Part I - The Alliance of Eating Disorder Awareness: Yes, You Can Recover

Recently, taking advantage of being in south Florida to visit my father (I live in London), I contacted the Alliance of Eating Disorder Awareness and was delighted to meet Johanna Kandel, CEO and Founder, and Sharon Glynn, Director of Programming.

“You can recover, and we will do all we can to help you” is their powerful message.

I asked Johanna what led to her founding the Alliance in 2000 (on a shoe string budget). She told me she was eager to do something “hands on – not just learn about it”. And so, in her early twenties, she set out on a mission to aid her own recovery and educate others.

The Alliance has an impressive track record. They state on their website that they are:

… dedicated to providing programs and activities aimed at outreach and education related to health promotion, including all eating disorders, positive body image, and self-esteem….(it) offers educational presentations, support groups for those struggling and for their family and friends, advocacy for mental health legislation, toll-free national phone help line, as well as referrals, training, support and mentoring services all free of charge. Since its inception, The Alliance has offered presentations…to more than 200,000 individuals throughout the United States, including in-office learning forums for all health care professionals.

alliance for eating disorders - walk

Everyone who works with these issues knows how essential awareness is, and on February 28th the Alliance successfully held it’s 4th Annual “celebrating everyBODY: A walk for eating disorder awareness”. Eating disorder ‘champion’ Congressman Ted Deutch supported and over 800 walkers participated.

Of course, this being the US we couldn’t avoid the literally life-threatening issue of insurers paying (or not, or not enough) for treatment. A nightmare of obfuscation, delay and plain refusing to admit it as a mental illness, or refusing to ‘pay up’ by calling it a mental illness (Catch-22). Any excuse.

The Alliance, in conjunction with many other advocates and groups, puts pressure on the US Government to legislate for insurers to pay for treatment. Johanna’s parents, like so many others, couldn’t get all the help they needed for their daughter.

Sound familiar? Here in the UK we also suffer from lack of Government NHS funding ( another post….)

The doctor who told Johanna “no one ever recovers from an eating disorder” highlights the ignorance which we all need to fight and legislate against. It’s hard enough without having medical professionals giving up before they’ve started, don’t you think?

The Alliance’s website outlines their mission to provide education and support, in the community and in-house.Their treatment referral guides are valuable resources for every group. One such group they work with are medical professionals, in particular primary physicians, whose eating disorder training during medical studies, I was told, “is about 6 minutes”.  Surprised? No.

Later this week I’ll be writing about what Johanna describes as her “sequential” eating disorders and looking at her book:Life Beyond Your Eating Disorder. As an educator, I’m also looking forward to sitting in on one of Sharon’s presentations when I return to Florida next month.


You can get more details of the Alliance’s activities from their website, as well as on Twitter via @AllianceforEDA. “The Alliance is a non-profit organization working to prevent eating disorders & promote a positive body image, free from weight preoccupation & size prejudice.”

Sounds good to me.




1 comment to Part I – The Alliance of Eating Disorder Awareness: You Can Recover

  • Rose

    Both blogs #1 and #2 very interesting with lots of information.
    There seem to be lots of pockets of people who want help
    And instruction.
    Still eating being an everyday thing and food being about
    at all times it has become a day to day effort for many.
    Many thanks for you input


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