Calgary raising awareness about eating disorders



robin kuniski/for metro calgary


Eating disorders are far too common in Calgary, and experts say unrealistic body image expectations are a large part of falling prey to the diseases.


Overcoming an eating disorder is a lengthy process but one many Calgarians go through, a fact highlighted as the city raises awareness to the disease this week.

One young local woman, who wished to remain anonymous, reflected upon her own battle with the disease and the long road to recovery with Metro during Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

"At the time it really messed up my life, I lost my friends, my family, everything. Basically I lost touch with reality. It consumed my life," the 21-year-old said of her struggle.

She battled the disease since she was 12 years old but hit rock bottom when she was 16, even requiring hospitalization.

"At first I didn’t want the help, but I was a minor so if I didn’t eat they could force me. Once I started getting better and my mind got better I was able to start helping myself too," she said.

With the help of her family and friends and her own strong will the young woman now has a much healthier image of herself.

This young woman is not alone and according to Leah Shalanski, specialist with the Calgary Eating Disorder Program, 30-40 per cent of 9-year-olds and 80 per cent of 11-year-olds have dieted.

"We’re trying to bring awareness to the issue and reflect on the attitudes surrounding eating disorders. The media focuses on body images in an unrealistic way," Shalanski told Metro.

warning signs

  • Abnormal weight loss of 25 per cent or more.

  • Laxative or diuretic abuse.

  • Binge eating followed by vomiting.

  • Prolonged exercise despite fatigue.

  • Intense fear of gaining weight.