Evolution of an Eating Disorder


Today was a get stuff done but feel like you did absolutely nothing day. I read a little, dyed my hair, took a bunch of photos of my jewelry and other creations to start to sell them online (I'll let you know when they're available...help support ED Bites in your own little way), ate a plateful of sweet potatoes. And so on. I am now ready to just topple over.

I realized, vaguely, how much I still think and speak in "anorexic". It's kind of like I still evaluate all of the food on my plate in terms of calories and type of food (protein/carb/fat). There's still the kind of good food/bad food mentality as well. How could one go wrong with the virtuous apple? Or saintly celery stick? Yet I look at cheesecake, and I immediately think "induglence...selfish...guilt...greed."

These messages have, no doubt, been amplified by my eating disorder. Indeed, the whole evaluating everything based on caloric content has been my entire modus opperandi for the past seven or so years. Strangely, it wasn't until I went away to college that this really started. In my family, my dad's idea of a diet is eating two cookies after dinner instead of three (and what a wonderful tasty tidbit that is, my friends!). I knew what dieting was, and I certainly had given it the good ol' college- er, high school- try. Maybe I was naive. None of my friends dieted, and we were all such nerds that we had long since given up on finding a date.

College, however, was a different story. While none of my close friends overtly dieted, there was a general atmosphere of "healthy eating," which basically meant diet soda and no desserts. Period. Chocolate cake was anathema, though given the quality of cake in the cafeteria, it wasn't hard to see why. I started off exercising, just to be healthy. To relieve stress. And at first, in moderate amounts, it worked. It really did. I didn't stick to one exercise (jogging one day, swimming another, one of the machines the next, and so on) and I didn't force myself to work out every single day. Soon, however, I found myself under so much stress and exercise worked really well. I could fixate on it, and the endorphins really did place my stress at a manageable level. Then the exercise got out of control. Indeed, new research has said that compulsive exercise is a type of culture-bound OCD. And considering that OCD is a huuuuuuuge, gigundo factor in my eating disorder, well, you can connect the dots.

What irritates me is that people have lost their thresholds for a healthy amount of exercise and food intake (all lettuce all the time is virtuous, not sick), as well as a normal, healthy body weight and shape. Even though a BMI between 25 and 30 is considered "overweight" by the powers that be, it's actually associated with the lowest risk for premature death. I'm all for nutrition and healthy movement, but why is the weight loss aspects of these emphasized so much over the true health benefits (healthy hair, increased energy, etc)? And why are we told to be so freaking afraid of an actual healthy weight? So many people are freaked out with a BMI between 25 and 30, when they actually might be healthier than so-called "normal weight" people.

It's a self-fulfilling prophecy: be afraid of fat, eat low fat foods, gain weight.

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Ryanryan said...

hey carrie!

i guess i bought into the good/bad food message too. at 1st, a little bad food is ok. then, as my ED progressed, NONE of them. and the good food get reduced and chipped away by each day




Ah yes, the glorious irony of eating disorders. I guess what bugged me is how long and far this food restriction could go on without people becoming alarmed. I would bring the strangest stuff to work (not my present job, a virology laboratory) and people were all "oh good for you." Even up to the day or two before I was hospitalized. Duh!


mary said...

Okay, what color is your hair? I dyed eggs, not touching the hair.
You are going to get to a point where you are doing so well that you'll be able to find balance. Perhaps walking, but with LIMITS, and eating to fuel yourself will be the next phase.
You know you have a bunch of us to lean on! If the ED tugs don't be afraid to tell on it.
I can't wait to see your creations! I've got to get busy...but first finish the evil taxes.



I dye my hair the same color- I'm nearly 1/4 gray and a little paranoid. I'm lucky though because it mostly looks like blonde streaks because I have reddish hair.

Though I did consider a purple streak. Very briefly.

Redheads look good in purple!! C'mon now. Instead I just pierced my nose. My mom hates to admit it but it's growing on her. It's a cute little teeny-tiny silver star, barely 2mm across. Though I suppose this is a little more permanent that purple hair, but whatever.

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About Me

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at carrie@edbites.com

nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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