The stigma around eating disorders can be an obstacle for those seeking treatment. People may feel ashamed and worry about how they are viewed, which can make it difficult to take the first step toward getting help. It is important to challenge these stigmas and understand that anyone can experience an eating disorder regardless of their age, gender, or social status.
What Causes Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED) often have a genetic component and can run in families. However, environmental factors such as culture and media sources can have a strong influence on behaviors related to body image and food intake. This makes it difficult to single out a particular cause of an eating disorder – rather, it is likely caused by multiple influences working together over time. It is also important to recognize that despite cultural pressures, everyone has the right to seek treatment without judgment or criticism.
Signs & Symptoms of an Eating Disorder
The signs of an eating disorder are often subtle at first but can increase in intensity over time if left untreated. Common warning signs include extreme caloric restriction or restrictive dieting, binging episodes followed by purging behaviors like vomiting or laxative abuse, excessive exercise routines with no regard for health consequences, distorted body image including constant comparison of one’s own body with others’, rigid ritualistic behaviors surrounding eating or food prep/combinations and fear of gaining weight or becoming “fat”. When these warning signs become more severe it is important to seek professional help from a medical doctor and ideally a qualified mental health provider who specializes in disordered eating issues.
It can be difficult for someone struggling with an eating disorder to ask for help. People may feel embarrassed at the thought of discussing their symptoms openly with family members or caregivers. It’s important to remember that there is no shame in seeking treatment – it should be seen as a positive step towards better physical and mental health.
Friends and family members can play an important role in supporting someone through the healing process by being understanding of the struggles associated with disordered eating. Educating oneself on the different types of interventions available for treating disordered eating can also be helpful when talking through options with someone emotionally invested in the issue. Additionally, creating a safe space free from judgment or criticism where individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves openly will aid greatly in addressing any feelings surrounding self-consciousness regarding one’s body image or size while undergoing treatment for an eating disorder.
Challenge the Stigma
At its core, challenging stigmas around disordered eating involves changing our ideas about what constitutes “normal” when it comes to health habits relating to food intake and activity level; understanding that everyone deserves access to quality healthcare without judgment; providing individuals struggling with body image issues support systems filled with compassion; and educating ourselves on all aspects of disordered eating so we have resources at hand if needed during times of need.
If you, or someone you love, is suffering from an eating disorder, the time is now to reach out for help. The earlier someone gets treatment, the more likely it is that they will make a full recovery. To speak with one of our admission specialists, please give us a call at 435-938-6060.