What Causes Eating Disorders? Part 1

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, you are probably looking for effective treatment solutions that produce true recovery. When you look for solutions, one of the most natural things to do is to look for a cause. After all, if you can track down the reason for something, then you can often get to the root. However, with eating disorders, finding the cause is not as simple as it seems. In this article, we’d like to look at some of the common reasons that people suspect are the cause of their eating disorder. We’ll debunk some myths and sort out fact from fiction and urban legend.

1. Are eating disorders caused by parents?

Eating disorders are not your fault. If you’re a parent, it’s easy to wonder if your son or daughter’s eating disorder was due to something you did, and we’d like to reiterate: This is not your fault, so don’t blame yourself or allow others to cast blame on you. While there are many factors that contribute to the cause of eating disorders, it is a fact that teens from loving, nurturing family environments are also susceptible to developing eating disorders.

What does seem to have an influence on the development of eating disorders is the prevalence of media messages and images that idolize slimmer body shapes. These messages create strong societal pressures that often contribute to defining a young person’s identity until they feel that who they are will be compromised unless they look a certain way. This pressure affects different people at different levels, but in the case of someone with an eating disorder, it contributes to reinforcing unhealthy ideas.

2. Are eating disorders a choice?

No. No one ever wakes up in the morning and says to themselves, “Hey, I think I’ll work on developing an eating disorder today.” On the contrary, eating disorders are something that comes on so subtly that the person probably doesn’t even realize it until it’s full-blown, and even then, they may not recognize that it’s a problem. Once they do, their daily thought upon waking up in the morning is probably more along the lines of, “Hey, I think I’ll work on eliminating my eating disorder today,” but even then, it’s not that simple, and progress is often discouragingly slow if a person doesn’t have help.

For people who have never had an eating disorder, it’s easy to make the mistake of looking only at the behavior. Therefore, they might think or say, “Why don’t you just choose to stop?” It seems to them like it is a choice. This is because the underlying factors that cause the eating disorder are invisible to them. Just like it’s unproductive to say to a smoker, “Why don’t you just quit,” it’s usually unproductive to say to a person with anorexia, bulimia, or another eating disorder, “Why don’t you just eat the proper number of calories for your body?”

These are just two of the questions people are asking about the causes of eating disorders. Stay tuned for our next blog post, when we’ll explore even more of the commonly suspected causes for eating disorders.

In the meantime, choose Canopy Cove for residential or outpatient eating disorder recovery. We believe that eating disorder recovery is truly possible, and we are here to help you to make your recovery a reality. Get started today and give us a call.