10 things I wish the world knew about eating disorders

10 Things I Wish The World Knew About Eating Disorders
Facts And Real Confessions About Living With an Eating Disorder

I asked hundreds of people who are in recovery or recovered from their eating disorders which facts about eating disorders they want to share with the world. Their answers might surprise you!

1. My eating disorder is there for a reason, and it’s not what you think it is

“I feel like everyone thinks the reason I had an eating disorder is that I’m just silly or ridiculous. But it really wasn’t about that. My eating disorder was really about how I felt about myself. It was there for a reason, but the reason wasn’t just that I wanted to look like an Instagram influencer. It’s that I felt terrible about myself most of the time. I know it sounds kind of weird, but my eating disorder made me feel better.”

“I want people to know that the facts about eating disorders are a lot more complicated than just weight and eating. It’s about my genetics, biology and psychology. It’s about emotions and how I feel about myself and other people and my place in the world.”

2. The symptoms of my eating disorder are invisible, unless you know what to look for

“I wish people knew how easy it is to hide eating disorder symptoms. If all you’re looking for is how much I weigh or the other superficial signs, you would never know I have an eating disorder. It’s as if the fact that I’m depressed and anxious doesn’t register unless I’m underweight. But my symptoms are real, and they’re interfering with my life every single day.”

“People used to act surprised when I told them I had an eating disorder. They even blurted out “but you don’t look like you have an eating disorder.” It felt really invalidating to be working so hard to get better at something and have people dismiss me because they think eating disorders are supposed to look a certain way.”

3. Having an eating disorder feels shameful and embarrassing, and these feelings actually make it worse

“I’m so ashamed of my eating disorder. But the awful thing is that the worse I feel about myself, the worse the eating disorder gets. It’s like unless I can figure out how to stop my shame about the eating disorder, I’ll stay stuck. I’m so embarrassed because I think people think I’m stupid for having this. I know that my feelings about my eating disorder are just making things worse.”

“One of the most important facts about eating disorders is that we feel ashamed all the time. Shame is such an important part of it, and I feel like we don’t talk about that enough.”

4. Weight restoration does not mean the end of eating disorder treatment

“I wish people, starting with doctors and treatment centers, didn’t stop treating you when your weight gets “restored.” It leaves so many of us with serious symptoms, but since insurance runs out once we’re weight restored we’re just left to deal with them on our own. It’s so frustrating that I have a mental illness but it’s treated as if the only important thing is weight. It’s almost as if I have to lose weight to get help, which makes no sense at all.”

“Eating disorders don’t always look the same. For me it meant looking completely average but having this huge secret. And I felt completely overwhelmed by my secret but compelled to keep doing it. Sometimes I felt like a failure because I was still struggling even when my weight was OK.”

5. Just because I’m staying abstinent from my eating disorder behaviors doesn’t mean I’m cured

“Just because I can stop doing my eating disorder behaviors for a while doesn’t mean I’m cured or anything. It just means I’m white-knuckling my way to recovery because there’s so much pressure for me to get better. But every time I stop my behaviors, treatment ends, and then I’m OK for a little while until things get stressful. Then I start up again. My eating disorder is my coping mechanism. In treatment I keep trying to find better coping mechanisms because I know this whole white-knuckling thing isn’t going to work long-term.”

“One of the facts about eating disorders I want people to know is that abstinence is not the same as a cure. So many people think they’re like substance abuse, but they’re not. We all need to eat every single day, but none of us has to drink or do drugs. It’s really different.”

6. I feel like a burden most of the time

“I know how hard this is on my parents. I feel awful that I’m putting them through this. They are so upset, and it’s costing them their retirement savings to get treatment for me. Sometimes I wish they were the ones going to therapy because I can see what a huge impact my eating disorder has on them.”

“I’m really trying not to be a burden. And I know that nobody really means to make me feel like one. But I know my eating disorder is a burden because it’s also a burden on me. I’m exhausted by my eating disorder, too.”

7. I would stop if I could

“Seriously, I would stop if I could. If I had a dollar for every person who gave me a simplistic solution to my eating disorder – including professionals! – I would be rich! I want to stop. I really would stop doing this if I could. But I just can’t right now. And the more I think about that, the more broken and hopeless I feel.”

“My eating disorder was genetic and biological – not just emotional. If I could have stopped just by wanting to stop, I would have.”

8. I’m really trying my best to get better

“I really am trying my best here. I don’t know what more I can do. I keep showing up for treatment, and I’m trying to get better. This eating disorder has a grip on me, and right now all I can do is keep trying my best.”

“I didn’t choose to be noncompliant and difficult. I didn’t choose to relapse and struggle. When I had an eating disorder it took me so much effort to exist, and I feel like a lot of people didn’t realize what I put into it.”

9. I know my eating disorder can frustrate you, and I feel terrible about that

“I can see how frustrating my eating disorder is for other people. I saw it on my doctor’s face when she first talked to me about it. I see it in my parents’ body language at every meal. I even sense it in my therapist sometimes. I’m pretty sure she gets frustrated that all her education and training can’t just magically make me better. I wish it could!”

“Eating disorders are hard for everyone. It’s not just me. It’s my mom and dad, my sister, and my friends. They all want me to get better so badly and they can’t understand why I won’t do it for them. But I didn’t choose to have an eating disorder, and if I could get better for their sake, I would.”

10. I am so much more than my eating disorder

“I’m still here! I wish people knew that my eating disorder isn’t everything. I’m still the same person. I’m smart. I’m talented. And I’m sick. But if all you focus on is my sickness, it just makes me sicker. I’m so much more than this eating disorder, but I think sometimes all of us forget that because we’re so focused on solving the problem.”

“I wish everyone could see the difference between who I am and what the eating disorder is doing to me. I wish they knew how hard I was trying to get better. And I guess what I wish most of all is that I knew that about myself! Because sometimes I don’t.”


If you want to learn more about how you can help your child recover, please reach out for parent coaching. I’d be glad to help!


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating disorders and body hate.

She’s the editor of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents handle their kids’ food and body issues.

Published by Ginny Jones

My mission is to help reduce body hate, disordered eating, and eating disorders.

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