Sunday, 17 November 2013

ED and Culture - is there a relationship?

I have already posted about how ED does not discriminate; indeed, ED can hit anyone of any culture, religion, background, ethnicity, or gender. However, many people have asked me to exapnd on this. So, here it is. I hope this helps!

First, I want to say that any medical provider who tells you that you do not or cannot have ED because you are of a certain culture is WRONG. Although data MIGHT show that ED is more prevalent in certain backgrounds (ex. Caucasian or Whites), this is for different reasons. One reason may be that in Canada and the USA, we have more awareness about ED and therefore diagnose more people with it. Also, our culture is open to talking about this. In my home country (Egypt), ED is fairly rare because not many know about it, and people do not discuss it. My parents never knew about ED until I started showing the signs of it. For some cultures, ED is not given enough attention because of how 'important' food is. For example, Egyptians LOVE food, and they always have food whenever people get together. To them, how could I, an Egyptian girl, have a sickness that makes me not like food and not eat? How could I not eat when all my family LOVED food? Was I crazy? Why was I being so stupid? It took a lot of time for my parents and family (and community) to understand that ED is a real, mental illness. It does not matter what culture you are from - it still is serious.

My point? Do not let someone say that you are stupid for having ED. They are unaware and need to be educated. In truth, it is not completely their fault. People do not know about ED because we do not really talk about it. Someone starving themselves to death does not get attention as much as other things, like depression or cancer. But YOU can change this. Learn and educate others. Visit websites and credible sources and know the facts. Then help others around you understand, too. It is only when my parents understood the facts about ED that they were able to see that I was seriously ill and not trying to kill myself - I was ill with a mental illness and I deserved care, gentleness, and help.

Now, let's talk about who ED hits the most. Again, we cannot really say. Data MIGHT show America as having the most cases, but as I discussed previously, this can be because of many factors. The truth of the matter is that no one culture is more prone to having ED than another. Yes, media can make things worse. And our attitudes about food and weight can wrosen things as well. But these are ENVIRONMENTAL factors. What this means is that these are things around us: our communities, the media, attitudes, etc. But perhaps ED is a mix (like all other illnesses) of genetics and environment? In other words, nurture vs. nature. Both play a role. I love posting information about how ED changes our hormones and neurotransmitters because this shows us how ED is a true illness on the biological level. I truly believe that my ED is a mix of enviornmental and biological factors.

I am going to post a link to a study that shows that ED is not related more strongly to one cutlure than another. It is kind of old, but it proves my point. Basically, this study shows that ED can happen anywhere - it is a mix of factors. While Western cultures may have more cases, this is largely a result of the mix of nature and nurture.

In summary, I want to say that ED is not related to your ethnicity. I have seen people of all sorts of backgrounds have ED. Yes, it may be harder to find in some cultures because of the lack of awareness, or because the typical attitude of that race may be different towards food, weight, and illnesses. My case is a perfect example: Egyptians love food, and here I was, an Egyptian girl, refusing to eat because I did not want to get fat. People did not understand how I was so foolish. But it is a real illness. It is when my parents and I learned about ED that we knew that this was not my fault. It was also not silly for an Arab girl to have this disease. Diseases do not choose between cultures. We do not choose ED. ED chooses us. Likewise, ED does not choose recovery. WE DO. So, if you need help, get it. Do not let someone tell you that you cannot have ED for any odd reason.


  1. I am studying political science and I know people may discriminate (which I believe dead wrong )but disease does not discriminate


  2. Canadians have many origins and all are different in many aspect but they are united in loving Canada and have the same risk of some diseases as ED .
    There are some disease affecting some cultures more than others as diabetes type 2 more in Aboriginal and Hispanics.
    .Thalassemia more in Mediterranean's and sickle cell disease more in Africans Canadian
    I agree with you Marina ED prevalence is the same in all cultures and Ethnic groups ,however diagnosis and treatment is better in north American and media talk about it and so seems like as if afflicting Caucasian more

    medical student

  3. I agree with you Marina
    While I was in the treatment programming and out patients We had several victims of ED who were not Caucasian and our providers clearly stated that no one is immune against ED


  4. Marina
    You know I had some kind of ED ,not AN and I was born in India and I can to Canada when I was 14.


  5. Marina
    You remember I told you how doctors were completely ignorant about ED as before I came across your blog, I took my daughter to many walk in clinics and none of them told me about possible ED ,all of them want test blood ,talk about stress etc.

