Alaska Eating Disorders Alliance launches new adult support group

Channel 2 Morning Edition (6 a.m.)
Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 1:16 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As the holiday season nears, a topic that might not always come up, but is still very much relevant, is eating disorders.

AKEDA, or Alaska Eating Disorders Alliance, is a statewide resource for those struggling with an eating disorder. The nonprofit was formed two years ago and has been providing education, support and advocacy — that includes support groups for family and friends.

Starting Thursday at 5:30 p.m., the alliance will launch a new group for adults 18 and older that will meet weekly via zoom. These groups are free and confidential, and open to all Alaskans.

Co-Founder Jenny Loudon said it was important for them to kick it off this month, since the holidays can present a real challenge for those struggling.

“Within the eating disorders field, a lot of people call Thanksgiving the Mount Everest of holidays, or in Alaska, we might call it the Denali,” Loudon said. “But you figure many people experience a lot of anxiety around the holidays, and so if you have an eating disorder, all of those activities around the table, food oriented can make things not only stressful, but feel very overwhelming or even terrifying.”

Loudon also gave some tips on how to approach someone with an eating disorder, or someone struggling with it during the holidays.

Make a plan: anticipate that the holidays are going to be stressful.

Identify a support team: think about who you can reach out to.

Practice your eating skills: this could mean following a meal plan and staying mindful in the moment.

Schedule self care: do something that relaxes you and for family and friends. Try to avoid triggering topics and bringing up appearances.

“So instead of saying ‘hey, hi you’re looking great today’, or ‘looks like you’ve lost some weight or gained some weight’, just avoiding those and instead, looking at the whole person and saying ‘hey how are you today? What are you enjoying these days?’” Loudon said.

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