Tag Archives: Bulimia

Disordered Eating: A Cry for Help

One day when I was probably in seventh grade, I read an audio magazine for blind teens. It was really a mixture of its own content with content from other teen magazines read aloud. One of the articles from another magazine was about an eating disorders unit. I just remembered this as I read a passage in J.J. Johnson’s Believarexic, in which Jennifer remembers learning about anorexia for the first time in fifth grade and wondering how the celebrity who died of it, got as skinny as she did. Later on, Jennifer learns about people being hospitalized for eating disorders. She envies them because of their size but also because of the attention they get.

This hit home with me. Back in seventh grade, I had already firmly embarked on the binge eating boat, but since I was at a healthy weight for my age and height, I didn’t notice my eating had spiraled out of control already. I remember once, probably in the same year, being confronted by my classmates about getting five candy bars out of the vending machine and eating them all in one sitting. However, I just got annoyed and didn’t realize that my classmates may have wanted to protect me from unhealthful choices.

We didn’t learn about binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating in health class. All we learned about eating disorders was about anorexia and bulimia. I even did one of my gifted program projects on these eating disorders. I didn’t tell anyone that, as I was writing the paper, I was trying to figure out how I could become anorexic.

No, I didn’t “want” anorexia, like some teens say they do. No-one consciously decides to develop an eating disorder. But I did want the perseverance that I perceived anorexics had. So I began keeping food diaries. This was before I had access to the Internet and I couldn’t read packaging, so I couldn’t check calories. In truth, as I look back at my food diaries of the time, they show a pretty typical overeater’s pattern. But I wanted to have some control over my food intake by keeping these diaries. Not that it worked, of course. Over the years, my binge eating got worse.

Back to the article about the eating disorders unit. For some reason, I felt compelled to be like these patients. I don’t know whether it was pure attention-seeking. I mean, I got plenty of attention from my parents and teachers. What I might’ve been missing was someone who saw how much I was struggling. Maybe, if I became anorexic, they’d see how miserable I was.

The other day, I had a meeting with my psychologist. She wa spushing me to take steps towards independence in preparation for my move in with my husband. I can’t remember whether she said so, but she gave me the impression that she felt I was doing better because I had much fewer meltdowns and emotional outbursts. In truth, I may be a little better, but I still have a pretty miserable life and feel pretty crap. Instead of becoming self-destructive or aggressive, I lie in bed or resort to overeating. A fair quality of life is not just not being a pain in the neck, but also being able to experience pleasure every once in a while. It isn’t that I never do, but it’s quite rare that I do things that bring me any sort of satisfaction. For example, I don’t craft nearly as much as I used to, because I can’t handle the noise and crowdedness at day activities.

I was also telling my psychologist that I’m completely dependent on my treatment team. What I meant was close to the exact opposite: I have no control over what goals are set for me, but it is my sole responsibility to reach them.

In a sense, maybe this whole disordered eating thing is a way of showing peope I need help. It sounds so pathetic though: someone who’s nearly thirty-years-old needing to be taken care of like a little child. IN truth though, often I feel that vulnerable.

Fighting My Disordered Eating

“Fight” is one of the writing prompts from Mama’s Losin’ It for this week. The first thing that came to mind as I reflect on this word is my fight against my eating disorder tendencies. This fight has been on my mind a lot lately.

Last week, had a bad binge and then in the evening, a fellow patient gave us cake. A nurse was joking about all the calories in the cake, poking my tummy as she asked: “Do you want whipped cream on your cake?” This was extremely triggering to me. At first, I thought “screw you” and decided to indeed get whipped cream on my cake. As time went by and I ruminated on what had happened, the nurse’s words and actions took on a life of their own, causing me to doubt my will to recover from binge eating. Not that I didn’t want to lose weight, but my initial instinct was to move back in the direction of bulimia by starting to purge again.

