Six Myths About Eating Disorders - Meredith Thomas

Myth 1: My child doesn’t look like he/she has an eating disorder and therefore doesn’t.

Truth: Those seeking treatment for an eating disorder present at varying sizes and shapes. In fact, many individuals appear to be a healthy weight, but are utilizing ineffective and dangerous behaviors to maintain this.

Myth 2: My loved one just has to eat and the disorder will go away.

Truth: Eating disorder recovery does not happen overnight. While normalizing eating is a crucial step in the process, it is only part of the bigger picture. Many areas of life must be addressed in order for successful recovery to take place.

Myth 3: I caused my loved one’s eating disorder.

Truth: While environmental factors and interpersonal relationships can influence individuals susceptible to eating disorders, no one person is solely responsible for the development of the disorder. Eating disorders are complex disorders that develop for a number of reasons and have been found to be linked to a genetic predisposition. Control, perfectionism, anxiety, relationships, past abuse or trauma, society and more can contribute to eating disorders.

Myth 4: If I push my loved one, they will eventually break and start eating again.

Truth: Pushing a loved one to eat before he or she is ready can backfire. It can actually create more of a desire for your loved one to maintain control of their behaviors as he or she may perceive your help as you trying to take the disorder away.

Myth 5: My loved one is the only one who needs therapy for the eating disorder.

Truth: Your loved one may be the primary focus in treatment, but family support and integration is necessary. Spending time processing family structure, individual roles and responsibilities, patterns and themes, can increase the likelihood of a successful recovery.

Myth 6: Eating disorders are a cry for attention.

Truth: A component of an already developed eating disorder can be attention-seeking behavior; however, eating disorders rarely start as a cry for attention. In fact, those with eating disorders frequently hide behaviors in an attempt to avoid being judged or forced into treatment. Once others are aware, a person may deny the disorder for fear it will be “taken away.” Comments that come with weight loss or dietary changes can increase the likelihood that an individual will continue to use the disorder because such comments can equate to “I’m doing this right.”

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