Eating Disorder Myths


Mandel Center of Arizona pic
Mandel Center of Arizona

Alyssa Mandel holds a master of social work from Columbia University and is the founder of the Mandel Center of Arizona in Scottsdale. In her practice, she works in collaboration with psychiatrists, social workers, and nutritionists, to provide comprehensive treatment to clients. In addition to other issues, Alyssa Mandel is passionate about helping individuals overcome eating disorders.

A good deal of misinformation exists within the public consciousness about the causes and effects of eating disorders. Here are some of the most common myths and the reasons why they aren’t valid.

Myth: Eating disorders are only about food.
Truth: There are always underlying issues beyond food itself that cause a person to have an unhealthy relationship with their eating. Some use food as a means of comfort or escape from pain and trauma in their lives. Others have dysfunctional self-image issues that cause them to either starve themselves (anorexia) or binge and purge (bulimia) in the belief that they must attain a certain physical standard.

Myth: Eating disorders are a choice.
Truth: While some believe that a person can simply stop their unhealthy eating behaviors, the causes of disordered eating are deep-rooted, and sometimes out of a person’s ability to control without intervention via mental treatment and/or hospitalization. By the time a person transitions into a full-blown disorder, they have gotten to the point where the behavior is entrenched as the primary coping mechanism for dealing with intense or unwanted emotions.

Myth: Only women experience eating disorders.
Truth: While the majority of those with eating disorders are female, it is not an exclusive club. Approximately 10 percent of suffers are male. Depending on the type of disorder, those numbers can be higher. For example, when only examining binge eating disorder demographics, the number of males jumps to nearly 40 percent. Current data suggests that adolescent boys are also among those seeing the fastest rise in eating disorders.

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