28.8 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. 28.8 million.
A number so large, it’s hard to comprehend. Like other facts and figures missing context, it risks washing over us, the gust too big and too abstract to grasp. To put it into perspective, if we were to call each person by name, assuming we could name one person per second of every minute of every day, it would take us nearly a year to account for them all. Allowing for an occasional breath, the exercise would easily fill the 31.5 million seconds in a year.
And so, we must consider each person individually, each one of those millions a face and a name.
Every single eating disorder is a reason for The Emily Program to join in The Alliance’s rallying cry: Not One More. Eating disorders are destructive and all-consuming, not diets that people cycle into or phases they “snap out of.” They attack all body systems, devastate relationships, co-opt plans, and erode self-worth. They hijack values and steal dreams, staking territory in every area of a person’s life.
Without another eating disorder, we get to take back all the things an eating disorder takes for itself.
One more person may be able to know their worth. To be free from the need to apologize for their body, for the space they occupy, for their very being. Free from the chatter telling them to be more and do more and change this and perfect that. To know that they are enough.
One more person may be able to live outside the prison walls, free from the rules and restrictions of these rigid illnesses. To have time and energy to think beyond food and weight, to live out the values of their heart and the wisdom of their body. To create a life that looks like their own.
One more person may be able to fully feel. To welcome both their aches and their joys, recognizing that their feelings—like their food—are neutral. To live a life of color and complexity.
One more person may be able to experience full health. Not the health sold by diet or wellness culture, but health that allows their body, mind, and spirit to sing in sweeter harmony. To eat and move in ways that are intuitive instead of punitive. To nurture and nourish themselves. To revel in life-affirming moments.
One more person gets to lift their head above shame and isolation. One more friend isn’t left on the receiving end of this disorder’s ruthlessness. One more family isn’t longing for its missing piece.
When there’s not one more eating disorder, we get a full, beautiful life in its place. We get a person with all their quirks, their light, their vulnerabilities—their radiant humanness. We get gifts as generous and possibility as powerful as the person behind them.
Eating disorders take and take. Let’s not let them.
28.8 million people is too many. One is too many. Not one more.
The Emily Program’s vision is a world of peaceful relationships with food, weight, and body image, where everyone with an eating disorder can experience recovery. The Emily Program was founded in 1993 by Dirk Miller, PhD, LP, after his sister Emily recovered from an eating disorder. Recognizing that one size does not fit all, The Emily Program provides exceptional, individualized care leading to recovery from eating disorders, incorporating individual, group, and family therapy, nutrition, psychiatry, medical care, yoga, and more. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call 1-888-EMILY-77 or visit emilyprogram.com.