Are there eating disorder documentaries on Netflix? (7 documentaries)

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In this article, we shall answer the question “are there eating disorder documentaries on Netflix?. We shall also look at the various eating disorders and their symptoms and the importance of creating awareness about eating disorders.

Are there eating disorders documentaries on Netflix?

Yes, there are eating disorder documentaries on Netflix. Eating disorders are very serious conditions that affect one’s mental and physical health. They not only have a negative impact on the individual but also on the family and friends. 

It is estimated that more than 2 million Americans are battling eating disorders. There are many unreported cases due to stigma from family and friends. Many people living with eating disorders are often afraid, embarrassed and confused about the disorders. 

Some feel they are to blame for it and are therefore embarrassed to talk about their struggles. While there are still many challenges regarding open and honest talks about eating disorders, a few great documentaries have been aired to shine a light on eating disorders and the struggles people living with them have.

What is the importance of eating disorders tv shows?

Helps to connect with people going through the same

While eating disorders thrive in isolation, recovery thrives in a community. Tv shows that show people opening up and talking about their struggles and experience with eating disorders can help you connect with other people who relate to their stories. Being in a community/ group where people understand what you are feeling and going through cannot be compared to the support given by family and friends.

Creates awareness

Many people still have no idea how serious eating disorders are and instead judge and stigmatize those afflicted. Many families have no knowledge of how to help an afflicted member and end up making the situation worse. Tv stories with personal stories on eating disorders help in awareness of risk factors, symptoms, coping strategies and prevention methods.

It also demystifies the myths and misconceptions surrounding eating disorders. The stories help people to understand that eating disorders can affect people of all ages, gender, races, professions and socioeconomic backgrounds. The successful tv shows depict the real struggles of those with eating disorders.

It strengthens your recovery

Seeing other people’s stories helps you reclaim your power. The stories can help you come out of shame and secrecy and gives you the power to face the eating disorder. You have been given the power to tell the story of how, when and why you want to tell your story.

Watching the shows also helps to amplify your values and goals for your recovery. It helps you commit yourself to your own words as you encourage others.

They spread hope

The eating disorder tv shows act as an encouragement and proof that recovery is possible. Some people feel desperate and hopeless about treatment. Recovery can be a gruesome and difficult journey and a story of success acts as motivation that if others can do it, they can too.

They normalize talks about eating disorder

Talking about eating disorders and any other mental illness for that matter can be challenging due to the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. Creating shows that speak about struggles of eating disorders helps others come out with no shame and fear of being judged. The tv shows have the power to reduce stigmatization and instead, raise more awareness of the conditions.

It is important to also use this platform to educate you on what eating disorders are and the most common types.

Before we look at the Netflix documentaries on eating disorders, let us educate ourselves on what eating disorders are and their types.

What are eating disorders? 

Eating disorders are mental illnesses characterized by abnormal eating habits, and complex and damaging relationships between food, exercise and body image that impairs physical and mental health.

Eating disorders are also known to cause death. In fact, about one person dies every hour as a direct result of an eating disorder. (Eating Disorders Coalition, 2016)

Types of eating disorders.

According to the Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders fifth edition (DSM-5), there are six types of eating disorders. Obesity is no longer included as an eating disorder since it results from long-term excess energy intake relative to energy expenditure. 

A range of genetics, physiological, behavioural, and environmental factors that vary across individuals contribute to the development of obesity; thus, obesity is not a mental disorder. (Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders fifth edition 2013).

The six eating disorders are;

  • Pica
  • Rumination disorder
  • Avoidant/ restrictive food intake disorder
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Binge eating

Causes and risk factors of eating disorders

  • Genetic factors. If an immediate member of a family has an eating disorder, chances are that others are predisposed to suffering from the same or another type of eating disorder.
  • Psychological factors. Factors such as demanding personality types that seek perfection can trigger eating disorders later in life. Factors such as low self-esteem, depression, and self-respect can also cause eating disorders.
  • Social factors. Social factors such as poor relationships, bullying, societal demands and views on body image, size, weight and shape are often attributed as one of the major causes of eating disorders.

Eating disorder documentaries on Netflix

Before we look at the eating disorder documentaries, note that they might include scenes on eating disorders that can be difficult for some to watch. We encourage you to take care of your safety and well-being.

The top documentaries include:

Thin (2006)

It is one of the most talked-about eating disorder documentaries about four young women with anorexia nervosa in a treatment facility. It highlights the complex realities of living with an eating disorder and the challenges that come with treatment. The documentary, however, shows how gruesome the treatment can be and this can make the program confronting and uncomfortable. 

