Obsessions with extreme healthy eating, body shape/ weight, and excessive exercise have become so widespread they are now considered normal. Messages from the media, in our society that is obsessed with thinness and having the "perfect" body, only reinforce these. The average model or actress is thinner than 95% of our population, and our perceptions become even more distorted when we consider the rates of plastic surgery and photoshop.
Eating disorders have a high prevalence rate and are severe, complex and deadly. However, are also one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized issues in our society, making those who suffer isolated with shame. are severe and very prevalent among and but one that is largely misunderstood and surrounded with myths. Here are some truths:
* Eating disorders are not choices, but serious biologically-influenced mental illnesses
* Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible
* Many do not recognize the addictive nature of disordered eating until it has taken over
* They affect all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses
* Eating disorders are certainly not a quest for vanity or all about food
That last fact is very important. The myth of an eating disorder being a "diet-gone-too-far" is incredibly dangerous to those in recovery or trying to begin. It is simply not true, and issues with food is a symptom. When we focus on what someone is doing with food we fail to recognize the real issues causing the struggle. Disordered eating often serves as a distraction from problems that can seem overwhelming to deal with... until you actually deal with them.
Disordered eating distracts only temporarily from the emotional stress you are experiencing, it does not resolve it, but actually makes it worse. The stress inside increases and the disordered eating increases, while the real issues are never addressed. To recover from disordered eating we must go beyond the food and what is actually underlying your struggle.
Reaching out is the hardest and scariest step on the path to recovery.