I later told the nurse that what had happened had been immensely triggering and she assured me that she’d just been fooling around a bit. Usually, this nurse has quite good ideas for helping me recovr from my disordered eating tendencies, so I took no further offense.

This doesn’t mean the doubts about how to fight my obesity have gone. In fact, the only thing holding me back from starting to purge again is my chronic heartburn, for which I’m getting an upper GI endoscopy done to see what might be wrong. I don’t have that long of a history of purging, but that doesn’t mean that the purging I did do can’t have caused damage. It certainly won’t get better if I resort back to purging now.

However, eating disorders are not just about preserving one’s health. After all, they often do the exact opposite. There is this hierarchy in eating disorders where restrictive anorexics rank as most perseverant and stubborn, followed by binge/purge anorexics, bulimics depending on their weight and the biggest losers (no pun intended) are the compulsive overeaters. In other words, as someone who suffers from binge eating only, I’m a total failure of an eating disorder sufferer. Yet I am not just an eating disorder sufferer, I am a person who happens to have disordered eating tendencies and who wants to fight these tendencies.

This hierarchy of the eating disordered is, however, also reflected in how seriously I take myself and am taken by other people with regard to my disordered eating tendencies. When I still purged, my GP put in my file that I had bulimia. I didn’t – bulimia has very strict criteria that I didn’t meet -, but it was in my records nonetheless. Now that I probably do meet the criteria of binge eating disorder, I’m commonly seen as just a little overweight at best and as an unmotivated, lazy fatass at worst. It’s probably crazy that I’d rather be seen as sick than lazy.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Physical Effects of My Eating Disorder

The first journaling question in Journaling in Eating Disorder Recovery is about body image. The author asks you to journal about what your eating disorder is doing to your body. She also asks you to contemplate whether your body image is worth these effects.

My eating disorder mostly involves bingeing, which is good for neither my body nor my body image. After all, it not only causes me to be nauseated after a binge and get acid reflux (I believe this is also triggered by bingeing and not just by purging), but above all it has caused me to gain about 40lbs in a two-year period. As a result, I am now about 30lbs overweight. This of course results in poor body image, because, you know, I don’t just think I am fat.

I just googled the physical effects of bulimia, and some I find are related to bingeing. For example, people who binge get a bloated stomach and stomach pains. The bloated stomach causes it to take longer before you feel full. A severe binge can even lead to a ruptured stomach.

I also purge on a semi-regular basis. While I don’t purge nearly as often as some bulimics, I do vomit significantly more than people who are sick every now and again with a stomach bug. Purging can have the following effects:


  • Tooth decay.

  • Erosion of dental enamel.

  • Dehydration.

  • Irritation of the esophagus.

  • Sore throat.

  • Acid reflux.


I have many of these symptoms.

Of some symptoms I found, it isn’t stated whether bingeing, purging or laxative use causes them, but I have them whichever is the cause. For example, one source listed acne as a possible effect. I use to think I’m too old for acne, but nonetheless I do get an eruption when my eating disorder is particularly severe.

Effects that aren’t mentioned, are the long-term consequences of obesity. Think, for example, type 2 diabetes. I don’t know where he found this so can’t check the source, but my husband says that eating lots of sweets is now thought to actually lead to type 2 diabetes because of leading to a chronically elevated blood glucose level.

Is my body image worth these consequences? Of course, my body image is damaged by my being obese, but what if purging actually causes weight loss? Note in this sense that in my case it hasn’t led to weight loss, but just suppose it did. Then, still, I would have to say that health is more important than outer beauty.

I do, however, sometimes believe that purging can’t hurt while obesity can. In this sense, I weigh the health risks rather than the effects on my body image. Or do I?

