Our team of Registered Dietitians care about raising awareness about commons myths about eating disorder recovery and providing effective and evidence-based care for our patients. In our work, we often come up against common misconceptions about eating disorders that contribute to harmful stigma and inhibit diagnosis and intervention. In this post, we're going through five myths about eating disorder recovery and providing the facts. If learning more about eating disorders and how to navigate recovery is of interest to you - check out our NourishRX Eating Disorder PATH to learn more.
5 Common Myths About Eating Disorder Recovery
Myth: Eating Disorders aren’t serious
Truth: Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses, with clear diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Eating disorders are common. They do not discriminate and affect people of all genders, ages, body sizes, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses. Eating disorders are associated with serious medical and psychological consequences and are the second most deadly mental illness. Young people between 15 and 24 years old with anorexia nervosa are 10 times more at risk of dying compared to their peers. Eating disorders are serious and appropriate, effective treatment is very important to achieving full recovery.
Myth: Eating Disorders are a choice
Truth: Eating disorders are a mental illness. Research shows that there are biological, psychological, and social factors that influence the development of an eating disorder. Eating disorders frequently co-occur with other mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorders. An individual does not choose to have an eating disorder (ED) and the development of eating disorders are nuanced and multi-faceted.
Myth: Eating Disorders are only about food
Truth: Obsession with food, calories, weight and shape are certainly characteristics of many eating disorders, but there is so much more. Eating disorders often coexist with trauma, low self worth, perfectionism, personality disorders or an attempt to have control over something in life. It is not helpful to tell someone with an ED to “Just eat more” when in truth, effective treatment often involves a combination of dietary, medical, therapeutic and psychiatric intervention.
Myth: You can tell if someone has an eating disorder by looking at them
Truth: Most people with eating disorders are not clinically underweight. When diagnosing an eating disorder and prescribing treatment, it is important that a person’s medical and psychological symptoms and their dieting history are all taken into account. The stereotype that eating disorders only affect thin, white females leads to delayed diagnosis and inadequate care and can also lead individuals suffering to believe they are not “sick enough” to deserve treatment.
interested in working with NourishRX?
At NourishRX, we understand that finding the appropriate treatment for eating disorder recovery can be overwhelming. We are here to provide the right support, nutrition education, and guidance you need to reach your goals. If you're concerned about how to take a step forward with your eating disorder recovery, please don't hesitate to reach out. We offer virtual nutrition counseling for those in Massachusetts and beyond. If you're interested in working with us: