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Join Doris Smeltzer, critically acclaimed author/educator, as she muses on topics from eating disorders to the mysteries of life. Often "Featured" are select, astute observations made by Andrea during her all too brief 19-year life…it is she who taught us: the joy IS in the journey!

The end of eating disorders awareness month

February is always a crazy month for me and our non-profit because it is the official month for eating disorders awareness, with the last week of the month holding claim to the title of "National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW)."

I just returned from a first-time trip to Kansas where I presented during Kansas State University's NEDAW. Before leaving home on Wednesday I grabbed a copy of Renfrew's Winter 2013 Perspectives. 

It is rare that I do not learn something from this valuable publication and catching up on my reading on the outgoing flight proved no exception. The article that spoke strongly to me was titled "The Digital Reality: What Clinicians Need to Know about Eating Disorders and Social Media" by Marci Anderson, MS, EDRD, LDN and J. Amber Barke, LICSW, RYT

What I found most interesting is that their findings on the effects of social media seemed to echo the findings about the negative effects of being exposed to or engaging in fat talk (increase in body image issues and problematic eating behaviors--Ousley, et al 2008).

Ms Anderson and Barke speak to the importance of clinicians becoming aware of their client's use of social media,

While our clients cannot avoid the potentially damaging effects of some media, we can help them become critically aware of how their own social media use affects their own thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. 

I think it is just as important for each of us to take a close look at our social media use and to notice how we feel after spending time with it: do we come away feeling empowered and optimistic or do we feel uneasy or downright lousy about ourselves. And if we have children at home...helping them evaluate the effects their social media use may have on their feelings of self as well. Then doing what is needed to assure that our social media choices provide us with positive, constructive experiences. The authors of this article included an extensive list of suggestions on how to accomplish this plus a number of on-line resources (to read the entire article and to access all the resources go here and scroll to pages 19-23).

I also ran across the following video from Opal Food + Body today that although not about the social media topic is a great reminder of the things we may wish we had been told about our bodies when we were growing up.

Here's to another year of celebrating and valuing our amazing bodies...until NEDAW 2014!

[Originally posted on the Gürze Books Eating Disorders Blogs]

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