It is highly apparent that many myths and misconceptions exist around eating disorders.

It is clear from our experience how damaging this misunderstanding, stigma and ignorance can be for both the person affected and their families. Indeed, there is no doubt that this stigma and ignorance can act as a major barrier to identification, early intervention and ultimately recovery from the illness. Eating Disorders Association works tirelessly to try and raise awareness of eating disorders, break down stigma and ultimately improve the lives of those affected by eating disorders and their families. Below are some of the common myths and misunderstandings that we frequently hear.

‘Eating disorders are a choice’ 

Eating disorders are serious psychological illnesses which NO-ONE can CHOOSE to develop. Eating disorders develop as a result of a complex interaction between psychological, social and biological factors. Each person’s experience of an eating disorder will be unique to them. No-one can choose to develop an eating disorder.

‘Only females develop eating disorders’

Anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of gender. Men can and do develop eating disorder. Eating disorders do not discriminate along any lines whether that is gender, race, socio-economic status or age.

‘You must be really thin to have an eating disorder’

Eating disorders are serious psychological illnesses which cannot be fully assessed on objective measures such as weight and shape.  Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes and you cannot tell by looking at someone whether or not they have an eating disorder. Many people who may appear to be within a normal weight range can actually be seriously struggling with a very serious eating disorder. 

‘Eating disorders are just a phase’

Eating disorders are serious psychological illnesses and must be treated as such. Early intervention and support is vital and greatly improves prognosis of the illness. If you suspect you have an eating disorder or you suspect a loved one has an eating disorder, please seek help now. Eating disorders do not just go away. 

‘Eating Disorders are a diet’

Eating disorders are serious psychological illnesses they are most definitely not a diet. 

‘Eating Disorders are a teenage illness’

While evidence indicates that adolescence is an extremely vulnerable stage for the development of an eating disorder, eating disorders can and do develop at any age. Eating disorders do not discriminate and anyone at any age can develop an eating disorder.

‘Recovery is rare’

People can and do recover from eating disorders. Recovery is always possible. Recovery can take time and it can be extremely challenging but recovery is always possible.  

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