Debunking Eating Disorder Myths
1. Eating disorders are primarily about food.
“Just eat.” This might be your intuitive response to someone who refuses food — or to someone who's bingeing, “Just stop eating.” These are among the least helpful comments you can make to someone with an eating disorder. Eating disorders have complex causes and can't be willed away.
2. People who are normal or overweight cannot have eating disorders.
It is difficult to predict whether or not someone has an eating disorder because not all eating disorders are determined by the size and weight of a person. An eating disorder is not always easy to detect based on weight. Bulimics tend to be at an average, or even above average, weight. Compulsive overeaters are typically overweight rather than underweight.
3. You can never exercise too much.
While in most cases exercise can be very beneficial, too much exercise, and not enough calorie absorption in the body, is harmful. Excessive exercise can be very unhealthy causing problems such as dehydration, fatigue, injuries such as shin splints, cartilage damage and stress fractures, Osteoporosis, Amenorrhea, heart problems and Arthritis.
4. Only women can be affected by eating disorders.
Women are not the only ones who can suffer from eating disorders. In fact, the latest information states that 1 in 4 cases of eating disorders affect men.
5. Eating disorders are a disease of vanity/ by choice.
People do not choose to have eating disorders. They develop over time and require appropriate treatment to address the complex medical/psychiatric symptoms and underlying issues. There are several contributing factors that may lead to the emergence of an eating disorder although no defined cause has been established. They include biological, social, psychological and interpersonal factors.
6. It’s all about food really.
Usually, eating disorders are indicators to a repressed problem. Some people turn to food for comfort. By focusing on food, weight and calories, a person is able to block out or numb painful feelings and emotions.
7. Only people of high socioeconomic status get eating disorders.
People in all socioeconomic levels have eating disorders. The disorders have been identified across all socioeconomic groups, age groups, religions, both sexes, and in many countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America.
8. Eating disorders only occur in young girls and adolescent females.
Eating disorders do not discriminate between age and gender. 1 in every 4 eating disorders cases are male. Also, the most rapidly growing group of individuals developing eating disorders are women in midlife.
9. Men who suffer from eating disorders tend to be gay.
Sexual orientation has no correlation with developing an eating disorder.
10. Achieving normal weight means the eating disorder is cured
Weight recovery is essential to enabling a person with Anorexia to participate meaningfully in further treatment, such as psychological therapy. Recovering to normal weight does not in and of itself signify a cure, because eating disorders are complex medical/psychiatric illnesses.