Recovering from Binge Eating Disorder: #NEDAwareness Week
Recovering from Binge Eating Disorder: #NEDAwareness Week
Posted By: Paula Henry
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Content Warning: Eating disorders.

Disclosure: I am not a medical professional, I’m simply sharing my personal experience. If you need assistance, please consult a medical professional. If you would like some more information on eating disorders or confidential help, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) can provide this. They have confidential phone and chat hotlines and more resources here. They even have 24/7 Crisis Support via text: send NEDA to 741-741

It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and I wanted to share my story as someone in recovery from Binge Eating Disorder (BED), diagnosed 11 years ago – binge free for 6. I think it’s especially important for larger-bodied people to share their experiences as they’re often underrepresented in the conversation.

I was five years old when I first understood I wasn’t a desirable size, according to my parents. A lifetime of chronic dieting, massive food restrictions, and reinforcement from family and culture that my body wasn’t acceptable did a number on me.

A quick, but by no means exhaustive, look at my dieting history. Any given year, there were multiple weight loss efforts attempted to “fix” my fat body. A mix-and-match menu of food restriction:

Age 5: Mousercize record – Mickey and friends tell you what exercises to do
Age 6: Jazzercise classes with mom, food tracking
Age 8: Cabbage soup diet, food tracking
Age 8: Child psychologist visits, nutrition counseling, calorie counting
Age 10: Weight Watchers
Age 12: “Stop the Insanity!” by Susan Powter
Age 13: The Firm + Weight Watchers
Age 14: Phen-Fen
Age 15: “Get With The Program!” by Bob Greene and Oprah Winfrey. I still have my journal from this and it’s heartbreaking to read.
Age 15: Depression diagnosis, suicidal thoughts, fat camp (1200 calories and 3.5 hours of exercise per day)
Age 16: Fat camp again
Age 16: Slim-Fast
Age 17: Fat camp visit #3
Age 17: Compulsive over-exercising before and after school
Age 18: Fat camp visit #4 as a junior counselor and aerobics instructor. I taught step aerobics and kickboxing (Tae Bo style)
Age 19: Restriction then beginning of binge eating
Age 24: The Atkins Diet
Age 25: Phentermine plus Atkins
Age 25: More Atkins, The Biggest Loser audition
Age 26: Undiagnosed binge eating
Age 27: The Biggest Loser audition 2
Age 27: EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified)/Binge Eating Disorder diagnosis
Age 28: Low carb/keto
Age 29: 2 rounds of hCG
Age 30: Half marathon with Whole30
Age 31: Juice fasting
Age 33: 3 binge eating episodes during my divorce – binge free since then.

With a history like this, it’s no wonder that my relationship with food and my body is incredibly complex. I have gained and lost hundreds of pounds multiple times over. I can’t say this with 100% certainty, but I do believe that my depression and generalized anxiety disorder are very much rooted in this body shame. It impacts my life in multiple ways every single day, and I don’t know that will ever not be true.