Individuals suffering from eating disorders often hide their struggle from those around them for a variety of reasons, including shame, lack of information, or fear. Eating disorders want individuals to suffer in secret because then the individual can stay sick longer—safe from the intervention of others. Don’t listen to your eating disorder. And don’t suffer in silence. Reach out for support as soon as you start to recognize symptoms—getting an eating disorder treated early and effectively has been shown to result in higher success rates.
In the United States alone, 30 million individuals will struggle with an eating disorder in their lifetime, about 10 million of those people being men. Among teens, eating disorders are the third most common illness and are far more prevalent than breast cancer or HIV. While you may feel like you are the only one struggling with disordered eating, it’s important to know that many people have shared your experience and gone on to achieve full recovery.
No one chooses to have an eating disorder, much like no one chooses to get sick. Eating disorders are brain-based, biological illnesses that are affected by environmental, genetic, socioeconomic, and social forces (and much more!). Having an eating disorder does not mean that an individual has made the choice to be sick, has behavior problems, or has a lack of willpower. Having an eating disorder simply means an individual is sick and in need of proper treatment. Much like there is no shame in getting a physical illness, there is no shame in having an eating disorder.
Unfortunately, many boys are raised under the impression that they should not be affected by mental health disorders, especially eating disorders. However, this idea is false. As many as 10 million men in the United States suffer from an eating disorder. Eating disorders in men are just as severe and worthy of treatment as eating disorders in women. While many boys and men may feel ostracized by the eating disorder community, as the stereotypical individual with an eating disorder is a thin woman, we hope boys and men know that they are also at risk for eating disorders and that treatment exists.
From marketing campaigns promoting body acceptance to celebrities such as Demi Lovato and Jessie Diggins opening up about their experience with eating disorders, talking about eating disorders is becoming destigmatized. With more individuals sharing their stories, we are starting to see just how common eating disorders are and how there is no place for shame in recovery. While speaking publicly about eating disorders may be healing for the individual affected, it can also show others listening that recovery is possible.
We understand finding support and eating disorder treatment is not always easy, but it is worthwhile. By recognizing disordered eating and seeking support, individuals can start the process of healing and working through the negative emotions they may have surrounding food and body image. We hope individuals know that eating disorders thrive in secret and that shame can intensify the disorder. In order to find full recovery, individuals must work through their shame and fight for healing.
If you or someone you love is struggling with disordered eating, we want you to know that you don’t have to live with your eating disorder forever. Eating disorders, with proper treatment, can go away. At The Emily Program, we welcome all individuals and walk alongside them during their recovery. If you are interested in learning more or starting treatment, you can reach out to us at 1-888-364-5977.
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