The Real Problem With Eating Disorders -- And It's Not Those Who Have Them
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Health and Wellness

The Real Problem With Eating Disorders -- And It's Not Those Who Have Them

Everything your high school health class didn't teach you.

The Real Problem With Eating Disorders -- And It's Not Those Who Have Them

Recently, I have noticed a problem.

The problem isn't with being obese or being too thin.

The problem is that people think they understand what it is like to have an eating disorder when they actual don't know anything about it.

First, I would like to make something perfectly clear.

Having an eating disorder is not a choice.

I can not stress this enough. No one has an eating disorder because of something they saw in a magazine, or on TV. The thin, often photoshopped women in pictures are not the cause of an eating disorder.

Struggling with an eating disorder is not choosing to die.

Yes, many people die from eating disorders; in fact more people die from them than any other mental illness. However, having an eating disorder is not a CHOICE to die. I recently read an article that implied that having an eating disorder means you choose death. Never for a second during the darkest days of my eating disorder did I want to die. Why would I want that? I have an incredibly beautiful life filled with people who love me and I have so much joy in my heart. But none of those positives kept me from developing an eating disorder. Yes, I wanted to be thin, yes I skipped meals and my health diminished, but I never chose to die.

An eating disorder is a mental illness.

It is not something you can prevent someone from getting. There's no vaccine for eating disorders. Someone who looks at pictures of thin models everyday is not more likely to have an eating disorder than someone else who doesn't . And guess what? Not every thin model has an eating disorder either.

There is a difference between triggers of eating disordered behaviors and what actually causes the eating disorder.

Like I mentioned early, seeing a thin model doesn't cause you to have an eating disorder. In fact, neither does the size pants you wear. Eating disorders have different root causes, but most involve some manifestation of anxiety. I learned this when recovering from my eating disorder. I 100% did not care about what others looked like, or what I looked like, but I had incredible, painstaking anxiety about eating and what that could do to my body. Sounds messed up right? Well it is, because it's a mental illness, and not a lot of people understand them unless they have experienced them or they are educated about them.

Eating disorders do not just make you thin.

When people think of eating disorders, what most commonly pops into mind is a thin girl struggling with anorexia. This is not the only eating disorder. Other eating disorders like binge eating and bulimia do not always make a person thin. Eating disorders can make you overweight, underweight, or you can look perfectly normal.

You don't have to look like you have an eating disorder to be struggling with one. I struggle with an eating disorder, and when I went to treatment there were men, and women of all different sizes there struggling with these crippling diseases.

Eating disorders do not only impact women.

Yes, more women than men have diagnosed eating disorders, but that might only be because it is more shameful for a man to speak up about an eating disorder than it is for a woman. It is so easy to focus on how society makes women feel about their bodies and how there are so many unrealistic expectations about body image. However, men are presented with these same unrealistic expectations.

When recovering from my eating disorder I learned a lot about myself, and above all I learned that although I need to take responsibility for my eating disorder and how it destroyed my body. More importantly though I needed to realize that my eating disorder wasn't apart of me. My eating disorder has nothing to do with who I really am.

I am not an eating disorder, no matter what size I am. No one should have to struggle with this terrible disease, but the reality is a lot of people do. In order to help someone struggling, it is essential to understand the various reasons eating disorders develop. Yes, we have a huge societal body image problem, but it's not what is entirely causing eating disorders.

There is a bigger problem.

The problem is how little people actually know about eating disorders.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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