Eating disorders can involve rigid diets, bingeing on food in secret, throwing up after meals or obsessively counting calories. It’s not easy to watch someone you care about damage their health—especially when the solution appears, at least on the outside, to be simple. But eating disorders are more complicated than just unhealthy dietary habits. At their core, they’re attempts to deal with emotional issues and involve distorted, self-critical attitudes about weight, food, and body image. It’s these negative thoughts and feelings that fuel the damaging behaviors.
The following organizations provide both resources, helplines and directories to find specialized help for your child or a loved one:
- The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) provides information, resources, referrals and support to individuals affected by eating disorders through their toll-free helpline and instant chat. Outreach and education programming is available online, focusing on awareness and the prevention of eating disorders. Help & Reference Line: 1-866-633-4220, online chat and email at
- Anorexie et boulimie Québec (ANEB) offers a number of resources for individuals with anorexia and boulimia including a help and reference line, online chat help, closed support groups and more. Help & Reference Line: 1-800-630-0907 (call or text) and online chat for teens.
- Kids Help Phone offers information on eating disorders with tips for recovery, as well as a helpline for kids. Help & Reference Line: 1-800-668-6868, Text CONNECT to 686868 or Live Chat.
- Tel-jeunes offers a helpline for youth. You can call, text, or send a question online to receive help from a professional counsellor. Help & Reference Line: Call: 1-800-263-2266
- The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario offers a wide range of resources specific to eating disorders and children.
- CANPED provides information to parents who are caring for a youth with an eating disorder or eating difficulties.
- The Canadian Mental Health Association offers information on eating disorders.
Info-Social 811, option #2 is a free and confidential telephone consultation service that promptly puts you in contact with a psychosocial intervention worker in the event of a psychosocial problem.The service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Anyone living in Québec can call Info-Social 811 (or 1-866-567-4036) for themselves or a family member. Info-Social 811 professionals offer advice and may answer psychosocial-related question. When necessary, they may also direct you to a resource, such as a crisis centre, where you can receive care or the required services.
February 1 to 7 is Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW). The theme this year is: Eating Disorders Can’t Afford to Wait.
Eating Disorders affect people of all genders, sexual orientations, ages, socioeconomic class, abilities, races, and ethnic backgrounds. That is why, from February 1st to 7th every year, Eating Disorder groups across Canada unite to commemorate Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW) with a national week of action focused on educating the public about Eating Disorders.
It is a time to escalate awareness of the impact of Eating Disorders, the dangerous stereotypes and myths, and the supports available for people living with or affected by them.
EDAW is a collective effort, from coast-to-coast-to-coast. Organizations around the country are set to host local events, light notable landmarks in the colour purple, and engage in public education campaigns.
For more information about EDAW and to find out about events happening in your community, visit: Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW)
Myths and Facts about Eating Disorders
Myth 1: You have to be underweight to have an eating disorder.
Fact: People with eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Many individuals with eating disorders are of average weight or are overweight.
Myth 2: Only teenage girls and young women are affected by eating disorders.
Fact: While eating disorders are most common in young women in their teens and early twenties, they are found in men and women of all ages—from children to older adults.
Myth 3: People with eating disorders are vain.
Fact: It’s not vanity that drives people with eating disorders to follow extreme diets and obsess over their bodies, but rather an attempt to deal with uncomfortable feelings.
Myth 4: Eating disorders aren’t really that dangerous.
Fact: Eating disorders are serious conditions that cause both physical and emotional damage. All eating disorders can lead to irreversible and even life-threatening health problems, such as heart disease, bone loss, stunted growth, infertility, and kidney damage.