While many of us strive to get in shape and achieve that glorified thigh gap, there's a strong line between a healthy diet and lifestyle and developing an eating disorder.
Unfortunately, eating disorders such as binge eating, bulimia, exercise addiction, and anorexia have always been quite prevalent in the United States. With this prevalence comes ignorance. There are many stigmas associated with the disease (yes, eating disorders are diseases), and these stigmas generate popular myths. These are some of the common myths surrounding the illness that need to be debunked.
1. Eating disorders are just phases.
Eating disorders result from a psychological condition that affects over 30 million people in the country. People with eating disorders find themselves in a number of hospitals, having life-saving surgeries, and going through decades of therapy. Some may not survive the disease, as it has the greatest mortality rate of any mental illness in the world.
2. Eating disorders only affect women.
In reality, about fifteen percent of people suffering from eating disorders are male.
3. Eating disorders develop from a desire to be skinny.
People with eating disorders often develop an obsession with food and their bodies because of a deeper issue. Often perfectionism, loneliness, and pressure can cause people to take their suffering out on their bodies. By focusing on calories and carbs, people seek a way to distract themselves from their other issues.
4. When someone looks healthy again, it can be assumed that they've overcome the disorder.
People can obsessively binge-eat as a form of an eating disorder. Often times anorexic people will binge eat in an effort to appear healthier without actually letting go of the obsession with food and weight. Similarly, people who become obese from binge-eating can appear to be healthier after losing weight, when really they still struggle with a food obsession in some form such as becoming bulimic.
5. You can tell if someone has an eating disorder from their appearance.
People often think of disturbingly thin figures when picturing eating disorders. While some anorexic people do indeed become sickly thin, others appear perfectly healthy. About one percent of the population is anorexic while about five percent has a binge-eating disorder. People's bodies don't always match their minds.
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