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Healthy Living: Alaska Eating Disorders Alliance offers education, support and advocacy

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 8:24 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Jenny Loudon and Beth Rose have known each other for more than a decade, but despite their long history, they had no idea the other was suffering in such a similar way.

“We didn’t know that we had been experiencing some similar challenges. Those challenges included the fact that both Beth and I had had eating disorders when we were youth that we had both been fully recovered from,” said Loudon.

“If you go through an eating disorder, it can be a very dark place and so having survived it, I never wanted to go back to that place again,” added Rose.

But they did go through that dark place again, in a different way. Their daughters also experienced dealing with an eating disorder.

“So we both ended up having to kind of walk through this path and the journey of helping support a loved one with an eating disorder to full recovery and to do so alone,” said Loudon.

“It was a whole different situation as a parent having to go through that journey, and it was so difficult, not finding people to talk to not finding enough, you know, resources here because it actually takes a team to help somebody with an eating disorder,” said Rose.

It was then that the two teamed up to form Alaska Eating Disorders Alliance. Their focus, education, support and advocacy.

“Up to 9% of people, of all ages, genders, ethnicities, urban, rural locations have eating disorders, so we estimated 65,000 people in Alaska have an eating disorder, will have it in their lifetime,” said Rose.

Both agree, there’s a stigma around eating disorders and a stereotype of what it looks like and because of the shame, guilt and fear surrounded by it, not as many people reach out for help.

“The stereotype of person who has an eating disorder is a young, thin affluent white teenager. You can’t tell by looking at someone if they have an eating disorder, because somebody can be, they can be Alaska native and they can be 70 years old, they can be living in a small community,” added Rose.

“As we speak to this, to eating disorders and as we help to kind of squash down the shame around it, it’s been really amazing to see how many people are able to speak about it in ways that continue to build momentum on that, to help people to feel that they can speak about this as well, and that they can, and to understand that they can get better,” said Loudon.

That’s why creating an organization for Alaskans, the two want those struggling to know they’re not alone, help is available and recovery is possible.

AKEDA has a free and confidential support group on the third Saturday of the month. It’s done virtually, and open to family members supporting a loved one with an eating disorder.

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