Over the past month I’ve lost 12 pounds by following a sensible diet plan, combined with exercise. At 44, I’m learning to be aware of what I eat and how I move—but this wasn’t always the case. As a teenager I starved myself down to a size 5 (which didn’t fit my body type very well; I was super thin), by eating pretty much only dry toast and black coffee. My desire to disappear was rooted in self-esteem issues, and could have escalated into a full blown eating disorder if I hadn’t come to my senses, and to the table.

This is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb. 24-March 1), so I thought I’d call your awareness to the documents benefits of massage for those suffering from such a disorder.

The Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine produced the report, “Anorexia Nervosa Symptoms Reduced by Massage,” and you can read MASSAGE Magazine’s synopsis of the report here: www.massagemag.com/anorexia.

In short, the research noted that massage alleviates anxiety, depression, eating- disorder symptoms, poor body image and biochemical abnormalities for women diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.

In addition to TRI’s work, another research study shows that complementary approach that includes massage therapy benefits eating-disordered patients’ insomnia and constipation (www.massagemag.com/eatingdisorders). That research was conducted by Sierra Tucson, an inpatient behavioral disorder and addiction treatment center in Tucson, Arizona.

Up to 24 million people suffer from an eating disorder—anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating— in the U.S., according to The Renfrew Center Foundation, which focuses on prevention and education about eating disorders. Most of those people are young women, between the ages of 12 and 20—not the typical massage client. I wonder, though, what difference could be made in many of their lives if more massage therapists did outreach with hospitals and clinics treating eating-disordered patients.