It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week and YouBeauty is publishing articles to educate our readers on eating disorders and how to get help. 

Pop culture can treat eating disorders as a phase, a struggle girls go through in high school. But this week, we’re reminding our readers that eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. They don’t discriminate based on age or income and they don’t end just because a sufferer grows up. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 30 million Americans — both men and women — will be impacted by an eating disorder during their lifetime.

We asked Lynn Grefe, NEDA President & CEO, for some important terms to know when we talk about eating disorders:

Media Literacy: We’re saturated with images. teaching people how to read through advertising and understand that some of it is propoganda. Advertising, bottom line, is to promote product. Media literacy teaches people to read between the lines.

Pro-Ana / Pro- Mia: “These are (terrible) pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia “educational” websites that encourage people to stay on their non-eating behaviors. They propogate the misinformed notion that eating disorders are not an illness, but a choice. (Ana” refers to anorexia and “mia” to bulimia.)

Binge Eating Disorder: Binge Eating Disorder (BED) was officially diagnosed in the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders this year. This eating disorder is characterized by frequent episodes of consuming large amounts of food, but without behaviors to prevent weight-gain (such as self-induced vomiting).

Dieting: The diet industry is a $60 billion industr encompassing diet fads, cleanses, and crash diets, While there are certainly plenty of “normal dieters” who eat healthfully, there is no denying that the diet industry influences disordered eating. And it affects people while they are young, too: According to NEDA, 46% of 9- to 11-year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets and 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives.

Fat-Shaming: Bullying as it relates to one’s body size.

According to Grefe,  the medical community has not made enough progress on how eating disorders are treated or diagnosed: Doctors are not necessarily asking the right questions, she says, and don’t probe into a patient’s history with eating disorders. NEDA partners with a group called Screening for Mental Health, which provides a website called that offers a free, quick and anonymous assesment for an eating disorder.

Grefe is enthusiastic, however, about the increasing number of celebrities who have come forward to proclaim their body positivity. Celebs like Victoria’s Secret model Sara Sampaio and singer Miranda Lambert are all love for their shape in interviews, but Grefe wishes celebrites would put their money (and their time) where their mouth is and join charities at official events. In the meantime, we can all do our part and educate ourselves about this silent illness.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from an eating disorder, call the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or email at [email protected]

Read More From Eating Disorders Awareness Week: 

Picky Eating vs. An Eating Disorder: What’s The Difference?