Eating Disorders: 4 Common Myths
Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder are mental health conditions that should be taken seriously. Typically, they begin with an obsession with weight, body shape, and/or food. Over time, they can lead to severe behavioral problems that negatively affect a person’s mental and physical health.
There are many myths that surround eating disorders that can cause confusion around this serious illness. Therefore, let’s set the facts straight on four common myths.
For more information, visit the eating disorders specialty page.
1. You Have to Be a Certain Size to Have an Eating Disorder
First, a common myth includes the belief that an individual must be a particular size to have this condition. However, this is not true.
One of the most common misconceptions of an eating disorder is that the person needs to be a certain size or be unable to do things in order for it to be a concern. Internal damage can be significant despite the person still being able to engage in activities or still being at what may be considered a ‘healthy’ weight. – Erin Peterson, Outpatient Therapist
In other words, the size of the individual does not matter. While some disorders such as anorexia nervosa can relate to a smaller appearance, there are other disorders such as bulimia nervosa in which an individual can have a “normal” or fluctuating weight.
Eating disorders affect people of all shapes and sizes. Despite their appearance, individuals can still struggle, especially with their mental health.
Related: How Does Abuse Affect Mental Health?
2. Only Women Experience Eating Disorders
While it’s true that eating disorders do affect women more than men, they still impact boys and men. The National Association for Males with Eating Disorders estimates that 25 to 40 percent of people with all eating disorders are males.
When people believe that these disorders only impact women, it negatively affects diagnoses for men with eating disorders. For instance, it can prevent proper diagnosis and accurate treatment.
Related: Men’s Mental Health
3. Eating Disorders are Only About Food
Eating disorders do typically revolve around food, weight, and calories. However, they stem from psychological, biological, and sociocultural aspects.
Overall, disordered eating displays the need for control through behaviors like bingeing, excessive exercising, or purging. It can be tempting for family members or friends to offer advice that revolves around the food such as, “you should eat more,” or “you should eat less.” In reality, they require complex treatment that may involve medical and therapeutic care. This can also include aspects such as medication and nutrition education.
4. You Can’t Recover From an Eating Disorder
The fact that you can’t recover from an eating disorder is another myth. Recovery is possible for many people. Having personalized treatment and a support system is crucial for a strong recovery plan. While it can sometimes take months or years, recovery is entirely possible.
Those diagnosed with an eating disorder are also prone to additional mental health conditions that should be addressed in treatment, such as:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Anxiety Disorders
- Substance Use Disorder
Related: 5 Common Myths About OCD
A Word From Nystrom & Associates
In conclusion, if you believe you or someone you love has an eating disorder, prompt treatment is best. Our providers are here to help you recover. Reach out to our scheduling coordinators online or call 1-844-NYSTROM to make an appointment.