Although most people have heard of eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, they may not understand how these disorders really work. This can increase risk of believing myths and hearsay which can keep people from getting the eating disorder treatment they need. Many people falsely believe that eating problems are about control, but it goes much deeper than that, and individuals are often battling other challenges as well.
Recognizing signs of eating disorders is essential because they can be serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that slowly damage a person’s body and require intermediate intervention before they become more severe. Here are a few common myths that it is time to debunk:
Appearance is (Not) Everything
A common myth about eating disorders is that they can be identified just by looking at someone and whether they have lost or gained a noticeable amount of weight. However, everyone’s body is different, and someone may have fluctuations in their weight without it being a sign of an eating disorder. Furthermore, someone can have a healthy weight and still suffer from anorexia, bulimia, or another condition. Plus, underlying factors such as a substance use disorder can also impact someone’s appearance and appetite.
Whether or not someone appears healthy is not enough to go on; it is important to look at their relationship with food and perceptions about self-image as well.
“But the Guy on TV Said So!”
When trying to understand eating disorders, many people seek to place blame. They criticize ads on television or in magazines, movies, tv shows, or social media for their perceptions about weight and how someone should look. They point their finger at images seen in popular media. They claim that these sources lead to eating disorders by presenting unrealistic expectations, when in reality, it is a combination of factors such as genetics, environment, and psychological condition that can trigger eating disorders.
Sliding Food Scale
A common misconception about how to overcome an eating disorder is to do the opposite of the problem. For instance, if someone has anorexia, they just need to eat more, or if they have bulimia, they need to eat less. However, the solution is not that simple, and a sudden shift in eating can evolve into binge-eating or anorexia, taking a person toward the opposite extreme. Plus, eating disorder recovery can be complicated by other issues that vary from person to person. Individuals need to address physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual issues related to eating disorders, not just how much or what they eat.
Underestimating the Problem
One of the worst myths to believe is that eating disorders are a minor problem that will resolve on their own in time. Restricting food as well as binging and purging can be very taxing on the body and contribute to malnutrition, organ damage, and more. This can become potentially life-threatening. In addition, individuals may experience depression symptoms related to their eating disorder, or have co-occurring disorders that make seeking eating disorder treatment even more imperative. There are physical and mental health ramifications of eating disorders, and these conditions do not usually go away without professional treatment.
A Question of Age
There is also a common misconception that only teens or young adults develop eating disorders, when in reality eating disorders affect all age groups. Everyone from adolescents to senior citizens can be affected. In addition, they impact both women and men. Eating disorder recovery is an essential part of maintaining good health at any age.
Dispelling false information about eating disorders can go a long way in raising awareness and encouraging individuals to seek professional help rather than trying to ignore the problem or treat it on their own. Learning how to overcome an eating disorder can be challenging because everyone’s situation is different, but turning to a recovery center like Crossroads can help individuals overcome eating disorders and co-occurring disorders through programs tailored to their unique needs. Eating disorder recovery is possible, and women and men alike can develop healthier relationships with food and improved mental health to support lasting recovery.
If you or someone you love are exhibiting the signs of an eating disorder or co-occurring disorders, turn to Crossroads for the comprehensive treatment you need for recovery. Make your health and well-being a priority and remember who you wanted to be.