a conference attendee with a greater knowledge of eating disorders and a flame lit passion for assisting in an even greater capacity those that need therapeutic help.  Here are just some of the major points I took from the conference that I think that all people, not just those whose lives might be intimately connected to this issue, can learn from.  All of these points are based on tweets I made while at the conference in an attempt to share the information being learned to as wide as audience as possible.  I very much appreciate that not all people can afford to go to conferences.
For anyone to recover from an eating disorder they must become their own best champion and best friend. Self love and acceptance is the key. (Self love is indeed important for anyone experiencing any mental health concern, and in fact it is a vital component of living a self fulfilled and happy life)
75% of American women aged 25-40 meet the criteria for disordered eating. 10% of these meet diagnostic criteria for eating disorders.  (I would likely think that this statistic would be very similar if not the same in Australia and other Western countries as well.  Please remember that disordered eating includes any extreme diet or way of eating that promotes rapid weight loss.  Sobering figures indeed.)
Self care for carers is so important. It shows the person you are looking after and care about that you value yourself which of course they need to do too.  (If you are a carer of anyone with a mental or physical illness, please always remember this.  It is not selfish to put yourself first and take care of your own needs.)
We can't change the past. We can influence the present and future.  (Words to live by.)
The sooner we can create a society that promotes exercise as something that is done for balance, energy, vitality and fun, rather than weight loss, the better.  (Yes!)
Our souls and hearts are so much more important than any visual body part. (My word they are.  If only I could reach out and help every person the world over understand this I am certain the instances of negative body image being experienced would decrease.)
As I am sure you can now see, there are lessons we can all learn and grow from here.  Even if you know little about eating disorders, or even nothing, the role that things such as diet, nutrition, exercise, self care and self love play in our lives is important for us all.  You've got to love going to a conference that teaches you not just about how to better treat and understand an illness, but gives you life lessons as well.
You've also got to love a conference for bringing closer to your heart a number of incredible people previously unmet in real life.  Prior to NEDA I had only ever spent time online with the following amazing women - Recovery Warriors as they are now known!  I thank them all for embracing me into their warrior circle even though, unlike them, I have not experienced an eating disorder myself.  I was in awe of their passion and strong voices in wanting to spread awareness about eating disorders and reach out to others who needed them.  For anyone who is in recovery from an eating disorder and is reading this, or caring for someone who is - I encourage you to look at their amazing blogs and connect in with the positivity they are sharing with the online world.
Stephanie from Swept Films , Jacqueline from Fitarella , Kendra from A Voice in Recovery and Jenn from Believe. Hope. Trust.

Melissa from Finding Melissa , Jacqui, Stephanie and Rachael (aka Twisted Barbie ).  Look at those smiling faces!

Jacqui, Dr Robyn Silverman , Me, Kendra, Jenn and Melissa
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