Today is one of those glorious Sunday afternoons when the sun is out and the birds are chirping. It is one of those days where the world feels right and excitement, for no apparent reason, looms above. And yet, somewhere out there someone is suffering alone from an eating disorder. Someone is wondering when the binge will end and the weight will be released. That someone used to be me. It is a lonely, scary place to be.

Today I was reading an e-mail from The International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (also known as iaedp) and learned something I was not aware of. To date, iaedp is the only organization in the world that certifies professional competency to treat eating disorders through its Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS) and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist-Nutritionist (CEDS-N) certifications (Cumella, 2009). There currently are only 104 CEDS or CEDS-N professionals with active certifications. Interestingly, I am one of the 104 certified eating disorder specialists, and yet there are 923,000 healthcare providers who can offer counseling services in the United States! How could this be? Only 104, or 0.01%, have a CEDS or CEDS-N!

More interesting, to date, there are 642 healthcare providers in the US and Canada who claim to specialize in eating disorder treatment; however, only 104, or 16%, have evidence of their competency to do so through a recognized certification program, the CEDS or CEDS-N (Cumella, 2009). This baffles my mind! Eating disorders are chronic, progressive, and fatal. We need more certified experts working with patients with such a deadly disease.

I read a few years ago that by the year 2015 if preventative measures are not in place we could see 75% of the population overweight or obese. This is a huge number! Think about it, 75 people out of 100 will be wearing extra weight. What will this do to healthcare? What is the answer? I believe we need to move closer to “real” food and further from “processed” foods. Sugar, flour, and wheat, along with high fatty foods seem to be the culprit, especially for us who suffer from eating disorders. And there are plenty of us!

Today, as a provider certified to treat eating disorders, I carry a qualification that few have achieved. It seems unthinkable there are 923,000 healthcare providers who can offer counseling services in the United States, and yet there are only 104, or 0.01%, certified as eating disorder specialists! I think what makes me most uncomfortable is learning healthcare providers are claiming to specialize in eating disorder treatment and yet few have the education, certification and/or authority to do so. The International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals is recognized for certification programs that train and prepare practitioners to deal with a disorder that is growing with each passing minute. Perhaps if the word gets out more and more will sign up to join the certified eating disorder specialists to help those suffering from eating disorders reach a place of recovery.

Although there are many hurdles the eating disorder professional must jump through in order to stay abreast to the ever-changing field of eating disorders, it is well worth the efforts. Every day I am reaching out and helping someone who is suffering as I had. Every day I know someone is dying from this disease. Every day I know I can reach out my hand to another and lift them out of their pain. Nobody has to suffer from this disease. There are answers and help that can take you to recovery. I know…I live in recovery every day.

It is no secret there are millions suffering from eating disorders. As I sit here comfortable in my own recovery on this beautiful Sunday late afternoon I wonder how many out there are feeling alone, binging, purging, or restricting today. I know I will be able to go to sleep tonight with no shame or regrets for having eaten foods that are causing me to binge, crave, or purge. Thank God I never purged with food, but I certainly did my share with over exercising and an occasional bout with laxatives. Just writing the words down makes me wiggle with discomfort. It is hard to believe a decade and a half ago I was really suffering and yet I looked so good on the outside. I was working a program for the most part…but then the disease would rear its ugly head with no warning. Tonight, I will be able to close my eyes and drift off to sleep knowing I am in a good place spiritually, physically, and emotionally.


US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved May 3, 2009 from

Academy for Eating Disorders. Retrieved May 3, 2009 from

Cumella, E. J. (2009). News for Eating Disorders Professionals. International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals. Retrieved on May 13 from:

Photos taken by: Dr. Lisa Ortigara Crego

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