Eating disorders are often misunderstood by people who have not experienced them first hand and because of this limited knowledge, common myths about eating disorders have emerged. Replacing these common misconceptions with more compassionate attitudes will help increase awareness to support those who suffer. Here are some eating disorder myths debunked:
- The development of eating disorders is rooted in appearance and vanity. From an outsider’s perspective, it can seem as though people with eating disorders are self-absorbed or desperate for attention. In most cases, however, their extreme behaviors are propelled by insecurity. For individuals suffering from disordered eating, shedding pounds is not about enhancing their bodies. It’s about numbing their lack of confidence, deep inner loathing, or other negative emotions with an illusory sense of control over how their bodies function.
- For most people, eating disorders tend to result from traumatic events. While eating disorders do often develop as a result of past trauma, this is not always the case. Many people raised in stable home environments with healthy social networks and opportunities for success become eating disorder victims just as readily as those with traumatic backgrounds.
- Once sufferers achieve healthy weight restoration, they will be “cured”. Just because an individual’s body doesn’t appear underweight or malnourished anymore does not mean the recovery process has reached a smooth, orderly conclusion. Eating disorder recovery is an ongoing process that these individuals will probably struggle with forever. Often, those who look healthy on the outside continue to face severe urges, anxiety, and distress internally.
- Disordered eating behaviors follow specific patterns and conventions. Because eating disorders are as unique and individualized as the people who struggle with them, it’s not realistic to impose a formula on how their symptoms manifest. There are certain behaviors and symptoms to watch out for, but these illnesses can’t be treated with a one-size-fits-all approach.
- Those who want to find healing, simply need to “consume more food.” While many behaviors seem to orbit around caloric intake, the actual development of eating disorders is not about food. If the solution to breaking the toxic cycle of restriction, deprivation, and oppression was to start consuming more balanced meals, then eating disorders would not feel so difficult to recover from. Addressing the physical issues of weight, calories, or food rituals are just symptomatic of deeper-rooted emotions of shame, fear, grief, and self-doubt.
Educating yourself on eating disorders and what to look for can help raise awareness to support those who suffer from disordered eating. Although we covered five common eating disorder myths above, there are plenty more to educate yourself on to continue spreading awareness of this illness. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of the illness, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Give us a call at 435-938-6060.