Thursday, July 11, 2013

Eating Disorder Myths

I know, this is not something I usually talk about BUT this month I am doing my "Professionally Supervised Independent Study" at an eating disorder facility. As a nutrition major, we have to complete an independent study and I am doing it at Shoreline Center for Eating Disorder Treatment. I have been here for two weeks and will continue learning for three more. So far, I am having a blast and am learning SO much!!! I am shadowing the dietitian at Shoreline, Tina, and she is teaching me more than I expected. She is beyond amazing.
My first assignment was to prepare a presentation on eating disorder myths. I figured since I haven't written in a while, this could be a nice way to keep up with the things I'm doing here.

I chose 5 myths:

Myth #1: Eating disorders are a lifestyle choice; someone can choose to stop having an eating disorder.
Reality: An eating disorder is an illness. To heal, one needs treatment and support. Healing comes with learning and practicing a healthier lifestyle. Eating disorder don't develop over night, they won't go away over night.

Myth #2: Purging = weight loss.
Reality: Purging does NOT rid the body of ingested food. It can actually lead to weight gain due to a slowed metabolism. Vomiting typically leaves 1/2 of what is consumed in the stomach and laxatives only create the illusion of weight loss. This illusion comes from the fluid that is lost. Dehydration is a major danger with purging and can be life-threatening.

Myth #3: You can't exercise too much.
Reality: Without enough calories consumed, excessive exercise can hurt the body. It can lead to dehydration, fatigue, shin splints, cartilage damage, stress fractures, osteoporosis, amenorrhea, heart problems, and arthritis. Your body can only be pushed so far. Without proper fuel you cannot safely exercise. Also, your body needs rest and time to recover before exercising again.
Myth #4: A low calorie diet + a strong commitment = a thin and beautiful body.
Reality: Food deprivation leads to a slower metabolism. This is the body trying to conserve the little energy being put into it. Your healthy weight and shape is inherited from your parents. Being at a healthy level requires a balance of food and exercise. Not everybody is meant to be a a tall bony model, we are all different and have different needs.

Myth #5: Achieving a normal weight means the eating disorder is cured.
Reality: Recovery is achieved when one can live a life free from the eating disorder. Reaching a healthy weight can happen quickly, mental recovery takes more time.
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