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Two women overcome eating disorder, start non-profit to help others

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project_heal_foundersToday, I am very proud to share with you, dear readers, the story of two inspiring young women and introduce you to Project HEAL, a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization founded by them for lending support to people in their struggle to overcome eating disorders.

This movement is very close to my heart. At one end of the spectrum, we are overdosing our children on junk food, causing obesity in epic proportions. And at the other end of the spectrum, we are subjecting them to all sorts of body-image issues by constantly bombarding them with media images about how ideal bodies should look like, leading to many eating disorders. Project HEAL is a step towards restoring that equilibrium and helping people who are suffering by facilitating treatment through grants and by promoting healthy body image and self-esteem. Project HEAL is serving as a testament that full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Today they share with FertileBrains how the organization was created by former eating disorder patients, along with some eye-opening information into the world of eating disorders and what to look for should you think your child is affected with one. I am sure this piece would resonate with many of you, dear readers, for it gives hope to those silently suffering from eating disorders, and shows the devotion of two young women helping millions of others. 

After Overcoming Eating Disorder, Two Women Start Nonprofit To Help Others Afford Treatment

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Introduction

The stress to be thin is felt by children at a disturbingly young age, due in large part to our high-pressure society where thinness is equated with success and happiness.

According to The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 42% of 1st- to 3rd-grade girls want to be thinner, while 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat.

Liana Rosenman and Kristina Saffran both were just 13 years old when they met during treatment for anorexia nervosa.  They helped each other reach full recovery and knew they wanted to help others do the same.

Project HEAL

projecthealIn the spring of 2008, Rosenman and Saffran founded Project HEAL. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is the largest non-profit in the US dedicated to raising money for people with eating disorders who are unable to afford lifesaving treatment. Eating disorder treatment can cost upwards of $30,000 a month, and often is not covered by insurance.

Since its launch, Project HEAL has sent 52 applicants to treatment through its grant program, opened over 40 chapters across the United States, Canada, and Australia, and developed partnerships with over 20 recognized eating disorder treatment centers across the United States.

Project HEAL, along with its founders Rosenman and Saffran, aim to show those suffering that there is hope and that full recovery is possible. The non-profit also serves as a platform for building self-esteem, positive body image, and self-love, with both Rosenman and Saffran serving as mentors and striving to inspire others to live life to the fullest.

Project Heal | Full Recovery IS Possible | 30 sec version of Recovery Spark on Vimeo.

How can you help?

Eating disorders are serious illnesses that affect up to 30 million Americans, yet only 10% of those who suffer currently get treatment. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness; as many as 1 in 10 who suffer will die. That said, with treatment, full recovery is possible. Project HEAL raises money through individual and company contributions, and the Fighting for 500 Gala, co-hosted last year by Arianna Huffington and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

You can help make a difference too by making a tax-deductible donation in any amount to Project HEAL. Please visit http://theprojectheal.org/add-your-support/ for the same.

A few guidelines for you if you suspect an eating disorder in your family

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Millions of parents are faced with a child suffering from an eating disorder, something they never anticipated, and worse, can’t understand. This can often lead to parents feeling alienated or powerless to help their child. While the most effective form of support and intervention will vary from person to person, here are a few guidelines:

Educate yourself

You may not be able to understand what your friend or loved one is going through, but you can set the stage for open and productive communication by learning more. A great resource is The National Eating Disorder Association’s Parent Toolkit.

Don’t stay silent

Eating disorders are serious and potentially life-threatening; the longer they go on, the harder they can be to recover from. Therefore, if you suspect your child is struggling, it is important to address it.

Do plan when to speak

Having a conversation with your child about their disordered eating can be incredibly difficult, especially the first time you bring it up. Find an appropriate time and a safe space to express your concerns. Don’t impulsively accuse your child in the moment if you see them behaving in an unhealthy way. Instead, make time for a supportive discussion on neutral territory.

Continue communicating

Bringing up your concerns won’t automatically lead to a solution. You may even encounter some resistance from your child. Don’t be frustrated or place blames if he/she is not ready for recovery and certainly don’t try to enforce a “cure” yourself.  The important thing at this stage is to continue checking in and to be a resource for care.

Seek guidance

Remember that you cannot force someone to seek help. But if you are concerned about your child’s safety, it may be appropriate to seek guidance from a medical professional.

PS: If you feel inspired by the story of these two amazing young women, please support them by sharing their story with your friends!

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