This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week! This year I’m busting some myths!
Eating disorders are only a problem for white people
This may be based on the assumption that other cultural backgrounds may protect against eating disorders, maybe we think having a more close knit family, or having particular moral and ethical views means you’re less likely to have an eating disorder?
Whatever the reasoning for this myth, it’s inaccurate. Clinical research has shown that eating disorders are just as common, if not more common in people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds than in people from white backgrounds.
If a black male in his 20s walks into their GP surgery with low self-esteem and poor body image, more questions need to be asked about eating behaviours, it cannot be assumed he does not have an eating disorder.
We also need to remember that people from different backgrounds may present differently. As hard as this may be to hear, the closer a family is, the more deceptive the eating disorder may need to be to thrive. Eating disorders can be very clever and stay undetected for years, gradually gnawing away at the individual.
There is a lot of shame and guilt involved in eating disorders and the behaviours that come with them. In some cultures, lack of understanding about eating disorders may even lead to disgrace or dishonour.
The brain, just like any other organ can get sick; when the brain is sick, it leads to unusual behaviours, such as eating more or less than our body needs.
It is important factual information is shared so that all people have equal opportunities to access support and treatment. No matter what someone’s ethnic origin, the earlier the receive help, the more likely a positive outcome. With the right support people can recover from eating disorders.