By: Jessica Johns-Green, LPC
Eating disorders are widespread. They are estimated to affect 30 Million Americans within their lifetime and roughly 900,000 Texas residents, according to Sage Recovery & Wellness.
As Common as Eating Disorders Are, They Can Seem Difficult to Understand
Even those suffering from eating disorders can feel confused about how to view their difficulties. To further complicate matters, things that happen in our brains when we ignore our nutritional needs make it extremely difficult to see reality and the dangers eating disorders present. Genetics and personal differences play a role, as well. The human body has evolved ingenious ways to survive, even under dire starvation conditions. These survival abilities kick in to keep us alive but can make seeing the damage of an eating disorder difficult. When subjected to starvation, some bodies will show symptoms immediately; others will not. But that doesn’t mean that damage to internal organs, vital systems, and bone integrity is not happening. In all eating disorders, returning to standard eating patterns is essential for recovery, usually with the support of a doctor, dietitian, or a therapist experienced in eating disorders.
5 Misconceptions About Eating Disorders:
1. You Can Tell if Someone Has an Eating Disorder By How They Look
We may believe that severe eating disorders look one way – thin, skeletal, sick. Many people struggle for a long time because most people around them, including well-meaning medical practitioners who do not specialize in eating disorders, don’t recognize the dangers. Any period of restrictive calorie intake will send the body into a conservation mode where the body will ‘steal’ nutrients from bones, cells, and muscles. In conservation mode, the brain lacks the glucose it needs to think clearly. But for some, this conservation mode will look like rapid weight loss. For others, they may hover at decreased weight but seem ‘normal.’ Our bodies can hold onto weight and not seem to lose much. Professionals with experience with eating disorders know the often missed signs and symptoms.
2. Only Extremely Underweight People Need Treatment
While lower body weight individuals may face more significant risks, anyone restricting calories, purging, or eating erratically is a valid candidate for treatment. While some will require more intensive treatment settings, all these eating-disordered behaviors are taking a dangerous toll on the body. Mental health and relationships will also suffer. The sooner an eating disorder is addressed, the better.
3. Complementing Appearance Will Help Someone to ‘Get Over’ the Eating Disorder
Despite good intentions behind most compliments, people struggling with eating disorders don’t need them and usually don’t enjoy them. Telling someone they” ‘look better or healthier” can trigger worries over how much focus others place on physical appearance. This worry can drive the individual to be more concerned with appearance and manage by controlling their body and food intake. Additionally, many people with eating disorders describe incidents early in their condition when someone complimented weight loss (“You’ve lost weight”), spurring them further into a disordered eating pattern.
4. If You Have a Regular Period/Menstrual Cycle, Your Eating Disorder is Not Severe
As mentioned above, bodies will deal with the effects of starvation in different ways. Some people will lose their period soon after starting a restrictive diet. Others can keep having a cycle even at dangerously low body weights. Birth control pills are also a consideration as these can make the body bleed monthly, but that does not mean the body is healthy. Some people are even prescribed birth control pills by doctors trying to restart a lost period. Although there may be a monthly bleed, this is not a result of hormonal balance and is not a solution. The body has stopped menstruating to conserve valuable energy. The body is wise enough to sense that this time of starvation is not the best to raise a child. Restoring nutrition is the only way to bring the hormonal and reproductive system back online.
5. If My Doctor Says My Blood Work is Fine, My Eating Disorder is Not That Bad
A standard blood workup at your usual general practitioner can provide a false sense of security unless your doctor has eating disorder expertise. Doctors will not look for some things and may misinterpret other symptoms unless the physician knows how starvation and purging can show up in tests. One damaging effect of eating disorders that are often not checked and can be irreversible is the damage to bones. The body ‘steals’ nutrients from the bones and halts any repair to bone cells to conserve energy. Yet, many people, particularly boys and men with eating disorders, are routinely not screened and sent away from their doctor with the belief that they are fine.
Reach Out For Help
Eating disorders can be dangerous and potentially deadly. So, if you identify with any of these, reach out for help. It can feel overwhelming to begin to focus on the problem, and finding solutions can feel impossible; however, you are not alone in the journey. If you need help, talk to a supportive friend or doctor, or find a therapist. Therapy offers a place to deal with the emotional issues that drive these problems. Working with a therapist can help you find confidence in your ability to cope and have a healthy relationship with food. At the Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch, we are here to help. You deserve to feel empowered, not helpless.
Eating Disorder Therapy in Katy, TX!
If you are ready to take control of your eating disorder, the therapists at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch can help!
To begin counseling in Katy, TX follow these three steps:
- Contact our office to set up an appointment or to learn more about eating disorder therapy.
- Meet with one of our eating disorder therapists.
- Uncover ways to understand your body and nutritional needs.
Other Therapy Services We Offer:
Here at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch, we offer counseling services for people of all ages in areas including counseling for kids, counseling for young adults, teen counseling, couples counseling, eating disorder treatment, men’s issues, women’s issues, anxiety treatment, depression therapy, trauma counseling, family therapy, and group counseling. Our therapists strive to post blogs regularly. We provide helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. To learn more about our therapists and counseling services, please reach out to the Counseling Center today!