After all, people’s encouraging obese people to lose weight for health reasons is generally coupled with a lot of shaming of people’s fat status. Even if other people don’t say so, I tend to think that I need to lose weight to be good enough. I still tend to think my husband doesn’t find me attractive even though he’s stated a few times that his reason for encouraging me to lose weight is my health. Other people, like some staff, do more clearly fat-shame. For example, we get metabolic screenings, including waist measurements, every six months to a year. At my last screening, the nurse took my measurements and then commented I really need to lose weight. So far it could still be interpreted as pure concern for my health, but another patient was next. She took this woman’s measurements and then commented to me: “See, it can get worse.” That really was an unnecessary comment that instilled shame rather than motivation to get healthy.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Pros and Cons of My Eating Disorder

I have truly been relapsing in the eating disorder department lately. I don’t really know why, other than the fact that I’m quite irritable lately. This, though, seems to be a vicious cycle: I go from irritability to thinking about bingeing or purging to actually bingeing or purging and back to irritability.

In order to help myslef think clearer about my disordered eating habits, I bought the eBook Journaling in Eating Disorder Recovery by Laurie Glass. The book contains a multitude of suggestions for journaling yourself into recovery. One of the suggestions is to make lists, for example of feelings or thoughts. I really love list-making.

The book also contains journaling questions. I don’t know whether a pro/con list for your eating disorder is in them, but I made one recently. I made it for a pro-eating disorder site that I used to go to, but I left it. I might still be a member but don’t want to trigger myself by checking the list there. Let me make a new one.

Pros of my eating disorder:


  • Relieving stress.

  • Feeling something in my body rather than in my mind.

  • Being able to eat as much as I want of the foods I love. This one isn’t really true, as I’m not sure I want to eat till I’m nauseated. I however have the thought that if I recover, I need to adhere to a strict diet and can never have candy or pizza again.

  • Avoiding the physical and mental sensations of hunger.

  • Expressing that I’m not feeling well. This may be in the sense that eating disorder behaviors are a cry for attention, but also that they impress the reality of my struggles upon myself.

  • Avoiding pressures such as college or work or independent living.

Cons of my eating disorder:


  • Weight gain and the resulting obesity.

  • Acid reflux from purging. Possible esophagus damage as a result.

  • Not being able to engage in healthy social interactions because of having food on my mind all the time.

As you can see, I find I can think of far more pros for my eating disorder than cons. However, ultimately, these pros are based on the idea that I do not cycle from irritability to thoughts about disordered eating habits to eating disorder behaviors and back to irritability. In reality, the stress relief, for example, is very short-lived. For instance, I just binged terribly about an hour ago and have been feeling guilty and angry for the past thirty minutes at least.

Where I Am on My Eating Disorder Journey Right Now

I had a particularly bad week in the eating disorder department. I joined a (not too bad) American pro-ana site and considered joining the bad pro-ana sites that the Netherlands is rife with but was held back by their requirement that I post my weight. I had two binge episodes (Wednesday and today) and am currently fighting off the urge to purge.

In order to motivate myself for recovery or, if that doesn’t work, at least to distract myself from the disordered thoughts, I searched for recovery challenges agian. I remember starting one last year but never completing it. I have no intention of really completing this one either, but I thought I’d answer the first question, which asks you to assess where you are in recovery.

First, here are my stats:


  • Height: 1.53m or 5.0ft.

  • Weight: 74kg or 163lb or 11st 9lb.

  • BMI: 31.6.


Since becoming a psychiatric inpatient in 2007, I’ve gained 20kg, most of which I gained over the past three years.

It would be tempting to say I’m at my lowerst point ever in terms of recovery. After all, I’m one kilogram from my highest weight ever and to be honest I didn’t weigh myself just now but am taking my weight from a few weeks back here. For this reason, chances are I’m currently a bit over that 75kg mark.

If I’m truly honest, I must say I’ve never been truly recovering from my eating disorder. My eating disorder has changed, but some behavioral manifestations were always there. I’ve been overeating for fifteen years, probably binge eating to some extent even for all those years, although I didn’t recognize that what I was doing was more than just overeating until a few years ago. I purged for a while too.

