Dealing the Assumptions and Judgments in Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are thought of as having to do with unhealthily skinny people. People who have deprived themselves of food, nutrients, and supplements in order to lose as much weight as possible, and keep it off. Anorexia and bulimia are two of the most commonly known eating disorders and often go along with each other, even to the point of people confusing one for the other. When we think of eating disorders, we think that it’s this idea of being skinnier and that the disorder itself is only aimed at helping that happen. That developing the disorder is what causes the intense weight loss to happen. Always. But that’s not the case. While most eating disorders are classified by patterns of behavior that are done in order to lose weight, not every eating disorder follows that same characteristic, and it’s important to differentiate between them. People just think eating disorders are for getting skinny, but that minimizes so much of what is really going on for someone who has one. 

Anorexia is a very common disorder amongst our population, and likely the most well-known. A person who is anorexic views themselves as overweight, even if they are incredibly underweight. They obsess over their calorie intake and what they eat, often restricting themselves from food. There are two types of anorexia: Restrictive Typer and Binge-Eating and Purging. A Restrictive Type will often diet in an extreme; this means minimal caloric intake, excessive exercise, or fasting. They do not let themselves have the sustenance they need. Binge-Eating and Purging, on the other hand, is someone who may eat a lot of food in a short period of time, and then go through activities to help purge their body of calories, such as exercise, vomiting, and laxatives. Anorexia deals with a person’s mindset, and is related to a distorted body image that the person has. They view themselves as overweight and unhealthy regardless of what they see or what they’re told. Their height, weight, and physical aspects can all be perfectly healthy, but they will always see themselves as needing to lose weight. 

Bulimia is very close to anorexia, and is likely the other most known disorder. A person with bulimia will often eat an excessive amount of food in a short period of time, often to the point of discomfort, and feel not able to control their eating. They will then engage in purging activities as well to make up for the calories they ate as well as for their comfort. A person with bulimia is terrified of gaining weight and will force their body to expel food in order to stop any weight from being gained. 

These last two disorders were centered around being skinnier, but recently, we have started to recognize that it’s not just about that. Binge-Eating Disorder has become an officially recognized eating disorder and is very common in our world. As with someone with bulimia or a subtype of anorexia, a person with this disorder will engage in eating large amounts of food in very small amounts of time. But unlike anorexia and bulimia, the person does not restrict their diet nor do they purge themselves of the calories after. However, feelings of regret and loss of control do persist. This disorder can lead to being overweight or obese, with an increase in collaboration being made between obesity and eating disorder sectors. It’s the opposite of what an average person would probably think of when they think of eating disorders. It leads to other unhealthy habits and choices that affect the person. 

As with many disorders and illnesses, there are a lot of less common or subtypes to bigger disorders that exist, and it can be difficult to keep them all straight. The definitions can be different by just the smallest degree, or not even refer to food at all. Pica is an eating disorder that deals with someone who has urges to eat non-food substances, like ice, dirt, chalk, and so forth. While they are not necessarily limiting their intake of food and calories, they are engaging in the consumption of potentially dangerous material that can lead to injury, sickness, or death. 

It’s a shame that most people would only assume that eating disorders are meant to help someone be skinnier. The most common ones very well may, but this casts a shadow over those who struggle with very different eating disorders entirely. Someone who is overweight or obese due to their binge eating is seen as gross when it can be linked to a sickness. They can’t necessarily be blamed for the way that they are, but they often are ridiculed because people believe that they are lesser. You should never be made to feel shame or guilt for something out of your control, and if we want to help spread awareness, the stigmas must be challenged and they must be brought down. People deserve to get the help they need, regardless of people actually knowing what they’re going through. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at TrueRecovery.com. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 and [email protected]