This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week! This year I’m busting some myths!
Eating disorders are only a problem for white people
This may be based on the assumption that other cultural backgrounds may protect against eating disorders, maybe we think having a more close knit family, or having particular moral and ethical views means you’re less likely to have an eating disorder?
Whatever the reasoning for this myth, it’s inaccurate. Clinical research has shown that eating disorders are just as common, if not more common in people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds than in people from white backgrounds.
If a black male in his 20s walks into their GP surgery with low self-esteem and poor body image, more questions need to be asked about eating behaviours, it cannot be assumed he does not have an eating disorder.
We also need to remember that people from different backgrounds may present differently. As hard as this may be to hear, the closer a family is, the more deceptive the eating disorder may need to be to thrive. Eating disorders can be very clever and stay undetected for years, gradually gnawing away at the individual.
There is a lot of shame and guilt involved in eating disorders and the behaviours that come with them. In some cultures, lack of understanding about eating disorders may even lead to disgrace or dishonour.
The brain, just like any other organ can get sick; when the brain is sick, it leads to unusual behaviours, such as eating more or less than our body needs.
It is important factual information is shared so that all people have equal opportunities to access support and treatment. No matter what someone’s ethnic origin, the earlier the receive help, the more likely a positive outcome. With the right support people can recover from eating disorders.
I’ve been reflecting, recently, on the number of people commenting about how essential it is that their work continues through the Christmas period. 2 thoughts have occurred to me:
1. Don’t take bank holidays for granted!
When some people say their not getting a break, they mean, they’re not getting any extra annual leave aside from bank holidays. Seriously, I’ve heard people actually say “I’m working right through” but they’re getting Christmas Day and Boxing Day off and only working half days the rest of the week. Hang on…that’s not “working right through”!! If you’ve got the bank holidays off, it’s ok to say so and appreciate them!
Let’s stop and think about people who are actually working on Christmas Day: nurses, doctors, police officers, priests, carers…these people are “working right through”! These people will spend part or all of the festive season away from their friends and family, looking after those in need.
2. The care sector and emergency services are the only essentials!
No matter what we think, entertainment, technology, motor, retail and many others….none of these are essential! Yes, we need them, I’m not saying we can do away all together but perspective people!
In previous roles, working bank holidays was part of my job, people need care 24/7. Yes, I’d work some and not others but I could never count on getting a day off. I now work in admin and I’m happy to say, this year, “the hospital doesn’t need admin over Christmas so I’m off!” I’m no longer essential!
What’s happened to our culture in that having a break seems to be frowned upon?! It’s ok to take a break, if you’ve got the bank holidays off, good for you, if you’ve arranged your annual leave so you’re taking more of a break, great! Leave from work is not just a legal right but an essential part of health management.
If it’s the culture at your place of work to not take annual leave, you could be the one to change it. A good work life balance is something to be proud of, not some thing be ashamed of!
You don’t need to play the martyr and work as though the world would stop turning if you were to take a break. If, on the other hand, you actually want to work through Christmas, good for you, maybe the festivities aren’t for you, that’s ok, just make sure you take a break at another time of year!