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
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
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
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
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
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
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Eating Disorders
7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday
National Eating Disorders Association
6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday