Eating Disorder Myth Busters
The increasingly growing rate of eating disorders in our community are a sure sign that something is definitely wrong- something we as a community need to work on with greater force soon. There are a lot of misconceptions about eating disorders, and as an eating disorder therapist in Houston who has previously struggled with the disorder in my teens, I’d like to talk a little about why these misconceptions really hurt. The following are common eating disorder myths.
“Eating disorders are very rare.”
False. 10-15% of Americans suffer from a serious eating disorder and that doesn’t include the people suffering from some form of disordered eating that doesn’t meet the criteria. This misconception hurts because even doctors completely forget to assess for eating disorders and this can lead to misdiagnosis and even a worsening of problems.
“Eating disorders are not even a big deal.”
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illness, and that doesn’t include some of the health problems people can develop later on due to an eating disorder. These health problems include diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart issues.
“Eating disorders are just diets.”
While diet culture, body shaming and early onset of dieting can contribute to eating disorders, eating disorders are definitely much more serious than “just a diet.” “Diet” literally just means how a person eats anyways.
“People who struggle with eating disorders are all skinny.”
There are several types of eating disorders. Anorexia is presented the most in the media. Bulimia involves bingeing on huge amounts of food and then purging the food through vomiting, laxatives, or excessive exercise. Binge eating disorder involves bingeing on huge amounts of food without purging. Of course, people with eating disorders can struggle with a combination of all of these. Bottom line is eating disorders are a mental illness and anyone at any weight can struggle with one.
When I struggled with my eating disorder, I would go up and down, but I was never clinically “underweight” (I use quotations because the BMI is crap, but more on that later). Therefore, I also doubted whether I really had one and people around me would congratulate me every time I lost weight. I was literally being congratulated for eating less than 1,000 calories a day and vomiting every time that I binged. Even doctors were congratulating me.
“Eating disorders are a white girl problem.”
When you think of someone with an eating disorder, what comes to mind? For me, it used to be an extremely thin, upper middle class, white teenage girl. Eating disorders can affect anyone. Males make up 25% of people with anorexia and 40% of people with binge eating disorder.
These are just a few of the myths that particularly stood out to me at this time. I’ll include more later as they come up. I’ll also be writing a post on what helped ME in eating disorder recovery.
Eating Disorder Treatment
If you are struggling with food, please don’t be ashamed to ask for help. The National ED Helpline: 1800 33 4673 is a good place to start. If you are in Houston, you can schedule an appointment with me here. I know from experience that eating disorder recovery is possible!
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Tags: eating disorders