I do not look like someone who has battled an eating disorder, which is exactly why I feel it’s necessary to share my story. I’ve always had a complicated relationship with food, but my eating disorder has had so many incarnations over the years. I was always the “fat kid” growing up, but with the help of sports and theater, I managed to remain popular and accepted by my peers, regardless of how overweight I was.
In high school, I struggled with bulimia and anorexia. I hid the fact that I was starving myself from my family and lost about 70 pounds over the course of six months, but because I was overweight I never got to the point of being emaciated. People were actually “proud” of me, not knowing the unhealthy steps I’d taken to get to what they assumed was a “healthy” weight. Often, I would find a hidden corner of the auditorium and read while everyone else ate lunch. I had to constantly carry rolaids with me in order to battle the acid that was always churning within my empty stomach.
In college, I continued with patterns of starving, binging, and purging. The irony was that I was in culinary school, but my boyfriend at the time threatened to leave me if I gained weight. I began to purge everything at this time. I even excused myself in the middle of cooking class to throw up the food that I had to taste test. It wasn’t until after we severed our toxic relationship that I began to realize that there might be more to me than just my physical appearance.
I began putting weight back on, but shortly after, my good plans fell away into a whole new issue: binge eating. For the next four years, it was like I had no control over myself. I began eating when I wasn’t even hungry. I’m not sure if I was filling some void, eating my feelings, or just doing it out of boredom. Maybe it was all three, but regardless of the reason, I was now facing the issue of becoming obese before my thirtieth birthday.
The last ten years have been an absolute roller coaster of using food in all of the wrong ways. Though it is the hardest change I have ever had to make, I’m changing my habits in a way that will help my physical and emotional health. Cooking and eating delicious, fresh, homemade foods, and sitting down to enjoy the process of eating for fuel, rather than out of boredom, has completely changed the way I feel. It’s a daily struggle to not to fall into old habits. I still have a long road ahead of me. Eating isn’t like an addiction where you can quit cold turkey and I know my eating disorder will follow me for the rest of my life. I still have days where I feel happier if I've only eaten one meal. I have days where I purge things because I don't like the feeling of being full, but I have days wear I wear a crop top and let my two inches of chubby stomach show. Sometimes I feel like a walking contradiction, but everyone battles their demons in their own way. I’m trying, everyday, to find a balance between becoming healthy, losing weight, and not being obsessed with the number on the scale.