National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February 24 to March 1) is a reminder that although it isn’t easy to talk or think about eating disorders, it’s important. Eating disorders are complex and life-threatening mental illnesses, and they’re on the rise. They affect all ages, genders, races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and body shapes and sizes. Eating disorders exist on a continuum with disordered eating, and symptoms range from extreme restriction to binge eating and distorted body image. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, national surveys estimate that 30 million Americans will struggle with an eating disorder over the course of their lifetime.
At SAGE, we recognize the risks that exist in our communities. We understand we’re in a unique position because of our daily interactions with students during mealtimes, and we have a comprehensive eating disorder prevention and reporting program in place. For more than 10 years, SAGE has worked in partnership with the Eating Recovery Center of Maryland (formerly The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt) to develop training materials for all our Team Members. Everyone at SAGE completes annual training about how to recognize warning signs that someone might be struggling with an eating disorder. If we notice concerning behaviors from anyone in the community, we work with the school administration to connect the person with the help they need.
We don’t post calories or other nutritional information on our menus. This is another part of our approach to preventing eating disorders. We stopped posting nutritional information in dining halls after finding out that some community members were struggling because of it. Please read our white paper, “Why SAGE Doesn’t Post Calories in Schools,” for more detailed information.
Our All Foods Fit philosophy encourages community members to focus on the cultural and social aspects of food, the enjoyment that comes from eating, and the nutrients food provides instead of thinking just about how it may make their bodies look physically. This philosophy encourages a positive relationship with food and honors all the ways food can provide nourishment.
Our Registered Dietitians also present at school association conferences across the country to help train school personnel about eating disorder prevention. For these presentations, the Dietitians partner with school wellness personnel to provide balanced information about how to promote a positive relationship with food in the classroom as well as the dining hall.
For more information about eating disorders, visit the National Eating Disorders Association. If you’re concerned that you or someone you care about might be struggling with an eating disorder, we encourage you to reach out to a health care professional and use these resources. Early detection leads to improved treatment results.