What do you know about Eating Disorders?
By: Abby Emmert & Gabrielle Morreale
I want to challenge you with this question. What DO you know about eating disorders? Is it what you know from movies you have seen about the emaciated teen girl? Is it from your best friend’s little sister who got sent away that one summer? The diet culture ads glamorizing it? Or is it more than that?
One problem with eating disorders is that they have been displayed a certain way, with a certain look, and specific characteristics that make it only identifiable in few and ignoring so many others. There are many types of eating disorders, but the three most common are binge-eating disorder, anorexia, and bulimia. They are complex, they are deadly, and they do not discriminate in who they affect. Also they are scary for so many reasons, one being there is no specific cause for them- or else, trust me, we would have done something about them by now. Another sad truth about Eds is that there is not one specific cure. That said though recovery is possible and so worth it.
You can find some more information about the specific types of disorders below, but here is where we want to discuss a common misconception about what people think they know about eating disorders: what they look like.
Like I said before, they don't discriminate. Eating disorders come in all sizes. People in large, medium, and small bodies can all be affected. They come in muscular, lean, full, and curvy and yes thin bodies. They affect all genders and sexual orientations, races and religions. They look like exercising an extra hour to work off your dinner, sitting out of a meal with friends because you couldn't find anything you were allowed to eat on the menu, and skipping the office party because you hate that you can't control yourself at a buffet. They look like sadness and deprivation, defeat and broken promises, starvation and filling voids you haven't been able to grieve.
They look like having to decide between shoving your feelings down or exploding with them. They look like having to decide between having a healthy relationship with food or being happy with how you look/ feel.
We have been taught to think losing weight is good, that gaining weight is bad, that limiting food is self control, and eating too much is weak.
Diet culture tells us that small bodies are “good”, large bodies are “bad”. Those in larger bodies can’t possibly have anorexia, so they can't have an eating disorder. That those in smaller bodies just have self control and a good diet, but that's not an eating disorder. We have been taught that those that have eating disorders “look sick”.
This “image” and messaging tells those that are struggling that they aren't. It tells those that need help that others need it more than them, and it tells anyone that falls into the disordered eating trap that what they are doing is normal.
We must start to change this cycle by learning more about what it looks like, how it affects those around us, and reaching out a hand to let others know we are here to help! That's exactly what we do here at Gabrielle Morreale, LPC!
For more information on Anorexia, check out:
For more information on Bulimia, check out:
For more information on Binge-Eating Disorder, check out: