9 Truths about Eating Disorders

It is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Eating Disorders are the most deadly of all mental health diagnoses, including those with Depression and Bipolar Disorder! Luckily, with proper treatment, you can achieve complete recovery from an eating disorder. Eating Disorders affect an increasing number of men and women, across every age group, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and race due to a variety of psychological, biological and sociocultural factors.

The Academy for Eating Disorders and Dr. Cynthia Bulik have shared nine important truths about eating disorders. These truths have been supported by science and it is hoped that this will assist in reducing the stereotypes that surround eating disorders.
Truth #1: Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.
Truth #2: Families are not to blame, and can be the patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.
Truth #3: An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning.
Truth #4: Eating disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.
Truth #5: Eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and
weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.
Truth #6: Eating disorders carry an increased risk for both suicide and medical complications.
Truth #7: Genes and environment play important roles in the development of eating disorders.
Truth #8: Genes alone do not predict who will develop eating disorders.
Truth #9: Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Early detection and intervention are important.

​It is common for disordered eating and body image concerns to persist for years. Seeking treatment as soon as you recognize there is a problem will increase the effectiveness of the success. Recovery is possible, though it often takes months or even years. Here are some common signs to look for which may indicate your eating habits or belief systems are unhealthy or putting you at risk for an eating disorder.

​Behavioral markers:

  • Skipping meals
  • Strict rules about what you eat
  • New ways of eating or trying out fad diets, even when they “healthy” (e.g., no sugar, vegetarianism/veganism)
  • Food rituals (e.g., excessive chewing, eating only particular foods or food groups)

Emotional markers:

  • Discomfort eating around others
  • Extreme concern about your weight, body size or shape
  • Significant time spent on thinking about food, weight, calories, dieting, etc.
  • Mood swings
  • Significant guilt or disgust related to eating

Physical markers:

  • Impaired immune system
  • Significant fluctuations in weight
  • Concentration problems
  • Feeling cold all of the time, or cold hands or feet
  • Dental problems (e.g., cavities, tooth sensitivity, enamel erosion, discoloration)
  • Dry skin and hair, or brittle nails
  • Swelling around the salivary glands
  • Fine hair on the body

If you are interested in taking a brief screening to assess your eating habits and beliefs about food, visit: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/screening-tool

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