Myth No. 1 – Eating disorders are a female issue. FALSE. Eating disorders can occur in men and women, boys and girls. Adult men account for 1 in 4 cases of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, while for binge eating disorder it is 1 in every 3 cases.
Myth No. 2 – Eating disorders are a teenage issue. FALSE. An eating disorder can occur at any age from under 10 to over 70. The average age of onset is 15-24, and when you think about the life changes that happen during these years you can understand why this might be the average age of onset. But, at any age, for some reason, some people turn to controlling their body and food intake as a way of coping.
Myth No. 3 – An eating disorder is a faddy diet. FALSE. An eating disorder is not a type of diet that somebody uses to lose weight. An eating disorder is a serious mental illness that has increased risk of mortality. It is a mistake to think that eating disorders are only about food and weight. They are about the person’s sense of themselves, their self-esteem and self-worth.
Myth No. 4 – An eating disorder is a lifestyle choice. FALSE. A person does not ‘choose’ to have an eating disorder, and certainly living with an eating disorder is not about emanating a certain type of lifestyle. A person becomes trapped in an eating disorder, and in a similar way to an addiction, feels compelled to continue engaging in the disordered eating behaviour in order to feel safe and secure. This compulsion replaces the conscious choice a person has, and they need help and support to be able to choose a different way of coping and living.
Myth No. 5 – An eating disorder is a phase. FALSE. An eating disorder is not just a phase, it is not something that a person ‘will grow out of’. It is much more serious than that and should be taken as such by all medical and treatment practitioners involved.
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