I didn’t dream I would be the person who would be living with a mental illness; I would read about people who are dealing with it but definitely wouldn’t categorize myself with one (that was back in the thick of my eating disorder days).
As time went by, I looked upon my own ideas and thoughts. I realized I had developed an eating disorder – it started as an eleven-year-old.
I mean, if mom was on a diet, then it must be something I should do too?
Mental illness is widely talked about nowadays when it comes to food and eating. It is so apparent that diet culture can lead to eating disorders, but when I was a teenager, there was an extreme lack of education and a drive towards achieving the ideal body, especially from a parent who was battling with their own demons that had been passed down from generation to generation.
An eating disorder is a diagnosed type of disordered eating; it’s so much more than food and bodyweight – it’s a mental illness.
What Defines an Eating Disorder?
Distorted eating is when a person has an unhealthy relationship with food and eating. These behaviors and habits lead to the development of an eating disorder and can impact many facets of their lives.
The obsessive nature of these behaviors, such as extreme concerns about weight and body image, is a sign it’s time to seek support.
It all starts with an innocent diet to lose some excess weight, and this can lead to many factors that can increase the risk of developing an eating disorder.
I’m very passionate about Binge Eating Disorder (BED) as it often goes undiagnosed & the stats are far broader than accounted for.
What Factors Can Put A Person At Risk Of BED?
- Environmental Factors
Being an adolescent or a young adult woman, social pressures, pursuing professions or activities that involve being thin. Media, bullying, parental influence, negative body image comments
Females are more impacted than males in the family. If a close family member has BED, then it will be predominately passed down.
Low self-esteem, worthlessness, unhappiness, poor self-image.
Depression & anxiety. Trouble expressing feelings, disappointment, difficulty managing emotions.
- Biological Factors
Hormonal irregularities, low level of brain chemicals like serotonin.
The Hard Statistics
Binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the U.S. A neglected addition that is often undiagnosed, binge eating disorder affects more than 2.8 Americans. More than 30 million people in the USA will suffer from an eating disorder.
- Nearly 3% of adults experience binge eating disorder in their lifetime (Biological Psychiatry, 2007)
- American women (3.5%) and men (2%) experienced a binge eating disorder during their lifetime, making binge eating disorder three times more common than anorexia and bulimia combined (Biological Psychiatry, 2007)
- Less than half (43.6%) of people with binge eating disorder will receive treatment (Osteopathic Family Physician, 2013)
Binge Eating – A Personal History
I worked through my BED and want to uncover more about the topic because there are so many women who hide in guilt, shame, and isolation. As it is severely undiagnosed in many cases & it keeps women in turmoil with negative thoughts and fear of being seen.
I was on the diet from age 11; then, I participated in yo-yo dieting and binge eating for 29 years. The scale went up and down; it never remained consistent. I was getting bigger or smaller with no end in sight.
To be honest, I felt so ashamed of the way I turned to food as a crutch & then felt even worse after going back on a diet & again putting on weight (plus more) and then having to see people I hadn’t seen for a long time & feel the constant shame that started to play on my self-esteem massively.
I would isolate myself from going out or make an excuse not to be seen. And sometimes, I just hide wrappers and eat a full meal like I hadn’t eaten for hours when I wasn’t on a diet.
My weight would fluctuate, and my self-esteem was non-existent.
My wardrobe became a haven for all sizes and brands. I would look at my skinny clothes and think I’ll get there again one day…
- Frequent dieting, possibly without weight loss
- Eating alone or in secret
- Eating even if you’re full and not hungry
- You feel that your behavior with eating is out of control
- feelings of depression, disgust, being ashamed, guilty, and upset about your eating
- Restriction of diet can lead to more episodes of bingeing
- Weight gain
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Other mental illness such as depression, anxiety & substance abuse
It all starts in the mind – A moment of self-belief that you can beat your negative thoughts, your ego – your inner critic… You have to believe you can move forward in your life and you can succeed.
If you can create the action, you can create confidence.
These points were truly life-changing for me in my turning point of recovery
- Working on changing state & behavior
- Understanding the conflict, you face daily & why
- Moving your body
- Creating new neural pathways so you can learn new thoughts and reprogram your mind
- Understanding it didn’t start with you and how to break the pattern
- Releasing the control and surrendering yourself
- Confidence & self-worth a skill that will grow with you for years to come
I continue to help women to overcome the negative thoughts that have kept them trapped and action-less so they can develop the self-esteem to dream again. Having been through the situation myself, I have the empathy and understanding that has led me to my dream career.
If you are battling through with no one to talk to & you think this could be you. It’s time to talk to someone who can help you. Once you start to break free from the situation, your time, energy, and awareness can only move you forward – one day; you’ll wonder how you were ever living this way; I promise you life can change very quickly with an open heart.