Whether you are struggling with an eating disorder, or you know someone who is, you need to know these facts. These disorders are often not at all what you think they are. It is not about appearance or food. It is not something that can easily be turned off.
1. An eating disorder is not about food. While food provides the focus and distraction of the disorder, it is only the surface issue. This focus on food provides a distraction from deeper emotional issues -- issues the person is not even aware they have. This person is struggling with emotional regulation. He or she does not recognize emotions well and does not cope with them appropriately.
2. Eating disorders are not about appearance. Body image, like food, provides a distraction from what is really going on inside. If a person is nervous about a test or a relationship (something out of a person's control), the body feels like a distraction that can be controlled and manipulated.
3. A person does not choose to have this problem. It is easy to feel like a person has gotten themselves into this mess and they can just decide to stop. This is not the case. The causes are both genetic and environmental in origin. The saying is "Genetics load the gun, and environment pulls the trigger". In any event, once a person is afflicted, they will need professional help to truly overcome the deep issues it brings.
4. This problem affects at least one in five women and at least one million men. Look around you. Think of the women in your life--you know someone who is dealing with these issues, whether you realize it or not. If you think someone is struggling, there is a good chance they are. Realize this, people with anorexia do eat (it is just not enough), and not all people with bulimia throw up (some overexercise, use laxatives, etc.). There are many other types of disorders besides these two. There are issues like compulsive overeating, binge eating , orthorexia (obsession with health and healthy eating). I have seen many people go unnoticed because their disorder wasn't obvious enough.
5. Eating disorders are the most fatal of all psychological disorders. People get lulled into complacency when they know someone who isn't too skinny. Be aware that the majority of people dealing with these disorders are not underweight. Some are above ideal body weight range. Those who struggle with purging can be at an even higher risk of cardiac death than many low weight anorexics. Regardless, suicide is a common cause of death in those who struggle with eating disorders. You must take it very seriously.
If you would like to learn more about eating disorders , use this infohub dedicated to detailed information on these struggles. It will help you better understand the behaviors and underlying issues of those afflicted. It also provides information on how to confront and support friends or family members you may suspect are dealing with this problem. The most important thing to remember is to act--whether it is you or someone you know who is struggling. Do not ignore this issue.