Eating Disorders in Adolescents: Reject the Myths and Lies

Eating disorders in adolescents are complex and serious mental illnesses. Unfortunately, stereotypes and misinformation make teen eating disorders misunderstood. If you have a teen who’s suffering from an eating disorder, gain insight into the facts rather than succumbing to the lies. Disregard these common myths about eating disorders in order to help your teen in their pursuit of recovery:

Myth #1: Eating disorders result in dramatic weight loss

The skeletal-looking anorexic is almost always the image of an eating disorder. While eating disorders do sometimes result in weight loss, this isn’t always the case. Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, and even Anorexia doesn’t necessarily mean losing weight. Eating disorders in adolescents are about the disordered behaviors your teen is engaging in, not the number on the scale.

Learn about the myths surrounding eating disorders in adolescents.Myth #2: It’s all about the food

Contrary to popular belief, the root of an eating disorder does not stem from food. Food is just a casualty of the disorder. Those who struggle with eating disorders are usually seeking some form of control when they feel like they’ve lost it in other areas of their life. The food becomes this object of control in order to cope with other problems in their life.

Myth #3: You are the reason for your teen’s eating disorder

When parents discover that their child has an eating disorder, their first instinct is often to ask, “where did I go wrong?” or “what could I have done to prevent this?”

It’s important to remember that you alone are not the cause of your teen’s eating disorder. Eating disorders are often described as the “perfect storm” where genetics load the gun, but something else pulls the trigger. Many people are often predisposed to eating disorders, and eventually, it becomes a matter of what is going to set it off.

Myth #4:  Eating disorders in adolescents are a choice and they stem from vanity

This is one of the harshest eating disorder stereotypes, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. Like any physical disorder, mental diseases are not a choice. Your teen did not choose to be plagued by this disorder and does not deserve to be blamed for it. Many people wrongly assume that people can switch their eating disorder behaviors on and off, using them as a way to manipulate weight. As mentioned earlier, eating disorders in adolescents can manifest in weight loss, but this is just one of the many symptoms.

Myth #5: Dieting and exercising do no harm

Our society is so condoning of dieting and exercising, that these activities have become glorified. But for a lot of people (teens in particular) obsessive dieting can be a gateway for eating disorders. While some teens can try a diet one day and be over it the next, your teen’s mind does not work this way. People who struggle with eating disorders are addicted to the diet mentality as well as to working out. Don’t ignore eating disorder warning signs because your teen is engaging in seemingly “normal” activities.

Myth #6: Weight restoration does not mean recovery

Maybe you watch every meal your teen eats, maybe you send them to a dietitian and ensure they’re completing their meal plan, maybe they have an okay from their doctor that they are at a healthy weight again. This alone, however, does not mean they’re recovered. Your teen may still be engaging in disordered behaviors as well as have a disordered mindset even if they’ve gained their weight back. The road to recovery is a long one that takes time and patience.

Are you worried you or a loved one is suffering from binge eating? Take our binge eating quiz to find out more information

Seek help from a therapist

Don’t buy into everything you read online or see in the media. If you think your teen may be suffering from an eating disorder, seek out the true facts. The National Eating Disorders Association offers resources and support to those who struggle with teen eating disorders as well as their loved ones.

Eddins Counseling Group has qualified therapists that specialize in eating disorders. Contact us at 832-559-2622 for more information or book an appointment online. There is hope for a successful recovery journey.

Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

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