Eating Disorder Myths

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The most common image of a person suffering from an eating disorder is an already skinny teenage girl striving to look more like a supermodel. But, eating disorders don’t discriminate. Anyone can have an eating disorder no matter their age, gender, or body type.

National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) just wrapped up their 15th annual eating disorder awareness week and the theme was “I had no idea…” The purpose of this week was to dispel common myths about eating disorders. We are going to cover five common myths and the real facts behind them.

 

 

Myth- Eating Disorder are only for girls

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Facts- 40 million people in the US suffer from eating disorders. About 10 million of them are male. While the majority is female, a significant number of men suffer. Just as girls are constantly pressured with the Barbie doll image and that of celebrities, men are pressured to look like super heroes and famous actors.

 

Myth- The cure for eating disorders is just to eat more

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Facts- While eating more will solve the physical problems it will not solve the psychological problems. Most eating disorders stem from a place of wanting to obtain the perfect body and from there become gradually more and more dangerous. It is important to address the psychological issues as well. Just telling someone with an eating disorder to eat more healthfully is not going to solve the problem, and it could make it worse.

 

Myth- Eating disorders are only for skinny people

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Facts- There are three main types of eating disorders and they include people of all body types.

Anorexia Nervosa is not consuming enough calories for the body to perform properly, while this is common among people who are really skinny, overweight and average weight people can also suffer from this disorder. It is not about being underweight, but rather about not getting enough calories.

Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by eating large amounts of food in one sitting and then purging them regularly though vomiting after the meal. Again, while this is more common among underweight individuals, being underweight is not a requirement for diagnosis.

Binge Eating is eating large amounts of food at once without the intent of purging. This disorder is more common among overweight individuals.

Myth- Eating disorders are just  phases 

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Fact- All types of eating disorders are dangerous and have serious consequences on a person’s health and should be treated as such. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. 20% of people with eating disorders will die from their illness.

Myth- There is no hope

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Fact- While recovery can be hard, it is possible. People who complete treatment are able to live healthy long lives.

 

If you think you might be suffering from an eating disorder talk to someone there are people out there who want to help.

Crisis Call Center

800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week

http://crisiscallcenter.org/crisisservices.html

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Eating Disorders

630-577-1330

7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday

http://www.anad.org

 

National Eating Disorders Association

800-931-2237

6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

Self-esteem: Start being more positive!

Bullying, Depression, Health, Life, School

Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder in which individuals view him/herself as inadequate, unworthy, unlovable, and/or incompetent. It could be because of their body, how smart they think they are, how talented they think they are, or anything else. Essentially, it’s all about how much you feel you are worth and also how much you feel other people value you.

Among high school students, 44% of girls and 15% of guys are trying to lose weight, and 70% of students believe they are not good enough in some way. Teens who have low self-esteem are very likely to become depressed, cut themselves, commit suicide, develop and eating disorder and begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

The main cause of low self-esteem is looks. Whether someone wears plus-size pants, has too many freckles, or has frizzy hair, everybody has something they don’t like about themselves. People develop ideas of how they “should” look based on media images, and what their peers say. Teens look at what celebrities look like and feel like they should look like that, and there must be something wrong with them if they don’t. They think girls are only beautiful if they wear a size 2, lots of makeup, and have “perfect” hair, and that guys are only attractive if they’re “manly” and muscular. Teens also tease each other about the way they look, and that usually causes the victim of the bullying to feel poorly about themselves. For some reason, a lot of people think it makes them look good if they make someone else look bad.

Here’s what you should do if you feel bad about yourself:

  1. Find friends who like and appreciate you for who you are. Don’t try to fit in with a certain clique because you want to be cool. If someone’s your real friend, you won’t have to impress them in order for them to like you. Your friends should also be encouraging and uplifting, and not put you down.
  2. Have a positive, optimistic attitude. Sure, there are probably certain things you’re not so good at… you’re human, you’re not going to be perfect. But remember all the things you ARE good at!
  3. When you start telling yourself negative things, just stop. Instead, think about positive things about yourself and give yourself compliments!
  4. If you’re unhappy with your looks, think about things you could realistically change if you really want to. You won’t be able to do anything about your nose, but you could change the shape of your eyebrows, or tone up your arm muscles. Set some realistic goals and think of ways you can achieve them.
  5. Eat healthy and exercise. Being healthier will make you feel better about the way you look.

If you begin doing all these things, you’ll start feeling better about yourself. If you’re worried that a friend might have low self-esteem, encourage them and start letting them know how great you think they are.

If you or your friend really start feeling depressed and nothing seems to be working, tell a parent, teacher, coach, or counselor. Make sure it’s someone you can trust, someone who you KNOW will be encouraging and uplifting. They can help you or your friend with any self-esteem issues. Or call a local or national teen crisis hotline to get help. We are all beautiful and unique in our own way, nobody should feel like they aren’t valued!