Diet or Disorder?
It can feel overwhelming to try and break the cycle of disordered eating on your own. Recovery is possible.
by Danielle Gaio, therapist intern at Peaceful Minds Psychotherapy
Did you know that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate over any other mental illness? Almost 1% of the female adolescent population has been diagnosed with an eating disorder in Canada. Eating disorders also affect the male population. Additionally, many people can develop and struggle with disordered eating habits without ever receiving a formal diagnosis.
There are many reasons why eating disorders are so dangerous, especially to young people. These disorders develop due to a variety of factors including biological, psychological, and social aspects of the individual’s life. People with a previous mental health illness or low self-esteem are at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder.
Many people who experience disordered eating feel shame about their struggle, due to the stigmatization that surrounds mental health. Individuals may be hesitant to reach out for support for fear of being judged or not believed. This fear stops them from getting the care and support needed. The way one experiences their eating disorder differs from another depending on their specific diagnosis and struggles. In the same way, the pathway to recovery looks different for everyone.
The "Ideal" Image
I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t mention the world of social media and how it affects the way we look at our bodies. Unrealistic images of what the "ideal body" should look like surrounds us through media on a daily basis. Many celebrities that create their own line of “healthy diets” or workouts that give you the best “slimming” results are being paid to sell a product and have no concern for the wellbeing of their followers. For teenagers, these celebrity endorsed messages are especially intrusive and harmful.
Behaviours of disordered eating can begin in early adolescence with restricting, over-exercising, comparing their appearance to their friends, calorie counting, ruminating on body size and appearance, or bingeing.
Recovery is Possible
In a world where bodies are idolized for looking a certain way, it can be difficult to not fall into these patterns of disordered behaviour. It is important to remember that the diet industry is a 6-billion-dollar one that reaps its profit from selling the message that we are not good enough, thin enough, or fit enough. Luckily, eating disorders are treatable and many people have recovered to tell their own story of healing and freedom.
Early intervention counselling with a trusted therapist is one of the best interventions to help you reduce symptoms of disordered eating and can help you gain the strategies and strength to overcome these challenges to live life more fully.