    You know more than many doctors.
    God bless you

    A thankful mother

  6. I want thank you for this in particular what you said Ed choose to hit us (We did not choose ED) Also you said ED will not choose recovery .WE DO.
    ED is serious mental disease that needs support, compassion and understanding beside nutrition.
    Your support to me made a big difference Marina


  7. I am from Iraq and I know exactly what you mean.
    We love food and include food and drinks at every events ,wedding, funeral ,graduations, meeting ,and even when you just visit some one you Have to eat .
    All mental health in general and ED in particular are denied by Iraqi


  8. I am from Columbia and I know few friends have ED.
    I agree our culture undermine stress and mental illness but exaggerate pain and worry too much about cancer.


  9. I am Philip no and I know a family membered had ED long ago and thank God recovered


  10. We are a multicultural society and I am glad you addressed this here.
    I am as a nurse agree completely with this post.


  11. Culture has a great effect on presentation of the disease and on how people respond to the illness but ED can hit any body.I am Portogese and I know friends with ED.


  12. Culture can influence the way we live .I agree with you ED can hit rich and poor,white or black.


  13. As you know I am from middle east and I have no doubt that the way We eat and look at food is much differnt but after following Marina's blog closely for a year now and I learnt lots about ED and mental health ,I can tell you there are many people from my culture suffer ED and mental health and they basically do not know they have a problem!!


  14. I loved the flower and the wisdom of calming my hurt.


  15. I am from Romania and I know many of my friends with mental health and do not speak about it or see a doctor .
    I know 2 friends with bulemia and they are in complete denial

    S K

  16. I love the picture and the wisdom of the day


  17. I am an African Canadian and in my home country people dying from famine and starvation and so hard to see some one who you can tell having ED but whether we admit or not many mental health symtoms I can see and hear from my people .


  18. I agree .Most Arabic speaking people do not admit they have mental illness and I know one of the reasons that Arabic clients leave their their doctors when doctors explains their symptoms as mental health as depression.
    They think mental health means that all symptoms are in their head and not real even doctors usually exaplain clearly that symtoms are real .
    I agree with you Marina in Middle east We have mental illness .ED,substance abuse and addiction and homosexaulity but people deny having all those as oppression is the norm and people not free to express their feelings


  19. Thanks for tackling this issue.
    We are multicultural society


  20. I am from Somalia where my people dying from lack of food and malnutrition and so if you talk about ED in my community ,they may call you crazy.
    I am educated and I know some body from my community match the very same criteria of ED but I believe never diagnosed and never been treated

  21. There is complete lack of awareness about ED.
    Many people and even doctors and nurses think ED is a choice and people choose not to eat .As Marina mentioned previously ,may be at the beginning the monster ED start his deadly journey by luring victims in choosing to cut foods and restrict but later on victims will starve involuntarily.
    I would like to thank Marina for raising the awareness and spending time in this social blog for health and wellness.

    With my humble respect


  22. As ED is one of the most serious mental illness and can creep on victims life very insidiously ,it is not surprising that people underestimate its seriously and lack of knowledge about it and even most cultures deny it.


  23. I love the picture that is very much depicting the whole world populations and how are all different but one as human being having flesh that feel the pain and enjoy the hug and having emotions that sense the hurt and appreciate the smile and massage therapy!!!


  24. I was born in Iran and I met someone at a community celebration few years ago who had ED and recovered but after long years of denial and reluctance to get help.


  25. I like this post as We are Canadian and multicultural society.
    I take my hat off for you.



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