The documentary helps in enlightening about the seriousness of eating disorders and how difficult treatment can be.

Perfect illusions(2003)

This documentary follows four families that have been impacted by eating disorders. It goes into detail about how a child with an eating disorder can affect and disrupt the whole family setup. It also emphasizes the importance of a family in the treatment of one of its members with an eating disorder.

The documentary provides insight into the challenges faced by people suffering from eating disorders, especially the youth and the importance of connection and unitedness of the family when one of them has an eating disorder.

Hungry for change 

This documentary uncovers shocking secrets about weight loss, diets and food industries that they don’t want customers to know about. They include deceptive tactics to keep you coming back for more. In this film, you find out what’s keeping people from having the bodies and health they truly want.

It shows the lives of people who have experienced eating disorders first-hand and gets advice from health experts.

My 600 lb life

The series is about people who are morbidly obese and follows their journey as they try to lose weight. One of them is Melissa Morris, who weighs 673 pounds. She tries to do a gastric bypass surgery to lose weight and struggles with her morbid obesity which is threatening to affect her marriage and self-esteem.

Anorexia (a boy in a girl’s world)

This documentary helps in demystifying the belief that eating disorders are girls’ illnesses. The documentary follows the story of a young man suffering from anorexia nervosa. It shows the challenges he goes through being a boy and having an eating disorder.

The documentary will help you identify symptoms of eating disorders in men/boys and the day-to-day obstacles they face.

Embrace (2016)

This documentary is directed by Taryn Brumfitt, a body image activist. It explores self-image and body loathings and encourages us to embrace ourselves and our bodies. It also shows the influence of media in the development of eating disorders by depicting “perfect bodies” and an unrealistic portrayal of beauty and a healthy body.

The documentary is highly recommended for those struggling with a negative body image, negative perception of how they look and those looking for positive encouragement in self-acceptance.

In my mind 

This story follows a teenage girl, Arley, diagnosed with long-term anorexia nervosa. The documentary focuses more on her thought patterns during her darkest times. It highlights the negative impact her eating disorder has had on her relationship with her family.

It also shows how the negative thought patterns gradually improve to more positive ones during treatment. It also shows the importance of daily journaling in identifying triggers and how it helps during treatment.

Freaky eaters

This documentary shows the challenges faced by people with compulsions toward certain foods. With the help of professionals, they are able to determine the root causes of their agonizing disorders and regain control of their diet and lives.

America the beautiful (1&2)

The film is directed by Darryl Roberts and talks about America’s obsession with external appearance and the standards of beauty publicized by the media. The documentary has interviews with fashion experts, media personalities and celebrities and discusses matters arising, i.e. plastic surgeries that increase concerns of eating disorders.

America the Beautiful 2 focuses on the American beauty industry and looks at the fixation on weight loss, how it is misconceived to be healthy and how it has negative effects on Americans.

Conclusion

We have discussed the top documentaries on Netflix that are educative and informative on eating disorders and the struggles people with eating disorders go through. We have also looked at what eating disorders are and their types. We hope that these recommendations will help you educate and encourage those suffering from eating disorders.

Frequently asked questions: Are there eating disorder documentaries on Netflix?

Who has the highest rate of disordered eating?

Research has shown that gay men are more likely to be diagnosed with binge eating and 12 times more likely to report purging than heterosexual men. They are also more likely to use laxatives, diet pills, vomit or ft to control their weight.

Does the film insatiable talk about eating disorders?

Patty experiences flashbacks to when she got bullied even after a physical transformation. This shows that many people get their desired physique but the symptoms of eating disorders persist i.e. fear of gaining weight.

What triggers becoming anorexic?

  • Psychological factors i.e. perfectionism
  • Feeling limited or no control in life
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Poor stress coping mechanisms

Citations

Palm partners recovery center, 5 Best Movies/Documentaries on Netflix about Eating Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.palmpartners.com/5-best-moviesdocumentaries-on-netflix-about-eating-disorders/

Dr Linardon J. (May 10, 2021). 7 Best Eating Disorder Documentaries You Can Stream Right Now. Retrieved from https://breakbingeeating.com/eating-disorder-documentaries/

Ranker Film (March 9, 2021). Powerful Documentaries About Eating Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ranker.com/list/best-documentaries-about-eating-disorders/ranker-film

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