As we come to a close of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week I thought it would be beneficial to list a couple of myths about all eating disorders that are untrue. This will help if you want to educate yourself or know someone who is currently or has struggled with an eating disorder.
I won’t go into huge details for each suggestion. But there is one thing I need for you to take away from this article: Eating disorders are never about food.
There are three types of main eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Those who suffer from anorexia starve themselves; they may also control their weight with exercise or diet pills. Bulimics inflict a destructive cycle of binging and purging. Some ways of purging are: inducing vomiting, fasting, taking laxatives or excessively exercising. Binge eaters can consume over thousands of calories in one short period of time.
Now let’s debunk some common myths.
“You must be underweight to have an eating disorder.”
False. Those who suffer from eating disorders come in all sizes and shapes. Their weight is not correlated to having an eating disorder or not.
“Those who have an eating disorder must be vain.”
False. It’s not actually the way they look that drives them to induce negative eating habits. Rather it’s the issues that they are choosing not to address and instead fixate on food.
“Eating disorders are a lifestyle choice. You choose to have an eating disorder.”
False. Completely false. Eating disorders are a serious illness that cause major mental and physical consequences. Most of us who have dealt with the consequences will tell you our eating disorder has wrecked years of our lives that we will never get back.
“Anorexia is the only life threatening eating disorder.”
False. All variations of eating disorders can be fatal. And if they do not prove to be fatal they can cause cardiac complications, gastrointestinal distress, infertility and bone disease.
“Recovery is not possible.”
False. Though recovery is not easy, is it possible. It will not be a quick fix, it can take months maybe even years. For example, I completed my treatment after six months. Still to this day I attend an aftercare group with other women who struggle with their eating disorders on a daily basis even though we are not actively participating in such behaviors.
Those that have an eating disorder need medical help. As much as you want to help, you are not equipped to be their therapist. If you want to help someone, be there for them, listen, let them know they are not alone. It will make a difference.
You might also find these posts helpful:
How to be a good partner to someone struggling with mental health issues & What I learned about self-love after an eating disorder.