The Most Common Misconceptions About Eating Disorders


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Most people have preconceived ideas about what an eating disorder may look like. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions that cause people suffering from eating disorders to question whether they need treatment, which causes a delay in getting help. In this article, we will be walking through some of the most common myths about eating disorders.

Eating disorders have a certain “look.”

There are people with all body sizes who have life-threatening eating disorders. While the media typically only shows people in small bodies suffering from an eating disorder, this is not true. People in all body types suffer from anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.

Only teenage girls develop eating disorders.

For many people, their struggle with an eating disorder may begin later in life. For others, their battle may begin at a younger age and continue into adulthood. It’s not uncommon for someone to develop disordered eating behaviors at a young age and continue to struggle into adulthood. These individuals still have a valid disorder, are not outside of the norm, and have treatment options.

This struggle is also not limited to women. Studies estimate that men make up about 25% of all anorexia and bulimia diagnoses and 36% of all binge eating disorder diagnoses.1 The fact is that eating disorders affect people of all ages and genders.

Eating disorders are a choice.

Eating disorders are not a choice, but rather complex medical and psychological conditions. We don’t know for sure why some people develop eating disorders while others don’t, but research indicates that some factors increase someone’s risk, such as:

  • Genetics
  • History of mental health disorders or trauma
  • Some personality traits, such as perfectionism or “black and white” thinking
  • Body image issues
  • Weight stigma 2

I’m not sick enough to have a serious, life-threatening eating disorder.

Many people believe that they are not sick enough to deserve treatment. Whether this is related to not feeling like you are “good enough” at your eating disorder or not the “right size” to have a serious problem.

Even eating disorders that don’t quite meet diagnostic criteria can result in the same life-threatening consequences as anorexia or bulimia. In fact, some research suggests that these people may be at higher risk.3

If you are even considering treatment, you are sick enough. Because honestly, people don’t consider eating disorder treatment when they truly feel okay with their relationship with food.

Weight gain is the only goal of recovery.

For many people, weight restoration is a necessary part of recovery. However, this is not the only goal. There are many other goals of recovery that are focused on your physical health, quality of life, and overall well-being. Some of these goals may include:

  • Decreased anxiety around food
  • Increased flexibility around food, such as eating an unplanned snack or adapting to a sudden change in lunch plans
  • Eating a variety of foods
  • Having regular meals and snacks
  • Ability to engage in movement without the goal of changing your appearance or burning calories
  • Decreased focus on your weight, size, and appearance

If any of these facts about eating disorders resonate with you, please reach out to us to learn more about treatment options. You deserve to have access to recovery resources regardless of how your eating disorder “looks,” and our team would be honored to walk alongside you in your journey to recovery. Give us a call at 765.819.2524 or fill out our contact form to get started.






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