This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and I felt a pull to share a bit of my story. This topic is something I am passionate about as I lived so many years of my life with some form of disordered eating.
What’s most important is to know that you don’t have to fit into a clear category, like anorexia or bulimia, to have an eating disorder and you certainly don’t have to be thin or look “sick.” Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes.
How did I know I had a problem?
I was obsessed with food and my body and these obsessions were interfering with my daily life.
I went through years of eating far too few calories and exercising far too much. If I missed one day, I would feel so much anxiety. I feared eating out because I didn’t know exactly what was in my food. I never ordered what I wanted but ordered whatever I thought had the lowest amount of calories on the menu. I hated social situations that involved food and I also avoided anything that would involve late evenings and alcohol because I had to be up and in the gym or on a run the next morning.
It's not surprising that so many “Healthy Living” bloggers have struggled with eating disorders because an easy way to cover them up is to say you’re just trying to be healthy. Yes, eating nutritious foods that make you feel good is great but being afraid of not eating “healthy” for fear of gaining weight is not great.
About a year ago I looked at my first few years of blog posts and felt so incredibly sad. The food I ate and shared was a clear indication that I had a problem yet, I thought I was being so healthy. Seeing those posts brought up so many memories and how my obsession with food only worsened my struggle with anxiety and depression and caused me to isolate myself from others.
I was never quite “thin enough” to cause alarm despite thinning hair and losing my period (although I’m sure a few people noticed some changes). I actually started gaining weight after a couple of years of this behavior because my body’s metabolism shut down and started to store fat. Yet, my mind was still in that same place and even more panicked now.
Eating disorder recovery is rarely a straight line. I have had swings towards a positive relationship with food and then swings back in the other direction. But if you look at who I was back then and who I am now, the difference is huge. The freedom is amazing. I no longer think about how much I can or cannot eat. I don’t go out to restaurants afraid of what to order. I eat things like a pizza (and a WHOLE pizza), pasta, bagels, candy, etc., without thinking twice or feeling like I need to burn it off the next day. I relish in taking days off working out and sitting on the couch to watch movies instead.
Even more than not worrying about food anymore, I have my life back. I can focus all of that time and energy on other more important things and relationships. Instead of being a woman who constantly puts herself down and believes she’s not good enough, I’m working towards being the confident and thoughtful woman I really want to be and know I can be.
Why am I sharing all of this?
To let you know that if you’re experiencing what I’ve been through, you’re not alone. And that making it to the other side of an eating disorder is 100% worth the effort and difficulty you go through to get there.
For more information and other people’s stories, here are a few great blog posts:
Answering Your Questions About Eating Disorder Recovery (lots of great links here too!)
I am NOT a doctor, dietitian, psychiatrist or any kind of specialist. I am simply sharing my personal experience. Please reach out to a specialist or someone you trust if you think you might need help. Also, visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support for more information on finding support.