Myth Busters: The Truth About Eating Disorders

A very important issue to tackle on college campuses around the country is the issue of eating disorders. There are a lot of unanswered questions and the mysteries that surround eating disorders may make it hard to acknowledge a problem developing in a friend or a fellow student. An estimated 64 percent of college women have been found to exhibit some form of an eating disorder and because of some habits that may go under the radar many cases are going untreated.

When students were asked what an eating disorder consisted of there were a few myths that came up over and over again. One of the biggest myths people have about eating disorders is that only women get them. Although a large percentage of eating disorder cases is found in women, there are many cases of male anorexia and bulimia, compulsive eating, and others. Because eating disorders is something more related to females, many males go untreated since there is a myth though by many that males just weren't affected by eating disorders. When asked around the SMC campus, many students responses echoed the response of student Rachel Darby. "I have just never met any guy who's suffered from anorexia... It's always found in girls. You walk around and see super skinny girls everywhere," said Darby. This overwhelming consensus isn't just found on campus, but in many television shows and advertisements focused on overcoming eating disorders such as anorexia focus on the female form.

Another myth that exists is that there are only three forms of eating disorders. Majority of people only feel that eating disorders only affect people in the form of anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive eating. In reality there is a wide array of eating disorders that exist including over exercise, night eating, and orthorexia, which is a disorder where a person has a fixation on eating the proper foods to stay healthy. Orthorexia eventually takes over a person's daily habits and much of their thought is consumed with their eating habits. Much like an anorexic, a person with orthorexia spends their time thinking about food, and perfecting what they eat. Many people don't view this habit as an eating disorder, but in a victim's life this obsession with eating the proper foods makes it almost impossible to live a regular life, or eat without spending so much time thinking about the benefits of what is being eaten and the benefits of how it's being eaten.

Many times an eating disorder is believed to be the cause for a person becoming very thin. Many times bulimia is believed to be a way to attain a certain weight, but in reality many bulimics tend to be slightly heavy. According to psychotherapist Rachel Spencer MFT the weight of a bulimic is actually higher because of the amount of calories taken in by the initial chewing. "When you chew your food and swallow it you absorb calories right away. A bulimic will binge on a high amount of calories and by the time they're done they have absorbed a large amount of calories. They throw up the actual food, but the calories have already been absorbed," said Spencer.

One of the biggest misconceptions about eating disorders in general is that an eating disorder is brought on by an urge to lose weight or attain a thinner body type. This is a myth many people believe in, "The myth is, while a lot of eating disorders are about fully or partially weight issues, but on the deeper level it's about gaining control," said Spencer, "In trauma there's lack of control in a situation, and with eating disorders a person can control what comes in and out of the body." Therapy is one of the ways many victims of eating disorders are able to get help because a lot of issues are mental and work with a therapist is a way for a person to work through the issues and reasons behind the development of an eating disorder.

The best way to move away from these myths related to eating disorders is through better education on the issues. Ultimately the concern is about better care health-wise for a person mentally and physically. Another myth that exists about eating disorders is it's an ailment that will never be fully overcome, but the good news is that this is just a myth. With the proper treatment a person with an eating disorder can fully recover.