Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Written for and published by Kitchener Today

Eating Disorder Awareness week resides in early February, but Ontario remains one of the only provinces that doesn’t actually recognize it. In December, Bill 61 2018: An Act to proclaim Eating Disorders Awareness Week was introduced by NDP MPP Jill Andrew to rectify this.

Eating disorders are defined as insufficient or extreme food consumption which can lead to the destruction of personal well-being. Common forms include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder.

“Many people who start with a diet go on to develop an eating disorder. They affect people of all size, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background and age. Eating disorders are considered a mental illness – there is a biological component and even a genetic component – they can be influenced by one’s environment and socio-cultural influences,” says Suzanne Dietrich, who refers to herself as a non-diet Dietitian.

Anorexia is a condition driven by an intense fear of gaining weight, and an unhealthy perception of personal body image. A person with Anorexia will limit their food intake, lose drastic amounts of weight, but still see themselves as overweight. The risks, including death, are highest with this form of the disease.

Bulimia involves ingesting large amounts of food, followed by remorseful behaviour: vomiting, obsessive exercise, and use of laxatives – at times, a combination of these. Repercussions of the secretive behaviour include digestive problems, dehydration, and heart issues.

Binge Eating Disorder, in contrast to bulimia, includes over-eating without the purging. As a result, people who suffer from BED may become obese increasing health risks including heart disease, breathing issues and diabetes, among others.

There aren’t any definitive numbers on how many people in Waterloo Region suffer from the disease. Dietrich, who is also a member of the Waterloo Wellington Eating Disorder Coalition, says “that is one thing they are advocating for; research to look into and collect this data.”

It is important to remember eating disorders can be treated. Local supports include CMHA, an outpatient support group. In-patient treatment can be found at Homewood, in Guelph. There are also local private practitioners who specialize in eating disorders. Dietrich adds, “Ideally, an individual needs a full team to support them which includes a physician, potentially a psychiatrist, psychologist and/or social worker, and a dietitian. They also need support from family and friends. NEDIC offers a 1-800 call line which is also helpful.”

According to Dietrich, if you suspect a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, there are two important steps to consider:

1. Be aware of the signs & symptoms

  • Change in eating patterns – be it quantity, type of food, anxiety around eating, clean eating, following social media for biggest fat diets or eating alone.
  • Change in behaviour – pre-occupation with weight or body image, binging, purging symptoms, use of laxatives, withdrawn socially.
  • Change in activity levels: obsession with exercise
  • Change in weight, but not always. Eating disorders can occur in all shapes and sizes

2. Approach the person with concern and kindness

  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness
  • Express concern
  • If they reject your expression of concern, they might not have defined their behaviour as a problem and may not feel ready – this may appear as denial, and anger. It is important to be persistent

According to National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED), a Southern Ontario study of 1739 teens concluded only 4% of the girls who reported current binge eating and 6% of girls who were purging had ever received any assessment or treatment for these problems.

You can find a list of local services at Waterloo Wellington Eating Disorder Coalition

The bright side of the saddest day of the year; Blue Monday

It turns out the saddest day of the year’s humble beginnings were a publicity stunt, released as part of a press release for a British travel company. The man behind the formula, Dr Cliff Arnall, created the concept 14 years ago for Sky Travel.

Written for and published by Kitchener Today

January, the most underappreciated month of the year. Known as one of the longest, coldest months, it also finds itself typecast as the unhappiest. Nestled between World Religion Day and National Hug Day, you’ll find Blue Monday.

Happy Coffee

The theory behind Blue Monday suggests that the third Monday in January takes Mondays to a whole new level. This year, the ‘saddest day of the year’ falls on January 21.

What is Blue Monday and where did this unofficial day of sadness originate?

There is an actual mathematical calculation that predicts when it occurs. One of the components of the calculation includes the timing of when Christmas bills will begin to arrive. Couple this with our unmet expectations of cold-turkey resolutions, lack of daylight hours and a return to the daily grind, and we have ourselves a formula for the blues.

There are days dedicated to hats, sandwiches, and bubble wrap so why shouldn’t sadness get one too? While Blue Monday has no actual scientific backing, we choose not to fact check the equation, burying our vitamin D deficient selves under a blanket of self-fulfilling misery.

It turns out the saddest day of the year’s humble beginnings were a publicity stunt, released as part of a press release for a British travel company. The man behind the formula, Dr Cliff Arnall, created the concept 14 years ago for Sky Travel.

 “The formula uses many factors, including weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.”

The first Blue Monday was January 24, 2005. Not everyone embraced the idea, in fact, neuroscientists have described the calculation as pseudoscience; meaning while it claims to be scientific it’s never actually been proven factual.

In his defence, Arnall has said he identified the date “in a bid to encourage people, where possible, to take a positive outlook on the time of year as an opportunity for new beginnings and change.” Although labeling a day as the ‘saddest’ seems like a setup to be, well, sad. The alternative could be to find solace in the fact that if Blue Monday is indeed the saddest day of the year – every day afterwards must be inherently happier.

While we can’t control weather patterns, or the sun, we can face one of the components of the equation head on. Martha Adams, Certified Financial Planner with Tier One Investments says we should start by creating a plan that makes us feel like we are being proactive. When it comes to paying off holiday debts she suggests “starting with paying down/off the highest interest rate first and considering consolidating high interest rate into lower interest rate debt if you have availability. For example, if you have a credit card with 29% debt and a Line of Credit with available room and an interest rate of 7% you can utilize the lower interest rate to gain more traction from your payments. That means paying off your debt quicker and feeling like you’re accomplishing more than just interest payments in the process.”

The bright side to the sadness equation is we’re heading towards the happiest day of the year. According to Arnall’s calculations that day can be found on July 15, based on weather, extended daylight hours and reduced traffic – thanks to school vacation. If that feels too far off; the international day of happiness, which also happens to be the first day of spring, is March 20.

Cancer is a thief that creates unwilling heroes out of children.

Like the true criminal it is, cancer doesn’t discriminate. It cares not about destiny or achievements, nor does is consider purpose. There is no hierarchy or class that is immune.


This sweet boy taught my daughter to walk, picking her up every time she fell, both laughing hysterically. When he came to my house he requested water to drink “because the juice is unhealthy.”  His fear of being stung by a bee would send him running inside the house whenever something buzzed by his ear.

I know you know this boy, we all do.

The boy who lights up the room when he walks into it, who sees the good in everyone, whose laugh is contagious.

His name is Noah and this handsome, curious, polite boy lost his battle with cancer on his mother’s birthday.

We don’t like these types of stories, we want to ignore them. They are too sad, so we turn the page, scroll past them, change the channel.

Noah and his family have been to hell and back. They could have used this pain as ammunition to fuel resentment. Instead, they sit on a committee that plans opportunities to give back to POGO, the organization that supported them during Noah’s battle.

POGO stands for Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario. They support pediatric cancer care professionals, provide families with services and programs to meet the needs of kids with cancer, as well as offering support for survivors.


We need to stop tuning out, scrolling past and turning the page. There are many Noahs who need us to listen.

On September 9, a community of young warriors, and the loved ones who will do anything for them are attending the KW Run for POGO.

On this day they will give their support to the organization that has been supporting them, in hopes of raising awareness and funds.

I will be there for Noah, the boy who was terrified of bees but bravely faced childhood cancer.

Will you?

 pogo link

Watch my interview with Dr. Jodi Rosner, the founder of this event:

In Studio Interview 2

For more information head to: