For as long as I can remember I have suffered with disordered eating patterns. I recall being one of the fussiest kids in primary school, never being able to decide what I wanted for dinner, but to be fair it did all look rank 😷. So to her dismay, I always copied off my best friends choices for dinner- this soothed my anxiety (and thankfully didn’t ruin our now twenty-year friendship👭)!
After playing with my lunch at primary school, I would return home to a tin of chopped up Heinz spaghetti and smiley faces for my dinner. Mmm. Grandads speciality. Those were the days. ❤️ If my Mam was home we were not so lucky. She was stricter on healthy eating and encouraged us to eat proper meals. Spaghetti bolognese, panackelty or mince and dumplings to name a few. Guaranteed to be slimming world specials, as that’s what she would be following at the time. I was never fussed, in fact I would refuse. I just didn’t like it and I couldn’t cope. Stressed and anxious by the taste, the texture, the smell- I was overwhelmed. After swishing my second meal of the day around my plate, as I would avoid often breakfast, I was DONE. I felt punished by my parents for feeling trapped in my own body. I couldn’t help my feelings and felt nobody tried to understand. Imagine all this going on before the you’ve even hit your teens? Stress, right?
Growing up I often indulged in sweets, treats and all things chocolatey – particularly at my grandparents house. Who’s grandparents don’t spoil them? That’s what they are for. But when I began restricting food at meal times, this is when the binging began. From as young as 7/8 I would fill my face with junk food trying to fill an emotional void. I would go to the shop after school and sneak food to my room. It made it so much worse because I knew my parents would never allow it, so that’s when the guilt set in. It was all so fucked up.
Going into secondary school was difficult. Everyone seemed to love all sorts of food, have a varied diet and then there was me. I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. A chubby, ugly kid with frizzy hair and a terrible diet. Every day I would get a jacket potato, cheese and beans for dinner of which I would eat a thin layer of cheesy beans then play with the rest until everyone else was finished so it looked like I had eaten miles more than I had. I would quickly scurry to the tray rack so no one could comment. If anyone did comment I would just laugh it off. I remember one time the deputy principal pointed out to me “you’ll never get a date playing with your food like that” everyone laughed including me but really I felt like the world was caving in around me. Did everyone know? I felt I wanted to die. It wasn’t long after that before I started selling my school dinners- then I had the perfect excuse not to eat
Due to my binging habits, my weight has massively fluctuated throughout the years. I started to put weight on in school and it wasn’t long before my family pointed it out to me. At just twelve years old I was attending Slimming World meetings. This wasn’t sustainable for me but I did lose some weight, ultimately it only led me to look for more extreme diets so I could lose weight faster. I remember asking my Mam to buy me grapefruits and eggs as I had read that is a ‘great way to lose weight’- I look back now and think ‘how foolish?’ What a dark place I must have been in. School can be a dangerous place as groups of kids compare body sizes and friends see how much weight they can lose. I remember me and my friends all going on the ‘Diet Coke diet’ where we drank nothing but Diet Coke. Would not recommend.
At one point during secondary school I even went to see a psychologist through CAMHS and spoke about my disordered eating but nothing come of it. I don’t think Binge Eating Disorder is taken as seriously as other eating disorders. I felt ashamed, I was really honest with a professional and still we got nowhere. What can you do?
Of course the disordered eating patterns continued throughout adolescence and so my weight continued to fluctuate. I suppose looking back I wasn’t massive in school, but I was bigger than my friends. It’s funny you always think you were a lot fatter than you were… and think “can I be that kind of fat now”. Truth be told I was about a size 14 at prom, but I felt disgusting. I wish I could go back and give myself a shake, some confidence and tell myself how beautiful I am. That I don’t need to damage my body in that way. Yes, binge eating is damaging, it is self-harm.
Since being diagnosed with BPD, I have been under CAMHS. I haven’t had any direct therapy for my eating habits as of yet but do believe I have began to manage them on my own. Over the past two years I have managed to lose six stone in a positive, healthy way. I have gone from a size 22/24 to a healthier 10-14 (depending where I shop) and to be honest I do not stick to any ‘diet’. Now I hardly drink alcohol and am even considering going tee-total. I barely binge anymore and have a much better diet, trying to eat everything in moderation. I am no longer scared of spaghetti bolognese. I eat out at restaurants (without feeling anxious- most of the time) and equally often cook at home healthy meals for me and my partner to enjoy. I’ve learned that food does not have to be associated to your mood. Eat to live, don’t live to eat! Change is possible. Recovery is possible.
Have you been affecting by an eating disorder?