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Stanford University School of Medicine

Dispelling myths on eating disorders and healthy eating

12482536763_7be91b8987_zEverybody eats. It's one of the most basic, universal activities there is. Yet, across cultures — and even between individuals — our views of food couldn’t be more different.

On one end of the spectrum, eating is viewed as a pleasure, a gastronomic experience to savor. On the other extreme, eating is a necessity where nutritional value matters more than taste. And then there’s an added layer of complexity: The way our diet affects the way we look and feel. It’s no wonder so many of us are left scratching our heads when it’s time to decide what to eat, and that some of us end up eating, or not eating, in ways that harm our health.

It's estimated that about 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States alone suffer from eating disorders. Although, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, the actual number of people affected is likely much larger. To help address this complex problem, the BeWell @Stanford blog interviewed nutritionist Jennifer Waldrop, MPH, RD, Here's she dispels some of the myths related to eating disorders and shares some tips on how to keep your diet and health on track:

When eating disorders or body image conflicts are mentioned, some assume that those who suffer from such conditions are only preteen, adolescent, or young adult women. However, more and more older women, approaching or beyond “midlife,” are admitting that they also struggle with their bodies and their eating. Furthermore, eating disorders do not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity or culture.


In an increasingly image and weight-focused world where dieting, “clean eating,” food elimination, and calorie counting are perceived as normal, it is hard to know when healthy eating crosses the line into disordered eating. One major distinction is in the mindset. To assess this, we often ask people: “how much head space is taken up thinking about food, fat, weight, exercise, calories, size, and shape?”

This interview provides a number of insights on eating disorders, disordered eating and how we can reframe our relationship with food. If you have a few minutes, give it a read. I highly recommend it.

Previously: Eating disorders in college athletes highlighted in NBC Bay Area storyPatient tells how social media helped her overcome the “shame” of her eating disorderFamilies can help their teens recover from anorexia, new study shows and A growing consensus for revamping anorexia nervosa treatment
Photo by Filter Collective

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