The body is the soul's house. Shouldn't we therefore take care of our house so that it will not fall into ruin?
-Philo, 20 B.C.E.-50 C.E. Jewish Philosopher

NFTY and National Eating Disorders Awareness Week
NFTY supports National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, to attract public and media attention to the seriousness of eating disorders and the pressures, attitudes and behaviors which contribute to them. Did you know:

  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner?
  • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat?
  • The average American woman is 5’4" tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5’11" tall and weighs 117 pounds?
  • Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women?
  • 51% of 9 and 10 year-old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet?
  • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are "sometimes" or "very often" on diets, and
  • 82% of their families are "sometimes" or "very often" on diets?
  • 91% of women recently surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting, 22% dieted "often" or "always"?
  • 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years?
  • 35% of "normal dieters" progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders?
  • 25% of American men and 45% of American women are on a diet on any given day?
  • Americans spend over $40 billion on dieting and diet-related products each year?

NFTY recognizes that eating disorders affect women and men of all ages, races and religions. Through a broad collection of information about various organizations, original articles and direct ways to reach out for help, it is our hope that we can educate our communities and help provided needed resources so that we can fulfill the Jewish value of pikuach nefesh – saving a life.

The organizations listed below will be happy to provide you with information about eating disorders or inform you about resources in your community. Many of the websites have excellent links to other on-line resources.

AABA, American Anorexia/Bulimia Association
(212) 575-6200

ANRED, Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc.
This is an excellent, anonymous on-line resource affiliated with NEDO.

NEDA, National Eating Disorders Association

Overeaters Anonymous
(505) 891-2664

The Renfrew Center
1-800-RENFREW

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is to attract public and media attention to the seriousness of eating disorders and the pressures, attitudes and behaviors which contribute to them.

...Until Eating Disorders are History.

This year the National Eating Disorders Association made a decision that it is time to stress that eating disorders can seriously impair a persons health, and ultimately be life threatening illnesses. That is why we are stressing that we must get these important messages out to the public, until such time that eating disorders are history. It is our hope that every coordinator this year will stress that 1) eating disorders are serious illnesses, not lifestyle choices; 2) we need to ensure that insurance covers appropriate treatment for these illnesses as necessary; 3) that more efforts must be made to educate the medical, educational and work communities to help with education and prevention ; and, that increased funding for research is essential to find better treatments and cures. On behalf of the individuals and families we intend to strive for these changes, until eating disorders really are a thing of the past, just history.

Be comfortable in your genes
Like eye color and skin color, our body size is largely determined by genetics. While eating and exercise certainly play a role in the size and shape of one’s body and overall level of health, the importance of genetics is often overlooked. Because body type and shape are strongly influenced by your genes, they are not something that can be drastically changed, much like your eye color or height. However, too often individuals struggle against their natural, genetically determined size just to fit into that pair of “skinny jeans” in the back of their closet. Fighting your natural size and shape can lead to unhealthy dieting practices, poor body image and decreased self-esteem. While you can adopt a healthy lifestyle and aim to be fit for your particular body type, you cannot change your genes. We want individuals to feel comfortable in their genes and to wear comfortable jeans.

Eating disorders are illnesses, not choices
Eating disorders are complex conditions that arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, biological and social factors. While eating disorders may begin with preoccupations with food and weight, they are about much more than food. Everyday, researchers are discovering more about the influence of genetics on eating disorders and finding that while environmental factors may pull the trigger, genetics loads the gun. In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Approximately 25 million more are struggling with binge eating disorder. Because of the secrecy and shame associated with eating disorders, it is very likely that many more

Help is Available, and Recovery is Possible. While eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses, there is help available and recovery really is possible. Although it can be a long journey to wellness, the benefits are for a lifetime to enjoy. It is also important for those affected to remember that they are not alone in their struggle; others have gone before them and are now living healthy fulfilling lives. And, with family and friends to support them with the knowledge that this is an illness, not a behavior, they can find their way. The national organizations: Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) and National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) have information and referrals available via their website or and helplines:

NEDA www.nationaleatingdisorders.org | NEDA Helpline: 800 931-2237

Nothing - by Robin Friedman

Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices - Body - by Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff and Louis E. Newman

Litapayach Tikvah – To Nourish Hope
Eating Disorders: Perceptions and Perspectives in Jewish Life Today

Beyond Miriam: A Resource Guide for Jewish Camps
A resource guide, developed for camp directors by the Foundation for Jewish Camp and and the Jewish Women's Foundation of New York, on issues of body image, eating disorders, and cutting.

R'fuah Sh'leima: The Renewal of Mind, Body, and Spirit