On said American pro-ana site, I defined my eating disorder as in the middle between bulimia and binge eating disorder. In fact, however, I’ve not purged in months so am actually suffering with pure BED (I’ve never engaged in other compensatory behaviors). My staff see it as simple overeating so I’ve not been formally diagnosed with an eating disorder. I guess they’d rather see me as one of their so many obese patients who refuses to lose weight than deal with the underlying problem. I don’t know honestly whether I’m motivated either. Not having had any therapy that worked for any of my issues except a bit of guidance for my autism in 2007, I’m uncertain that I’m fit to ever recover.

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My Experience with Disordered Eating #NEDAwareness

This week is NEDAwareness week, a week to raise awareness of disordered eating and body image issues, established by the National Eating Disorders Association. I have several things to say about disordered eating and body image issues, and at first, I was going to write a list of common myths about eating disorders. These, however, are all over the Internet already. The only thing I might be able to add is the Dutch perspective. However, another way of addressing common myths about disordered eating and body image is to share my own experience.

First, I do not nd have never had a diagnosable eating disorder. I do however have pretty significant issues with disordered eating and body image. I mostly engage in binge eating, which I do on average once or twice a week. I overeat on more occasions, but then I either don’t eat so much that it can be considered a binge or don’t feel as though I’ve lost control. You see, I’ve lost sight of what is and isn’t nromal, how much to eat, etc.

To get to a common myth anyway: many people believe that you can only have an eating disorder if you’r thin, and/or that anorexia is the most common eating disorder. In fact, in the Netherlands, there are twnety times more people with eating disorders who have a healthy weight than there are people with anorexia. Binge eating disorder, which is what I am closest to, is the most common eating disorder, followed by bulimia and then anorexia. I still encounter people, including nurses, who say that I “only” overeat, so what’s the big deal? About three years ago, I started occasionally inducing vomiting, and that’s when my eating issue first felt real to me. In reality, I’ve had binge eating episodes since adolescence.

I am overweight. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m currently obese, but I haven’t weighed myself in months. On the Dutch eating disorder site I participate on, there were topics for discussing underweight and then healthy weight long before the admins finally opened a discussion thread on overweight. Most people believe that eating disorders are something you can overcome by just trying, and this is especially true for binge eating. I won’t say that people don’t minimize the struggles anorexics face, but with binge eating, people often assume that you just like to snack. On the same Dutch eating disorder site I mentioned, there is a blog post on the difference between an eating issue and an eating disorder, and someone who likes high-calorie food is portrayed as the one with the eating issue, while an underweight, restricting person is portrayed as the one with the eating disorder.

Let’s get one thing straight: you can have any weight and have an eating disorder. You can also display any number of eating-related behaviors and have an eating disorder. Examples of eating disordered behaviors include bingeing, purging, restricting, but also having rigid rituals or rules around eating. I know that rituals around eating dono’t mean you have an eating disorder per se, but they may be a sign of eating issues and they can interfere with healthy food intake and daily life. For example, if you’re so self-conscious about your weight (whether you actually are overweight or underweight or not) that you don’t want to eat in other people’s presence, this can lead to a lot of problems in your social life and can also mean you get less food into your body than you need, even if you’re not consciously restricting. Also, eating only a select number of foods or food types can be very unhealthy. I’ve heard of something called selective eating disorder, but this is not recognized by clinicians at this point. In my own experience, this habit interacts with my binge eating behaviors. For example, if I’ve had something for lunch that I don’t like (and I’m a very picky eater I’m told), I run a high risk of bingeing later in the day.

Lastly, I want to dismantle one myth that isn’t applicable to me personally: that eating disorders only affect white adolescent females. (Well, okay, I’m not an adolescnet anymore, but I’m white and I’m female.) There was a Dutch study in 2012 that asked around 250 high school boys about their eating and body image. As many as 25% had eating disorder features, including calorie counting (13%), being significantly underweight (10%) and laxative abuse (2%). This study showed the fact that eating disorders are probably underrecognized in males.