Everybody Knows somebody : Join the fight against eating disorders


It seems as though there is a day, week, or month for everything. “Take Your Dog to Work Day”, “Appreciate your Name Day” (next week, by the way), and “Life Insurance Awareness Month”. It’s hard to wake up in the morning and remember what I am suppose to be aware of. It’s not that these issues don’t deserve the time in the spotlight, heck, I’ve taken my dog to work and I appreciate my name every single day. It’s just that some of the issues that are given a designated day, week, or month are important enough that we should be aware of them the entire year. One such issue is Eating Disorders. February 21 – 27 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Eating Disorders are among the most dangerous mental illnesses. In fact, Anorexia, has the highest mortality rate among all psychiatric disorders. Fortunately I did not become a statistic.

As a marathon runner I ran into the problem of consuming enough calories to support my activity level and began losing weight. Soon enough the allure of the “runner’s body” and eating “healthy” was too strong and my weight quickly dropped to dangerous number along with my heart rate which was a slow 40 bpm. It was those two things that became a red flag for my family and my doctors, sending me to the hospital. My heart was struggling to support my body. Now, 8 years and 3 treatment attempts later I am finally experience a “normal” relationship with food and exercise. Still others in treatment with me all those years ago are struggling against ED.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have the support system in place that I have which lead to my recovery. Navigating a world with perfect photo shopped images, diet fads, and fitness fanatics is tough. Throw in depression, trauma, a compulsive personality and an eating disorder is waiting to happen to anyone. It is important as educators to be aware of this dangerous illness every day of the year. The books listed below include fiction and nonfiction and must come with a disclaimer. Sometimes for a person already struggling with ED stories such as these may serve as a perverse type of negative motivation, even in cases where the character recovers. I believe the real benefit of these stories, real or not real, is to help family members and friends understand the thought processes of their loved one dealing with ED. Although ultimately it is the individual’s choice to get better, a strong support system is huge factor in recovery and that system may be made up of family, friends, teachers, coaches, etc… So be aware this week and every week.


How I Live Now
By: Meg Rosoff

To get away from her pregnant stepmother in New York City, fifteen-year-old Daisy goes to England to stay with her aunt and cousins, with whom she instantly bonds, but soon war breaks out and rips apart the family while devastating the land.  Ages 13 and up


By: Laurie Halse Anderson

Eighteen-year-old Lia comes to terms with her best friend’s death from anorexia as she struggles with the same disorder.  Ages 13 and up


By: Natasha Friend

Following the death of her father, a thirteen-year-old uses bulimia as a way to avoid her mother’s and ten-year-old sister’s grief, as well as her own.  Ages 12 and up


By: Sarah Littman

When her parents check sixteen-year-old Janie into Golden Slopes to help her recover from her bulimia, she discovers that she must talk about things she has admitted to no one–not even herself.  Ages 12 and up


By: Lesley Fairfield

Pressured by media, friends, and fashion trends, Anna develops an eating disorder that controls every aspect of her life until she finally decides to get help.  Ages 12 and up
By: Jackie Morse Kessler

Seventeen-year-old Lisabeth has anorexia, and even turning into Famine–one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse–cannot keep her from feeling fat and worthless.  Ages 12 and up


By: Erin Jade Lange

Unable to control his binge eating, a morbidly obese teenager nicknamed Butter decides to make a live webcast of his last meal as he attempts to eat himself to death.


What Happens Next
By: Colleen Clayton

The stress of hiding a horrific incident that she can neither remember nor completely forget leads sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy to become alienated from her friends, obsess about weight loss, and draw close to Corey “The Living Stoner” Livingston.  Ages 14 and up


Letting Ana Go
By: Anonymous

Required by her cross-country coach to keep a food diary, an insecure teen finds that writing helps organize her thoughts, especially about issues that she, her best friend, and her mother face related to weight and eating.  Ages 12 and up
A Trick of the Light
By: Lois Metzger

Fifteen-year-old Mike desperately attempts to take control as his parents separate and his life falls apart.  Ages 12 and up


Hope and Other Luxuries: A Mother’s Life With a Daughter’s Anorexia
By: Clare B. Dunkle

Clare Dunkle seemed to have an ideal life–two beautiful, high-achieving teenage daughters, a loving husband, and a satisfying and successful career as a children’s book novelist. But it’s when you let down your guard that the ax falls. Just after one daughter successfully conquered her depression, another daughter developed a life-threatening eating disorder. Co-published with Elena Vanishing, the memoir of her daughter, this is the story–told in brave, beautifully written, and unflinchingly honest prose–of one family’s fight against a deadly disease, from an often ignored but important perspective: the mother of the anorexic.  Ages 14 and up


Skinny Boy: A Young Man’s Battle and Triumph Over Anorexia
By: Gary Grahl

Challenging the assumption that anorexia is an exclusively female affliction, this compelling memoir is the first to describe how a young man overcame this often fatal disorder. Handsome and popular, Gary had baseball abilities that had attracted the attention of the big leagues, until a shaming inner-voice convinced him that he needed to be thinner, leading to an out-of-control compulsion to exercise and starve himself, causing multiple hospitalizations.  Ages 14 and up


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