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Eating Disorder Myths: Debunking Common Misconceptions

Updated: Oct 27, 2023


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Eating disorders are a serious problem, but lots of people have wrong ideas about how they work and how to help. These mistaken beliefs can be harmful, especially for people who need support. Some folks with eating disorders might not seem like what you'd expect, and it can be tough for their friends and family to help. Follow My Counseling Concierge as we clear up myths and facts about eating disorders. By knowing the right facts, we can understand and be kind to those dealing with eating disorders.


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Myth #1: You can tell that someone has an eating disorder from their appearance.

There is a common misconception that individuals with an eating disorder must be extremely thin (for those who restrict/compensate for eating). Also, overweight (for those who tend to binge). In actuality, eating disorders do not have a particular appearance. People struggling with such disorders represent a multitude of body types. In addition to sizes, body mass indices, weights, and musculature. The obsessions and behaviors of an eating disorder signify an internal struggle that may or may not be visible in the person’s appearance.


It is crucial to understand that someone's physical appearance does not necessarily reflect their mental/emotional state. It also does not indicate the presence of an eating disorder. Many individuals suffering from these illnesses may appear completely healthy on the outside. While they're silently battling destructive thoughts and behaviors internally. Therefore, it is essential to look beyond external appearances when considering the possibility of an eating disorder. Whether that be in oneself or others.

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Myth #2: Eating disorders affect only White teenage females.

This is a common stereotype that has been perpetuated over time. However, eating disorders do not discriminate against any gender, race, ethnicity, or age. Also, disability status, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or gender identity. Any individual can struggle with an eating disorder.


Historical narratives and media representation have led to the association of eating disorders with young white females. Eating disorders can affect people from all backgrounds and identities. When we understand that, we can make sure that help and support are there for anyone who needs it, no matter who they are.


It is essential to challenge and debunk these stereotypes surrounding eating disorders. Let's provide accurate information and support for all individuals who may be struggling.


Our eating disorder therapists in Newport Beach, CA are here to help. We can share information to help you understand better and learn how to support your peers.


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Myth #3: Eating disorders are just a phase or a lifestyle choice.

One prevalent myth surrounding eating disorders is that they are merely temporary phases or lifestyle choices that individuals can easily snap out of if they choose to do so. However, this misconception disregards the complex nature of eating disorders as serious mental illnesses requiring professional help and support.


Eating disorders arise from a combination of genetic, environmental, psychological, and social factors. They are not something that individuals willingly choose or can turn on and off at will. Recovery from an eating disorder requires comprehensive treatment involving:

  • medical care

  • therapy

  • nutritional guidance

  • often medication

It takes time, effort, and ongoing support for an individual to overcome their struggles with an eating disorder.


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Myth #4: Only extremely underweight individuals need help for their eating disorder.

One harmful myth about eating disorders is that only people who appear extremely underweight need treatment. This misconception fails to acknowledge the full spectrum of eating disorders. Which includes not only restrictive behaviors but also binge-eating disorder (BED). As well as bulimia nervosa (BN), and other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED).


People with binge-eating disorder can maintain a "normal" weight. However, their relationship with food and the psychological distress they experience are as valid and deserving of support as those who appear underweight. It is essential to recognize that eating disorders manifest in various ways. It also affects individuals across different body sizes.


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Myth #5: Eating disorders can be easily cured by willpower alone.

Many people wrongly believe that those with eating disorders can just beat it by being determined and strong-willed. But that's too simple because these illnesses are actually really complex. They involve deep emotions, thoughts, and how the body works.


Getting better from an eating disorder needs help from experts, therapy, and people who care about you. It means dealing with both the physical and mental aspects. It's important to be kind and understanding when supporting someone in their recovery! Rather than expecting them to do it all on their own with willpower.


The Path to Healing and Support with Eating Disorder Therapy in Newport Beach, CA

Debunking myths surrounding eating disorders is crucial for promoting accurate information, empathy, and support for those affected. If you're looking to begin your journey toward healing, consider receiving our eating disorder treatment at our Newport Beach, CA practice!


Follow the Steps Below to Get Started:


​Other Mental Health Services Offered at My Counseling Concierge.


In addition to Eating Disorder Treatment, we offer various services to address your unique needs. These include Therapy for OCD and Therapy for anxiety. We look forward to guiding you through your journey of healing.


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