Eating disorders affect people from all different backgrounds. About 30 million Americans will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their life, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. This year’s theme for National Eating Disorder Awareness week is Let’s Get Real; which focuses on expanding the conversation to real issues facing eating disorder prevention and recovery because there are a few myths about eating disorders. Here are the 3 most common myths about eating disorders.
Myth #1: You can tell if someone has an eating disorder based on how they look.
The media often portrays individuals with eating disorders to be young and white/ Caucasian. In reality, eating disorders affect individuals of all shapes and sizes, ages, genders and ethnicities.13% of women over the age of 50 years old engage in eating disorder behaviors (National Eating Disorder Association). Because of these stereotypes, sometimes individuals delay eating disorder treatment.
Myth #2: Eating disorders are only about food and weight.
While recovery from an eating disorder will include interventions for normalizing food patterns and behaviors, there are underlying issues that need to be addressed in order to make a full recovery. There are 4 types of eating disorders and each disorder has different underlying issues.The most common eating disorder in the United States is binge eating disorder (BED). According to National Eating Disorder Association, it is estimated that 3.5% of women, 2% of men, and 30% to 40% of those seeking weight loss treatments can be clinically diagnosed with binge eating disorder. The person with the disorders needs something that not only focuses on their physical health but also focused on their psychological, emotional, and social well-being.
Myth #3: Eating disorders are a lifestyle choice.
Eating disorders are life-threatening mental illnesses with serious physical and mental impacts. Eating disorder behaviors are often used as a way to cope with uncomfortable emotions or difficult life events. According to National Eating Disorder Association, Girls who suffered teasing by members of their families were 1.5 times more likely to try binge eating and anorexia nervosa within five years.
As someone who has struggled with binge eating disorder and body image issues, this week is very important to me because it is the opportunity to raise awareness about eating disorders, bust eating disorder myths and misconceptions, share stories, and help those struggling to access the help they need. Hopefully this week will shed some light on the truth about eating disorders.
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