Trick or Truth:
7 TRUE OR FALSE STATEMENTS ABOUT EATING DISORDERS
Eating disorders are highly misunderstood conditions that many individuals suffer from all across the world. The below 7 statements are either true or false. Learning about the true nature and expression of eating disorders is vital to helping a loved one who may be suffering.
1. PEOPLE WHO HAVE EATING DISORDERS CHOSE TO HAVE AN EATING DISORDER
False. Current research points to eating disorders being the result of a complex interworking of genetics and environmental stressors/ triggers. For whatever reason, many people believe that eating disorders are simply about choice and that people who suffer from them are looking for attention or desire to be sick. It is our opinion, and backed by many experts, that this is not the case at all, but rather, individuals suffering from eating disorders likely had a genetic predisposition and/or encountered various stressors in their life (e.g. internal or external pressure to exercise or diet - or other experiences).
2. YOU CAN TELL IF SOMEONE HAS AN EATING DISORDER BECAUSE THEY ARE UNDERWEIGHT
False. While many individuals suffering from eating disorders are under the weight that would be expected given their age and height, many people are at an appropriate weight or overweight. In fact, simply looking at weight can be misleading as medical issues may be very problematic without physically displaying themselves in weight change.
3. FULL RECOVERY FROM AN EATING DISORDER IS POSSIBLE
True. There are many examples of people who have written books and articles about their recovery from an eating disorder. Fully recovered. The eating disorder does not always have to be the "devil on your shoulder" just waiting for an opportunity to come back in your life. For many people, full recovery is achieved and they move on without any fear or negative body image. See Carolyn Costin's book called 8 Keys to Recovery From an Eating Disorder for more about this.
4. OF ALL PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS, ANOREXIA HAS THE HIGHEST MORTALITY RATE
True. Estimates are difficult to firmly grasp, but a rough estimate is that 10% of individuals who suffer from anorexia nervosa will die of the disorder or related medical issues. This is particularly significant because diagnosis often happens in early to mid adolescence and it is vitally important that family, friends, and loved ones help the person get help early.
5. EATING DISORDERS ARE ABOUT THE FOOD
Trick question - True and False. While it is false that eating disorders are simply about food, a large part of early treatment and fear based thinking is surrounding food. However, simply addressing the "food part" can result in incomplete treatment and helping the person in other areas of life like developing a sense of identity outside of the eating disorder, finding a sense of meaning and purpose in life, and connecting with others in productive ways can be vitally helpful in recovery.
6. PEOPLE WHO SUFFER FROM ANOREXIA NERVOSA DON'T LIKE FOOD
False. This is often assumed of individuals with anorexia because of their dietary restriction. However, when you look more in depth at it, you may find a person who is rather obsessed with food, but who is equally terrified of eating. Often times people suffering from anorexia fear that if they "give up a little control" and let themselves eat, they might not stop eating. Helping the person understand that it is ok and unpacking some of the fears related to the eating disorder can be helpful.
7. BULIMIA IS ABOUT VOMITING AFTER EATING
False. While many individuals suffering from bulimia will vomit after eating (or binge eating), there are many other ways that people will try and "compensate" for eating including overexercise, laxative use/ abuse, and diuretic abuse (and others). All of the above are highly dangerous behaviors that can result in serious medical problems or death.
Eating disorders are serious conditions that often require treatment from a mental health professionals as well as medical professionals. If you or a loved one suffers from an eating disorder, please seek help.
The purpose of this blog entry is to share eating disorder recovery related ideas and does not represent professional medical of psychological advice from Mike Thomas or Recovery Spark. For professional advice, please connect with the professional eating disorder specialist that you work with.
Photo credit: @thepacman82 on Instagram.