My Story | How I Overcame Eating Disorders
Today I am sharing my story and more specifically my past with food. If you’ve seen anything that I promote or share on social media then you know this past year I’ve gotten my Precision Nutrition L1 certification to be a nutrition coach and I’ve been leading nutrition challenge groups for the past 2 years. It’s not my passion to tell people how much chicken and brown rice to eat – which is something I see happening a lot just because I’m in the fitness industry – but I really love diving into the mindset behind food and fitness because that’s where I got lost for many years.
If anything resonates with you please comment below after watching and offer someone else encouragement or share bits of your own story. As we share our testimonies it opens doors for others to experience healing as well. Isn’t that amazing… that by just being honest about your own life you can change the world? I think that’s so cool! We all have a voice and a value in the way we share and what we’ve experienced.
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Okay… My story… where to begin…
Let’s go all the way back to the 1st time I thought about using food to control something in my life. I was in middle school – 8th grade – and one of the leading teachers at my small private school died. It rocked my world, to say the least. I was questioning a lot and felt overwhelmed by emotions, so I came up with what I thought was a great plan: I was going to be able to at least control what I ate. I was still living at home – obviously because i was like 15 years old – and my mom even dictated all of my meals, so i would eat in my room when I could and throw food away. I even made a calendar and said on certain days I’d eat 1 meal, 2 or 3.
Now this didn’t last for very long as I moved through different stages of grief, and it didn’t immediately manifest in any disordered eating patterns, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that it was the first time I saw food as a means of control and emotional comfort – both indulging in food and abstaining from food would later become comforting to me.
Let’s do like a big skip forward to my senior year in high school when I got into a very bad relationship that stressed me to all breaking points – emotionally, physically and spiritually. I wasn’t sleeping or eating and felt constantly stressed – I was on an emotional roller coaster. Although I never restricted food intentionally or anything like that, I did lose a ton of weight and ended up at my thinnest ever – and very weak in my mind and body.
Yes, I loved being that skinny. But it was really the only thing I had. Everything else made me miserable. And honestly, I didn’t see myself as skinny. I never have, even at my lowest weights. It’s because of body dysmorphia – if you haven’t heard of this before, it’s basically where the image you see in a mirror is distorted and not an accurate depiction of what you really look like to others / or in reality I guess you could say.
After that relationship ended – almost two years later – I entered a wonderful season of healing, and as I found joy and my appetite again, I ate everything I wanted. The negative was that I had like zero knowledge about nutrition. I actually think I made my first salad ever when I started college – yes, I’m shaking my head and facepalming all at the same time – and had a serious affair with pop-tarts.
Because of my poor eating habits and indulgences I gained a ton of weight. I began feeling desperate and obsessive with food as my weight gain became a problem. What I mean by saying that I became “obsessive” is that my eating was highly emotional. I needed what I was eating, and I felt the impulse to eat until I felt stuffed or sick.
My sophomore year of college I studied abroad for half a year. Not long after I arrived in my new country, completely alone and disconnected from my normal life and family, I totally lost it.
I loathed my body – I could barely look at myself in the mirror. My skin was breaking out because my hormones were jacked up – I had been so stressed by the relationship and lost so much weight that I lost my period – and everything was just haywire with my weight and appearance.
Knowing what I now know, the hormonal fluctuation and imbalances were probably the reasons why I gained so much weight – not because I was eating insane amounts. Sure I wasn’t making the healthiest choices, but I gained more weight than ever in my life just by eating the way I had been previously accustomed to and growing up.
So there I was, terrified to be alone – before leaving I couldn’t spend even 5 minutes alone. I literally would call up friends to go grocery shopping with me and talk to me on the phone while I drove there because I couldn’t handle the thought of silence or doing something by myself. I had so much emotional baggage I still hadn’t dealt with and I was hard avoiding!
So I’m alone, loathing myself, ashamed of what I look like, feeling hopelessly trapped by my decisions and emotions – a real ticking time bomb that went off shortly after setting in my new city. I remember the night I decided to make myself throw up. I was living in an on-campus dorm so I turned on music to drown out noises and went head first over the trash can.
I was actually so excited that I was able to do it. For the first time in many dark months I finally felt like I had a real solution to get what I wanted – to lose weight, to undo mistakes and to just have better control over my life. This pattern of buying or stealing food, bingeing and purging continued for the rest of my trip.
Let me remind you that this whole time nothing bad seemed to be going on with me from the outside. I went on about life, travelled and explored, had fun and hung out with friends. My life wasn’t a horrible hell hole like i’m making it sound like – but that hellish darkness was always lying just beneath the surface.
My disordered eating dimmed every experience I had for the next 3-5 years. I remember beautiful cities like Paris through a cloud because i always remember the bad days and missed moments while I binged on chocolates and baguettes before spending sometimes hours in disgusting shared bathrooms purging up my shame.
After I travelled back home these behaviors made me miss classes, bail on friends, avoid gatherings and important life experiences.
I would stay with friends on and off for weeks at a time because I was so afraid to go back home because I knew I’d wait up until late into the night to sneak food from the pantry and spend hours in the bathroom. Some nights I would even get much sleep because it would be early morning before I ever made it back to bed.
It was like the only thing I could do to quiet the noises in my head – all the lies telling me i had to eat this or abstain from that, that i was only valuable if i was doing this or fear about the future or losing control – the fight between the truth that I knew about my behaviors being bad and the fears that racked me if i tried to break free.
I once read a book where a girl talked about “Ed” ( her eating disorder) like a person. It was then that I realized I had two people living inside of me – both anorexia and bulimia had lies they would whisper to me constantly, and they usually worked together to get me to my lowest points.
