Eating Disorders are increasingly gaining attention in the media and we don’t have to look far to ‘know someone, who knows someone,’ even if our own lives have not been directly affected. There are many myths about eating disorders, including that they occur only in ‘young, White Women’ or ‘never in Men’ and ‘Everyone with an eating disorder is noticeably skinny.’ All of these myths are false.
Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge-Eating Disorder are problems that take over people’s lives. An excessive focus on what is eaten or not eaten, how much exercise is done each day, the secrecy and ritual of compulsive overeating, the shame and guilt attached to holding onto a secret; these are the constant companions of people struggling with “Disordered Eating,” a term used to address the variety of ways that we can be affected by these challenges.
The media has been blamed for much of the current fixation of ‘unhealthy’ images that are portrayed in movies, magazines, fashion shows, on television, and in many other settings. The unreasonable expectations of what women and men who make their living ‘in front of the camera’ must look like and the ‘culture of beauty’ have encouraged thousands of people (mostly women, but more and more men) to attempt to alter how they look, in order to gain approval and acceptance by others.
There are no universal causes for Disordered Eating and no ‘sure-fire’ cures that work for everyone. What is true is that we don’t need to suffer in silence and isolation any longer. There is counselling available to help ease the pain of these problems, through a process of increased knowledge, skill building, healing, and personal growth. Our counsellors can assist clients and their families to address the beginnings of eating problems, current effects on their lives, and build hope for the future.
If you are concerned about your own relationship with food, a loved one who seems to be preoccupied with what they eat, when, and how, or interested in learning about how to ensure that your sons and daughters develop healthy ways of interacting with the world of culture and body image, counselling can be helpful. Many family doctors will brush aside problems related to food and eating with suggestions that ‘she will grow out of it’ or ‘don’t worry about it, everything is fine.’ The truth is that most doctors do not know enough about Eating Disorders to know when help is needed. If you think there is a problem, even if your doctor doesn’t agree, reach out and ask for help.
Here are some links that may be interesting and helpful in your quest for understanding and wellness.