Tegan Duncan (BSc ‘19) is the co-creator of GAIN, a film that premieres during Eating Disorder Awareness Week and tells the story of her struggle with anorexia nervosa.
About a year ago, Tegan Duncan was at Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, receiving treatment for anorexia nervosa. The York grad and former varsity hockey player had battled the disease during her time at York, with some improvement, but didn’t begin treatment until after graduation.
“I started having struggles with food and exercise in third year, and wasn’t able to play most of the season,” says Duncan. “I got a bit better in fourth year, but I never tackled the underlying issues causing my illness.”
It was at the hospital that she met fellow patient Zeina Beidas, and an idea was born. Duncan, 23, and Beidas, 20, began discussing the idea of producing a documentary about their illness.
And now, they have turned that once very theoretical idea into a reality. The finished product is their film GAIN – an educational documentary about anorexia nervosa that details their own struggles while providing information and education about the illness itself. The film is the first eating disorder documentary since 2006, and its launch on Feb. 2 takes place during Ontario’s inaugural ‘Eating Disorder Awareness Week.’
“This is a bigger issue than people think it is,’ says Duncan. “The amount of people suffering prompted us to want to do some kind of awareness project. We filmed everything in the prime of COVID, with social distance measures and everything. It did make it more difficult, but it all worked out in the end.”
“I started having struggles with food and exercise in third year, and wasn’t able to play most of the season. I got a bit better in fourth year, but I never tackled the underlying issues causing my illness.”
In the film, Duncan discusses how her obsession with training and rigidity around healthy eating ultimately contributed to the onset of her eating disorder. The film is raw, heart wrenching and educational, shedding light on the reality of an illness that is so rarely discussed in mainstream media.
“Our main goal is education and awareness,” says Duncan. “We’re telling out stories, but in a way that complements what the researchers and doctors in the film are saying. I think it will resonate with people more if they had a personal experience with an eating disorder or know someone who has, but it’s really for anyone.”
Duncan notes that eating disorders are on the rise during the pandemic, especially among young people, so the subject matter is more relevant than ever right now.
Following the premiere, the pair plans to submit the film to school boards and other organizations so it can be viewed by as broad an audience as possible.
“We’re hoping it will make a big impact.”