All these voices and emotions would become still when I purged. My body was so exhausted and my mind numb that it was the only time I had a true reprieve. Sometimes I wouldn’t even want to really binge and purge, but I was so tired of hearing all the voices and lies that I would give in just so I could get some silence.
I knew in my head these behaviors were wrong, unhealthy and only making me feel more helpless, but I didn’t know where to begin to find healing. I tried to “be good” and count down the days from my last binge – my thought was that the longer I went without bingeing and my number of good days increased, that those good days would be enough of a wall or deterrent to stave off another episode.
Of course this never worked. And if anything it had the opposite effect – whenever I inevitably gave into a binge i just felt that much more guilty if I ruined a really long “good streak.”
So that’s where I stayed for a couple of years. Taking steps forward then backwards. Yo-yo-ing between anorexia and bulimia. Food felt yucky to me, like I felt gross when it was in me – except for a few foods I thought were “clean.” I became vegan for this reason – it was something I proudly hid behind.
Food freaked me out and triggered strong emotional responses – so I eliminated as much food as I could. And no… what I binged on wasn’t always vegan – but it didn’t count right? That’s how I saw it.
So how did I get to where I’m at today – where food feels joyful to me – not scary?
Where food doesn’t often trigger an emotional response outside of healthy boundaries, and where I even know where the healthy boundaries are?!
For a long time my response was – “idk.” One of the side effects of malnutrition and chronic, elevated stress is that you don’t form memories properly. There’s huge blackouts in my memories because of this. There’s a lot of missed moments with my family and especially younger siblings whom I love more than life itself. Experiences that are just gone – or seem like they never were. I wasn’t in my right mind a lot of times. My decisions were poor. My focus was zilch. My emotions were all over the place — you get the picture.
So as i have come out of that black hole, some really important things are missing for me.
But the Lord has also revealed to me that even while I was floundering, He was giving me air – I’ve said many times that my life felt like an endless cycle of taking 2 steps forward then 2 steps back, but God was moving me forward and I didn’t realize that until much later. He never left me, guys.
Things really started to accelerate as I became my most desperate. When i finally turned all of my attention to Him I found more freedom than ever. I had to surrender control.
And there it is – that first inkling you saw in the beginning of my story. I questioned if God was really good – and just in case He wasn’t, I wanted some control. I had to come to the end of myself and rely on Him for each next step.
You have to come to this place where you stop pursuing the big picture of what you think it looks like to be healthy – you relinquish control and you simply ask – WHAT’S THE NEXT RIGHT THING I CAN DO?
I’ve heard Glennon Doyle Melton share her story and say that she asked herself this question when she was laying in her bathroom floor and considering the worthlessness of her life. What was the next right thing she could do in that moment? She got up, washed her face and got out of the bathroom.
And idk who said this or if it was an inspired word from the Lord, but I just found this in my notes… it says: You don’t have to be strong, you just have to be still.
This is such a good thing to hold onto because honestly I thought many times that I didn’t have the strength to pursue healing because I barely had the strength to hold onto my life. If you believe in the Lord are asking Him to heal you, it’s not about fighting anymore, it’s just about surrender.
There was bad, but there also was good that came from this. I’ve learned a lot of useful things that I get to share with others about how to hold onto hope while their victory unfolds, and I’m grateful for that.
But hear me now!
I am not saying that God allowed me to suffer while I learned my lessons. That’s a bad father, right? It would be like saying that a father who doesn’t beat his kids but watches while a neighbor comes over and beats them is still a good dad. That would still be so dang messed up right? Healing is our right, our promise! I can’t explain away all of the mystery about why suffering happens – but I can say 2 things that I know are absolutely true:
#1 God is good
#2 God does not wish or allow bad things to happen
I know this sounds contradictory and maybe a little insane to you. If God is “all powerful” and evil exists in our world, then either God isn’t real or He does allow bad things to happen.
He is good and doesn’t will me to hurt, doesn’t allow evil – and somewhere in there is a mystery yet to be unfolded.
Trusting in His absolute goodness has changed everything for me! When pain happens to me, instead of wasting time questioning His goodness I can now actually lean into His goodness for all that I need.
I always heard growing up in the christian church this phrase which I’m sure you’ve either heard or said – yes I’ve even said this: God allowed me to suffer so He could get the glory or I could learn this lesson… well I think that’s a terrible and incorrect view of the Father God. and now that I am truly coming to understand Him, I am more pumped than ever to get to know Him more and see the fruit and joy of being with a Good Father like Him just revolutionize my whole life. The bible even says that Jesus was the exact expression of the Father – and what was Jesus like? He healed everyone he came in contact with, he never turned anyone away, he loved and forgave and offered up eternal life and a joyous living experience at that…
Praise is my first reaction to everything now. Literally yes, everything! Praising God gets me into His presence and that’s where I find all of the answers I need. I have found that worship clears the airwaves. When my emotions run high and anxiety or pain is trying to take me down I am only a song away from breakthrough. If 1 song doesn’t do it, I commit to staying in worship until God gives me relief. I’ve even linked my favorite worship songs playlist below if you’d like to test some out.
This is my story – I’ve only told you what I’ve experienced and what I believe to be true.
No matter your beliefs, when you feel lost and out of control or buried with shame after a binge, ask: what’s the next right thing i can do? You can’t think 20 steps in advance… Right here, right now – what’s the next right thing?
And if you are brave enough to cry out to God, to turn on a praise / worship song and try to sing along. I promise He’ll meet you there!
Thank you for listening to my story, I hope it blessed you in some way! I know this was pretty intense, so maybe go play a happy song and just get excited that you now have new tools to take that next right step for you! Don’t stay bummed out, get up and get happy because your victory is coming friend!!