Body-shaming others or self is a good motivator for weight loss

Myth: Body-shaming others or self is a good motivator for weight loss.

Truth: Body-shaming is destructive and never has positive sustainable outcomes. Fat-hating is no different than any other discriminating behavior or practice. It is inhumane and wrong. If you are naturally thin, recognize your thin privilege and support size diversity. Every person of size has a legitimate story. And weight loss is commonly not a good outcome for anyone.

Going on the pill “fixes” amenorrhea

Myth: Going on the pill “fixes” amenorrhea.

Truth: No!… going on the pill brings about a hormone-induced response from the body. It does not address the malnutrition which has caused the body to regress to a preadolescent state. People who are restricting to the point that they no longer have periods or regular periods, need to be nourished. Amenorrhea is the body’s way of saying, ”I cannot afford to be fertile – I am just trying to keep you alive.” If your doctor wants to address your restricting behavior and weight loss with a hormone intervention she/he does not understand eating disorders. Only weight restoration and nutrition rehabilitation can restore your body’s normal fertility development.

Bradycardia is just an athlete’s low and slow heart rate because they are so fit

Myth: Bradycardia is just an athlete’s low and slow heart rate because they are so fit.

Truth: Bradycardia in the context of an eating disorder is a starved heart. This fact is misunderstood by most doctors including cardiologists. If you are restricting, binging and purging, and over-exercising, bradycardia can bring about sudden death. Seek help from an eating disorder expert because you may need hospitalization.

Osteopenia and Osteoporosis are not dangerous

Myth: Osteopenia and Osteoporosis are not dangerous.

Truth: Osteopenia indicates that the bones are not developing properly and without intervention – meaning nourishment-can lead to osteoporosis. Adolescents whose bones indicate osteopenia need immediate intervention as this is the critical time bone mass is laid down. When this window closes at approximately 21 years old, the possibility of permanent and irreversible osteoporosis is high. Osteoporosis leads to a life-time of fertility problems, bone breakage, crippling, and other related health problems including death. Adolescents who are restricting and over-exercising should have a bone density scan (DEXA) to learn about their bone health.

Only white adolescent girls have eating disorders

Myth: Only white adolescent girls have eating disorders.

Truth: Eating disorders do not discriminate by race, color, gender, ethnicity, age, region, country, culture, or sexual orientation. Eating disorders are an equal opportunity disorder.

The only boys/men who get eating disorders are athletes

Myth: The only boys/men who get eating disorders are athletes.

Truth: Boys and Men of all ages, who are not athletes per se, do get eating disorders, but the stigma about eating disorders often keep them from reaching out for treatment. Bias about who does and whom does not get eating disorders marginalizes those who need treatment. Eating disorders can touch any human life.

Young children cannot get eating disorders

Myth: Young children cannot get eating disorders.

Truth: Younger and younger children are developing eating disorders and the need for well-trained clinicians to recognize and diagnose them is critical. A pediatric dietitian, experienced in eating disorders, is imperative. This is a specialty within a specialty.

Older women do not get eating disorders

Myth: Older women do not get eating disorders.

Truth: Recently, it has been reported that peri-menopausal and menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic being diagnosed with eating disorders. Although the exact reason is unknown,  it is thought that the cultural pressure to never gain weight, and lack of information about how bodies must and should change over time, including that higher weight as we get older is associated with longevity, and that the “estrogen belly” is protective for health, is not the cultural narrative. The belief that we must control our bodies and not trust them is ubiquitous.

Any medical professional or mental health professional can treat an eating disorder

Myth: Any medical professional or mental health professional can treat an eating disorder.

Truth: Very few professionals have training in the treatment of eating disorders and even fewer have specific training or continuing education on the medical complications of eating disorders. In the words of Dr. Mehler, author of The Treatment of Medical Complications in Eating Disorders, “you have to treat a lot of these people to understand them…volume = competent care.” The probability of competent treatment increases with clinicians who have made eating disorders their practice-focus. At NSNR, we recommend that you seek treatment from specialists. Mental health professionals should specialize in eating disorders and not have it listed on a long list of other issues they treat. Medical providers should be familiar with Dr. Mehler’s book, Eating Disorders: A Guide to Medical Care and Complications, or even better, attend the trainings at ACUTE: Center for Eating Disorders at Denver Health in Denver, Colorado.  Dietitians should have similar training as medical providers and stay in their scope. They should not try to be the mental health counselors and they should work only with the age groups they have experience in treating.

Eating disorders are genetic

Myth: Eating disorders are genetic.

Truth: Research suggests that genetics play some role, but other factors are involved. Like most disorders, it is likely an interaction between the person (genetic part) and the situation (the environmental part). Research and clinical experience suggests that the primary function of an eating disorder is emotion regulation.