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13 Things a Person with Eating Disorders Wants You to Know

“What is an eating disorder?” Asked yourself and people around you that question enough number of times? Researched enough to know the difference between anorexia and bulimia?

Although the internet might answer a lot of your questions, there are some things that people with eating disorders want all of us to know. The next time you come across someone suffering through one of these disorders, you might want to be prepared and understand what they are dealing with. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

  1. It’s not only about the body! Anorexia and bulimia are also accompanied with psychiatric conditions such as OCD, depression, and anxiety disorders. Something to keep in mind if you thought it was only physical.
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  1. “Why don’t you just try eating?” Sadly that’s not how eating disorders work. No matter what type of eating disorder a person is going through, you have to realize that it’s not a choice. Like every other disorder, you can’t just snap out of it instantly!
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  1. No, it doesn’t only affect women or just one particular age group! Guys suffer from these disorders too, with men being 5 to 15% percent of anorexia and bulimia patients and 35% of binge-eating disorder patients. And yes, even adults go through them as well.
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  1. It’s an addiction. Just like people get addicted to alcohol or drugs, same goes for people with eating disorders. Therefore, it’s not something you can get over in a day or two!
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  1. How can you help them? They might not know, but they definitely do need your constant help. Remember to be patient when someone is undergoing treatment for eating disorders. Please.
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  1. They don’t want to be beautiful. They just want to look less like themselves. While people might try to assure them otherwise, their disorder does not allow them to think about themselves in a positive manner.
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  1. You can’t congratulate them for eating a full meal. It’s not making them feel any better. The key is to be there with them, whether they are eating or not. And if they do eat in front of you, know that they trust you enough to be able to do.
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  1. They might get defensive while talking about their eating disorders; some might even stay in denial. Yes, their emotions will fly everywhere, and that’s one of the toughest parts they have to deal with.
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  1. It’s not about the food. It’s not about being skinny or fat. It’s about being in control. Since they also deal with anxiety, they look to control aspects of their life, with food being one of the major ones. This is how anorexia nervosa or a compulsive eating disorder sets in.
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  1. Their perception about their body might be different than the one you have about them. They look at themselves in the mirror very differently than the rest of us. This is known as body dysmorphic disorder, which makes people perceive exaggerated or imagined flaws in their physical appearance.
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  1. Not a glamorous disorder. Eating disorders in real life don’t look anything like they show in movies or TV shows. They are way more serious than that. Contrary to what media portrays, it’s not just skinny girls smoking cigarettes and refusing food.
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  1. No, they aren’t diets. They are mental disorders. There’s a difference. Their relationship with food is complicated and they don’t want you to compliment them on how good they are at controlling their diet.
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  1. Most of important of all: yes, they can recover from these disorders. Eating disorder treatment is possible if the patient is ready to go through it and has the right kind of support. From psychological counselling to art therapy, there are several treatment options for eating disorders.
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Want to know more about such issues? Read about OCD here!