Myths About Eating Disorders

It is funny that I chose for this to be my blog topic today. This is something we talked about just last week at my inpatient program.

On the board, there was a thick, black line drawn straight down the middle. One side was labeled “facts” while the other “myths”.

We were doing a group activity coming up with myths and facts about eating disorders. The counselor split up our group of twenty into four groups of five.

Each group was given the task of coming up with two myths and two facts.

The counselor challenged us to avoid making our myths and facts almost exact opposites of each other. Luckily for me, my group went first so we had a much easier job than the remaining groups.

At the end of the activity, the board was covered from top to bottom with common misconceptions about eating disorders.

Unfortunately, I only wrote down a few, all of which I will share with you here.

There are only two eating disorders: anorexia and bulimia.
There are most definitely more than two types of eating disorders. To name a few: ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), OSFED (Otherwise Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder), binge eating disorder, diabulimia, and orthorexia. Now I’m not going to go into detail about each and every disorder but this is a great resource if you want to know more about the specifics of the disorders.

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You have to be a certain size to have an eating disorder.
Eating disorders have no size requirements. While a few disorders have diagnostic weight criteria, just because you are not in the specified weight category does not invalidate your disorder in any way. I have met people of all shapes and sizes all with a wide variety of diagnoses. When it comes to severity of the illness, most often than not body size does not play a factor. You can have a severe eating disorder at any size.

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We chose to have our disorders and it is due to what is shown in the media.
I most definitely did not chose to have my eating disorder and it is not caused by what I see in magazines. I would never in a million years chose to sit at the dinner table and sob at the thought of eating a piece broccoli. My eating disorder is not just some “diet” in an attempt to be thinner. It is present due to a multitude of causes: biological, environmental, and psychological. Sure, seeing pictures of emaciated women praising them for their discipline and physique is triggering. But it most definitely did not cause my eating disorder.

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They are a disease of white, overprivileged girls.
Similar to size, eating disorders do not discriminate against race, gender, sexuality, religion, or socioeconomic status. Anyone can suffer from an eating disorder regardless of their background. In the media, these disorders are typically presented on white, females which does a disservice to the message being sent. Again for the people in the back, EATING DISORDERS DO NOT DISCRIMINATE.

recovery.jpg
I bet you’ve seen this visual before.

Recovery is linear.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Almost never is recovery liner. It’s a five steps forward ten steps back kind of process. There are triumphs and there are setbacks. It’s usually never a straight slop to recovery. I can attest for this first hand. I was doing extremely well in recovery for nearly a month and a half before I relapsed and had to return to treatment. I’m doing much better now but my therapist points out every time that I see her that there will be bumps in the road. She reassures me that it’s okay to struggle, and it probably will happen. The recovery process doesn’t look like a perfect slope as much as we wish it could.

I could go on and on about all of the bullsh*t I have heard and read about eating disorders, but for the sake of time and my crappy memory, I decided to focus on some of the biggest misconceptions.

What do you think about these myths? Did I miss one that is important to you? Let me know in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like this one too!

-SHAYNA

8 thoughts

  1. Yes!!! When most people hear “eating disorder” they automatically assume bulimia or anorexia. I haven’t been either but I have the most unhealthy relationship with food and exercise out of anyone I know! I wish there were more resources for other disorders. There is an “outpatient” program 5 hours from where I live for only anorexia or bulimia. That seems to be my only options aside from seeing a counsellor/therapist.

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    1. I’m sorry you’re struggling to find resources. I think if you find the right therapist it can help immensely. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) skills have helped me a lot, I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried either. Have you tried looking for therapists who specialize in either of these types of therapy? If not, the internet is a great online resource.

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  2. I cannot agree more with all of this. Honestly, the “you do not have to be a certain size to have an eating disorder” resonates with me. I went from being classified as “overweight” to “normal weight” to “underweight” and back at “normal weight” but STILL struggled the entire time. I have friends and colleagues who are at every weight possible who suffer with an eating disorder. I think this myth limits people severely when it comes to receiving the help they need.

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