Next week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. This year's theme is It’s Time to Talk About It; to shine the spotlight on eating disorders and put life-saving resources into the hands of those in need.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, over 30 million Americans will struggle with an eating disorder—and many begin that struggle young. Children as young as seven have been diagnosed with eating disorders. While genetic predisposition is a factor in the development of eating disorders, environmental cues also make a huge impact—in combination with stressors like schoolwork, athletics, and extracurriculars, a widespread cultural focus on the thin ideal can lead students to seek control and approval through caloric restriction.
SAGE understands the gravity of the matter, and recognizes that early detection and intervention greatly increase the likelihood of recovery. Four years ago, we partnered with The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt, a nationally respected proponent of evidence-based treatment, to initiate a program training our Team Members to effectively identify and discreetly report symptoms of eating disorders. Each year, our Team Members sign a written pledge confirming their commitment to this program. We're the only food service provider to initiate this kind of program, which reflects our deep dedication to the health and wellness of the communities we serve.
Our mission to keep our students safe and healthy guides the behaviors we model. By refusing to label foods as good or bad, we demonstrate that there is room for all foods in a healthful diet. By refraining from posting calories in dining halls, we allow students to focus on the color, texture, and flavor of their meals instead. Through our Educational Seasonings program, we encourage students to think about the wider cultural value of food.
Next week, begin to cultivate an awareness of the messages you're sending about food, weight, and wellness, especially to your children. Take some cues from us and focus on variety, balance, and moderation, rather than calorie counts. Together, we can make a difference.
For more information on eating disorders, visit the National Eating Disorders Association at nedawareness.org.