Eating disorders are diseases that do not discriminate. They come in all colors, shapes, sizes, sexes, etc. and vary across a large, and complex, spectrum. This is what makes them so hard to diagnosis and also reinforces so many of the stigmas that are associated with EDs. Brittany Miles, the creator of the amazing blog Redefine Beauty, who I featured on my Facebook page the other day, emphasizes this fact in an article for Shape Magazine entitled The Epidemic of Hidden Eating Disorders. The piece in Shape focuses on how weight is not the only, or even most important, determiner of an eating disorder. In fact the hyper attention that is put solely on an individual’s weight when diagnosing an ED can actually impede many who are very sick from getting the help they need. Shape further stresses this by interviewing professionals, one in particular from NEDA, who states: “Weight can be an indicator of an eating disorder, but it certainly isn’t the only one or even the best one,” says Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), adding that using weight as the only criteria for an eating disorder is incredibly damaging and demeaning to sufferers.”
By focusing purely on weight doctors, and other individuals who are not up to date with eating disorder research, are minimizing the psychological struggles that often cause eating disorders to develop in the first place. Disordered eating has much less to do with a low weight and much more to do with an unhealthy relationship with food, and especially your own body. The sufferer is usually overcome with pain and the eating disorder is the outlet for that hurt.
Personally, even when I was at my smallest I never dipped down to “a dangerous weight” according to BMI scales and other sources. However, even though my actual weight didn’t set off any red flags I was really sick and extremely malnourished. I now recognize that the weight I got down to was not healthy for my body type and I was practically killing myself to “maintain it.” Finally recognizing that weight was not the most important, or only, factor in reaffirming the fact that I had an eating disorder was a crucial part in my recovery. I hope that these resources can help any one else out there who is struggling to see that just because you are not emaciated and a size 00 pant you can still have a VERY serious eating disorder. I encourage anyone who thinks that they might be suffering from an eating disorder to check out the NEDA website and take their online screening. It’s free and it can only help. It’s time for you to finally: