I’ve felt anxious about writing this and sharing it online. Time and time again, I think about it and then change my mind because I’m never 100% sure if I want to share it at all. Then I think about all the people out there who feel shit about themselves constantly and I realise, this needs to be shared. Here is week one of the real talk series: disordered eating without a diagnosis.
Growing up with disordered eating
I have spent most of my life worrying about my body and my appearance. As a child, I was teased for being chubby. I remember wanting to diet as young as 7 years old. I would say no to a dessert after dinner and have an apple, only to crave the dessert more, eat the chocolate and feel like a failure.
In my teens, different events in the year would shape my attitude towards food. Before going on holiday, I would restrict food and exercise monotonously almost everyday. I’d then binge at the all you can eat buffet at the hotel. One time, I was sick (not forced) on the first night because my stomach couldn’t handle the change in portion size. I felt like a failure for being so greedy. At the end of every school year, I would aim to lose lots of weight by September. I wanted to go back to school ‘changed’ and ‘better’. Every September, I remained the same, feeling like a failure.
I would search the internet for my favourite actress at the time, wanting to know every detail about what she eats and how she works out. If I couldn’t calorie count everything, it didn’t count and I had failed. Binge eating inevitably followed.
Disordered mentality and behaviours
Before I understood the severity of eating disorders, I used to wish I could be anorexic. I wanted to lose weight and be thin. I felt like a failure for not being ‘strong enough’ (as my younger self described it) to restrict long enough to get there. For not being ‘strong enough’ to hate food enough to stop eating. My eating tendencies resembled that of a person with bulimia, restrict and binge. I never engaged in compensatory behaviours.
My behaviour wasn’t enough to be diagnosed with an eating disorder. For a long time, I wished that my habits were worse. In the beginning, I wanted to achieve the thinness I craved. In later life, I wanted support for my horrific relationship with food. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to have an eating disorder, but I understand the agony of disordered eating tendencies and low body image.
You are not alone
Society has conditioned us to worship certain body shapes and sizes. Diet culture then benefits from our consequent desire to buy into achieving those very looks. Ultimately, our self-worth as a society is decreasing rapidly. You are beautiful exactly how you are and food should not be your enemy. If you struggle with your relationship with food and you feel rubbish when you eat things you think you shouldn’t be eating, you are not alone. Please reach out if you are struggling. There is a whole body positive community out there, waiting to embrace you with open arms. Come join us, life is much better with cake.
I hope you’ve read something that resonates with you today from this week’s real talk about disordered eating without a diagnosis. In next week’s edition of the real talk series, I’ll be writing about my current relationship with my body and food.
If you’re struggling with your relationship with food, contact BEAT Eating Disorders service for support.