GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — During eating disorder awareness week, a local doctor is highlighting the need for education on the subject.

It’s that estimated early 30 million Americans will deal with an eating disorder at some point in their lives, according to the Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

“The educational component around eating disorders needs to be upped. People don’t understand it. I think we need more awareness and we certainly need to take action related to eating disorders and folks that we know or ourselves if we have eating disorders,” said Dr. James Forshee, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Priority Health.

He said there’s a lot of physical and mental changes that go on with eating disorders. There are a few signs to watch out for.

“Things like additional focus and more concern related to food, people changing weight up and down, social behaviors that change and isolation, and then more focus on food rituals, or even body images or body shape,” Forshee explained.

To help people in our lives with an eating disorder, Forshee says be an active listener.

“First of all, we have to be compassionate. We have to recognize that being an active listener is part of the journey that they need to be on. We need to recognize also in terms of compassion that people need to be encouraged to talk … and then finally, we need to be curious. I think we need to take the time to learn about eating disorders and be able to recognize what they are and some of the treatments that are available,” said Forshee.

Priority health has resources for those who may be struggling with an eating disorder, including a 24/7 behavioral health hotline, an online Wellbeing Hub with suggestions and assistance and MyStrength, a mental health and wellness app. The National Eating Disorder website also includes helpful information and resources.