An RD Confesses: "I Had Bulimia"
Living Through an Eating Disorder
Even now, at age 33, when I feel overwhelmed, I still eat too much or too little. Sometimes I think about weight loss, even though my weight is absolutely fine. With psychotherapy, I've learned to identify the emotion behind these thoughts: I'm not good enough, so I have to be better. And better means thinner in our culture. That's why emaciated girls sit in my office, desperate to lose even more weight. Thin people always feel good, they believe; since they're not happy, they must be fat. Telling their friends they feel unlovable would be pathetic and burdensome. So they say "I feel fat" instead, which is much more acceptable. The danger is that they eventually start to believe it.
It's been 11 years now since I bottomed out. In my practice, I use my experience to help women struggling with body-image issues to think more deeply about what's truly bothering them. Together, we experiment with different ways of eating -- varying meal schedules and nutrient balances and portion sizes -- to keep their bodies nourished. (Antidepressant medication and behavioral therapy are also effective treatments for some eating disorders.)
I do much the same for all my clients, whether they need to lose weight or just improve their health. And as I help them find their own perfectly imperfect eating plans, I continue to work on accepting my own. We all want a flawless body, but sacrificing ourselves to get there just isn't worth it.
Originally published in Fitness magazine, March 2006.
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