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Debunking the myths of eating disorders
by TeenHelp February 3rd 2015, 10:06 PM

Debunking the myths of eating disorders
By Jenny (coolkid98)

There are a variety of misconceptions about eating disorders which can make it difficult for those with eating disorders to reach out and get help. This article will debunk some of the common myths about eating disorders. In clarifying common misconceptions, it hopes to promote greater understanding of what eating disorders are, and categorically are not.

Myth: Eating disorders aren't serious; they're a lifestyle choice.
Fact: People donít choose to develop an eating disorder, however eating disorders can emerge through a person' plan to become healthier. Their new diet and exercise can be influenced to become an unhealthy and potentially life-threatening illness. It is important to remember that with the right treatment, and support from friends and family, one can recover from an eating disorder.

Myth: An eating disorder is like dieting, therefore it is normal.
Fact: Although moderate changes in one's diet and exercise tend to be safe, extreme or unhealthy dieting can cause both mental and physical distress. Eating disorders are usually prevalent in those who have been dieting. Dieting is also linked with other health problems including depression and anxiety. Extreme dieting due to bad body image will affect one's self esteem, and it could cause the development of an eating disorder.

Myth: One can determine whether someone has an eating disorder just by physical appearance.
Fact: Many of those who suffer with eating disorders do not appear to be underweight. One therefore canít determine whether someone has an eating disorder just by looking at them as they may look as though they are a healthy weight.

Myth: Eating disorders are caused by supermodels or the airbrushed images produced by the media.
Fact: The majority of the population are exposed to the media and its content on a daily basis. Only a small number of these people actually develop eating disorders. The messages about size and beauty standards portrayed by the mass media can impact a personís body image, and can cause the person to feel pressure to look a certain way but it isn't the only cause of an eating disorder. Thinspo, which are images of very skinny women given out by the media, can cause individuals to develop eating disorders due to the fact that they don't have the "perfect body" that the media shows.

Myth: All eating disorders are the same thing as they are all about controlling food.
Fact: There are different types of eating disorders. Anorexia Nervosa, commonly known as anorexia, is when an individual attempts to keep their weight as low as they can. This causes them to restrict caloric intake or exercise excessively. Bulimia Nervosa, commonly bulimia, is when someone purges after binge eating in an attempt to eradicate any calories or nutrients before the body can absorb them. Binge eating is when an individual feels a need to overeat. People overeat by consuming a large amount of food in a small amount of time.

Myth: If a person doesn't fit the criteria for anorexia and bulimia, then they don't have an eating disorder.
Fact: If a person doesn't fit the criteria for the different types of eating disorders, then they suffer from EDNOS, or eating disorder not otherwise specified. A person can be diagnosed with EDNOS if they do not fit the criteria to be diagnosed with anorexia or bulimia. For example, if a person restricts food but isn't underweight then they may suffer from EDNOS. However, EDNOS should still be taken as seriously as any other eating disorder, and those who suffer from it are advised to seek help. EDNOS is considered one of the most dangerous eating disorders, due to the fact that it often goes undetected meaning that people don't receive help.

Myth: Only teenage girls suffer from eating disorders.
Fact: A person of any age, or gender can suffer from an eating disorder. However, some groups have a higher risk of developing an eating disorder, such as people who are experiencing high stress levels, or people with mental illnesses such as depression.

Myth: Eating disorders are just another way of seeking attention.
Fact: A person who suffers from an eating disorder isn't seeking attention. It is a serious mental illness so it is important to treat it as such. Those with eating disorders may attempt to hide or disguise their behaviour; they may also not recognise that there is anything wrong. If someone is struggling from an eating disorder, it is in their best interest to seek professional help as soon as possible.

If someone feels like they are suffering from an eating disorder, they should seek medical advice, and look at TeenHelp's eating disorder resources page for places to go to for specialist support.
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