Unmasking Eating Disorders

Eating disorder support

Eating Disorder Myths

In a world where appearances are often given precedence over well-being, it’s essential to talk about eating disorders and their prevalence. As a Dietitian specialising in eating disorders, it’s my mission to provide accurate information and support to those in need. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the top 5 myths about eating disorders and shed light on their prevalence, which has been further exacerbated by the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Myth 1 – Eating disorders only affect young girls

One of the most common misconceptions is that eating disorders exclusively affect young women. The truth is, eating disorders do not discriminate based on age, gender identity, body size or cultural background. They can affect individuals of any age, gender, neurotype or socioeconomic status. Eating disorders are more commonly portrayed in the media in young women, however men, older adults and non-binary folks also experience eating disorders.

Myth 2 – Eating disorders are a choice

It’s crucial to understand that eating disorders are not a choice. They are complex mental health conditions rooted in a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. No one chooses to have an eating disorder, just as no one chooses to have any other mental health condition. Blaming someone for their eating disorder only perpetuates stigma and makes it more challenging for individuals to seek help and support.

Eating disorder myths

Myth 3 – You can tell if someone has an eating disorder just by looking at them

Another common misconception is that individuals with eating disorders always appear underweight or extremely thin. In reality, eating disorders manifest in various ways, and individuals may maintain a “normal” weight or exist in a larger body. It’s not about how someone looks, but rather about their thoughts, behaviors, and relationship with food and their body. Recognising these subtle signs is crucial to provide early intervention and support.

Myth 4 – Eating disorders are about looks

Eating disorders are not just about wanting to look a certain way or being vain. They are complex disorders that often stem from deeper emotional and psychological issues. While concerns about body image may be a part of the disorder, eating disorders are often coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, trauma, or other underlying emotional issues. It’s important to address the root causes rather than simply focusing on outward appearances.

Myth 5 – You can just “snap out of” an eating disorder

Eating disorders are not something that can be cured by willpower alone. They are serious mental health conditions that require professional treatment from a team of doctors, psychologists, dietitians, exercise physiologists and others. Recovery is a journey, and it takes time, patience, and support. Encouraging a person with an eating disorder to “just eat” or “get over it” is not only unhelpful but can be harmful.

Eating disorders are not a matter of choice, vanity, or appearance. They are serious mental health conditions that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. Understanding the myths and misconceptions surrounding eating disorders is the first step in providing support and breaking the stigma.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, it’s essential to seek professional help and support. Recovery is possible, and with the right treatment and a strong support system, you or your loved one can overcome these challenging conditions and regain physical and emotional well-being. Remember, you are not alone, and there is hope.

Please reach out, or contact below for more information.

Butterfly Foundation Helpline 

1800 ED Hope (1800 33 4673)

Kids Helpline 

1800 55 1800 or free webchat

Eating disorder support


About The Author

Madeleine Baumgart

Accredited Nutritionist (AN)
Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)
Credentialed Eating Disorder Clinician (CEDC)

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