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My unhealthy relationship with food for 10 years

by Unhealthy emotional eater
(New Zealand)

Hi there :)

Firstly, thank you so much for this site, Shaye. It must take a lot of effort for the work you're doing, but I just want you to know, that it is really appreciated. I have read through some of these stories, and I feel like I'm not alone!

My story starts in South Africa at the age of 12. I had just been moved into a new school and although I settled in well; most people liked me, I had exceptional grades, and a small group of friends - there was a group of girls who would constantly tease and bully me. I became extremely critical of myself and tried to figure out why they didn't like me as everyone else did! I began starving myself, and soon found myself hating food. To me I was never thin enough and I turned into a completely different person. I was always tired, extremely grumpy, always fighting with my family, depressed and socially awkward. My parents were very concerned, but I did not think I had an eating disorder.

At 14 I was sent to a top-performing all girls boarding school were I became even more socially withdrawn and depressed. I had no friends, and I was no longer the star pupil in class. I drowned in a school of thousands of other overachievers. I was being forced to eat 3 meals a day; pizza, hamburgers, muffins - foods that would otherwise never have passed my lips. I gained some weight, and was no longer at an unhealthy weight. After a year and a half, my parents finally agreed to take my out of boarding school and I was driving 3 hours a day to get to and from school. I made some friends, but they were all so far away that I didn't get to see them often. I was so self conscious of my weight that I was constantly trying different diets, or just eating very very little. I became a very shy and troubled girl.

We moved to New Zealand when I was 17. My sister adjusted well, but I didn't make friends easily and was very self conscious. I filled an emotional void with food and became very overweight. I remember getting dropped off by the bus early each morning, and locking myself in the bathroom so I wouldn't have to sit outside on my own. Usually I would start eating my lunch just to fill the void. I was very self-conscious of being overweight, but that only lead me to more emotional eating.

When I went to uni at 19, I started dating an anorexic. I felt like a whale compared to him, so I turned to the only way I knew of losing weight fast; starving myself. I lost a lot of weight in a very short period of time, and I became obsessed with losing more. Luckily, the only thing stopping me from losing more, was my boyfriend who said that he preferred me not having beestings for breasts! :P I didn't believe I could ever eat "normally". I thought that if I started eating again, I would become out of control again just like when I was overweight. I maintained a borderline healthy low weight, but was always starving myself, and when I occasionally had a binge, would purge. This binge and purge cycle soon became overwhelmingly common. Sometimes this would happen up to four times a day! After a year of this, I started growing little black hairs on my back and realized that I wasn't healthy. I knew that I needed to change.

Although I still did not believe I had an eating disorder, I wanted to be healthy. I started following an eating program that had been developed for a friend by a nutritionist to help her lose weight. Although I did not need to follow a weight loss regime, It was still more food than I was used to consuming. It was difficult at first, and I was terrified of gaining weight. I started exercising excessively. 2-4 hours a day, 6-7 days a week.

But then, uni became very busy and I no longer had time for exercise. My relationship was having issues as well, and I soon returned to binge eating for comfort, but I didn't have the motivation to purge anymore as I told myself that my boyfriend wouldn't find me attractive enough even with a good body. I gained over x kg and my grades dropped.

This was over a year ago, but I find that I am still suffering a very unhealthy relationship with food. I would diet, and develop an all-or-nothing mentality. As soon as I go over my x calorie limit, it would turn into a massive binge, followed by purging, or I would just give up and continue living with self-loathing and emotional eating. I don't like the person I've become. I have made good friends at university, but am becoming more and more distant, and returning to all my old ways. I avoid social situations. My family do no trust me, as I am always stealing their food.

The pressures of moving to Australia in a few months, and finishing university soon, are just too much for me to handle! I have no motivation, yet there is so much that needs to be done! I am lonely, yet I can't face people. I am overweight, yet I cannot stop eating! I really need help.

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Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community


The Bulimia Recovery Program