How I struggled and conquered my eating disorder

I couldn’t stop my cycle of starving and binging, but I got help from some unexpected places.

Food is one of the few actual human necessities; a body can only power itself for so long without food consistently fueling it. Despite this urgent need, many find themselves having a strained relationship with food. Whether is be an overwhelming desire or a crippling fear, the American youth is struggling against food related disorders at an increasing rate.

Efforts to raise awareness for eating disorders and body image issues have become more prevalent, yet I still felt so alone when I first found myself faced with this particular issue. To make a long story incredibly short, I was overweight throughout all of my elementary and middle school years. I started to hate my body and wanted to make a change. My weight-loss journey began with a healthy pursuit, but I wasn't losing weight fast enough, so I turned to eating close-to-nothing and exercising excessively. I wound up being close to 105 pounds when I went to my yearly physical and my doctor told me I needed to gain weight.

Naturally, I was upset about that because I thought I needed to lose more weight, but I started doing it anyway to make my parents happy. However, my route to gaining weight became unhealthy once again: I began binge eating. I gained far more weight back than I needed and I was beyond upset with myself for being overweight – if only slightly. I couldn’t stop my cycle of starving and binging.

Guilt always came with eating, even when the food was healthy.

Guilt always came with eating, even when the food was healthy.

Finally, I sought professional help. I started seeing a psychologist while I was in high school, and I am so glad that I did. She was immensely helpful in my recovery, and with her help I was able to stop binge eating. I was so afraid to tell my mother that I wanted to see a doctor for help because I was scared that I would be judged or that she would look at me differently – as many people with these issues often feel. But I am glad to say that that was not the case. My mother, although upset that I was unhappy and struggling, accepted me with open arms and supported me in as many ways as she could.

The fear of my friends knowing about my condition also passed because they cared for me and never thought any less of me for trying to find happiness. So although it may seem daunting and impossible to open up to your loved ones, you need not fear it because your family and friends all know that getting you help and working on your happiness are the most important things.

My friendships are all the same, and we all still laugh and have fun!

My friendships are all the same, and we all still laugh and have fun!

Therapy was not the only treatment that helped me recover from my fear of food. I had to stop therapy with my busy school schedule and after some time, I started to fall back into my restrictive way of thinking.

At the time I was told I needed to gain weight, I became vegetarian and then vegan in order to help me gain weight with a healthy lifestyle. I would like to preface this with the fact that I am in no way trying to make you go vegetarian or vegan. I am simply telling you this story as a way to show that you can find help in unexpected places.

At the time, veganism wasn’t something that I was overwhelmingly interested in, but as I started to struggle more and more with unhealthy thoughts, I discovered the vegan YouTube community. There were countless girls that went through similar struggles to mine and that had found their ways back to happiness through their vegan diets. I watched so many videos in which people spoke about how they healed their mindsets by eating unrestricted, healthy, whole plant foods. The people in this community taught me that if you eat food in its natural form, you won’t have to worry about gaining weight no matter the amount.

After discovering the people that ran these channels (some of my favorite include applesandamandas, Naturally Stefanie, and Bonny Rebecca), I didn’t feel as alone anymore, so I started to implement their teachings. I discovered that it is much more important to be healthy than to be thin and that food is something I should love and appreciate, not fear. Although there are still times when I feel unhappy with my physical appearance, I can now easily talk myself out of the rut, because I know that I am fueling my body with healthy foods that make me happy and allow me to achieve my daily goals.

I hope that me sharing my story here can help someone who has or is struggling with a food related disorder. I want to let you know that you are most definitely not alone, that you will not be judged for seeking help in any way you can, and that you can find help in unexpected places.

Food has become a source of joy instead of dread for me now.

Food has become a source of joy instead of dread for me now.

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