When Loved Ones Can’t Understand Your Eating Disorder

When I first told my mom about the eating disorder, she seemed to continually ask the wrong questions and make the wrong suggestions (“Well let’s step on the scale to see where you’re at!” and, “But did you throw up all your food?”). It’s tough to get off to a good start when someone hasn’t experienced an eating disorder. My dad probably had one of the most difficult times trying to break it apart.

“How can you physically keep stuffing in more and more food?” he asked one night when we had agreed to sit down to talk. “I mean, I get to the point where enough is enough in one meal.”

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Hungry to Speak

You ask me why I eat in secret.

I wish you couldn’t see me eat. I wonder how much you think about what I eat. I decide what I will eat next to make it look like I am not eating too much. I wait until it is noisy enough in the room so that you may not notice how much I am eating when I grab more food.

I sit there acting like nothing is wrong because I don’t want you to notice I am screaming inside. I don’t want you to know how embarrassing this is for me.

You ask why I can’t have more self-control. I tell you, it is because I used to have all the control in the world.

You ask me why I take food out of the trash. I tell you, it is because I used to spit my food into it.

You ask me why you find food wrappers, empty cans of vegetables in strange places around the house. I tell you, it is because I pushed food away for so long–and now there is a shaking, anxious girl inside of me that is terrified she will never have enough.

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Self Worth: How Have I Learned to Love Myself More?

Q: Self worth – How have you learned to love yourself more?

I believe that self exploration helps us to find our self worth. Without knowing ourselves on a deeper level, we can’t learn to appreciate who we are.

I thought that after admitting to my mom that I had an unhealthy relationship with food, everything would improve. I thought I had gotten it all out, that I would just move on and lose weight again, get back on track, and try to forget all the bingeing that had been a result of restricting for so long.

Not exactly.

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Doesn’t Every Woman Have An Eating Disorder?

It’s amazing how many of us are obsessed about our weight. This does not, of course, exclude men (men getting eating disorders, too), but it seems typical–almost normal–to see nearly every woman out there on a diet, attempting to lose weight, or at least never feeling satisfied with their body. It’s an unfortunate truth, and it’s a big problem in our society. With all the fat-shaming, and especially a bias against women (see just one of many articles about the subject here), it makes eating disorders that much more common.

We can’t just blame the media, either. Eating disorders are not caused by the media, but media images/pressure can act as a ‘trigger’ to someone who may be predisposed to developing an eating disorder. It wasn’t like one day I looked at a skinny woman on a magazine and thought, I want to be skinny as her, and developed the eating disorder.

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Why Did I Attempt a Raw Food Diet as a Runner?

One of the biggest questions asked was why I felt the need to do the raw food diet. For those of you who think it is the most strange, absurd decision anyone could make, for someone who was battling an eating disorder, it might make “a lot of sense.” It all depends on perspective, what is important to us, and who we are as people. Nutrition happens to be important to me. It has always been a large focus in my life, probably because I had a focus on health as a runner since the age of five. Since my obsession with weight had escalated (to the point where I felt mostly food and weight mattered in making me a better runner) I went into the raw food diet thinking it would help my relationship with food, not hurt it.

running at houseman

I’ve been running for a LONG time :) 

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“It Is What It Is” and Second Chances

I am still racing in college–in fact, after coming out about my eating disorder and starting this blog, I am only halfway through my college career. I have two more years!

At this point I see the final two years of college as a second chance–a second chance to compete for my team, to continue letting go of Rawchael (while remembering her too, for she has made me into the stronger person I am today) and to continue to become the best Rachael I can be.

A second chance to be able to live the college life free from (or at least lessened by) the burden of anxiety with food. I can’t believe I’ve been consumed with all of this for nearly four years now . . . and that’s often a short span of time for those with eating disorders. Through research I learned it can last ten years to a lifetime in some cases. And it seems early intervention is the key to recovery. In a way, trying a raw food diet forced me into getting help. But it still took a long time. Once I did receive more help, I saw that writing, analyzing myself, and getting the support and help from friends and family (i.e., talking a lot) sped things up.

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Raw Food Journal 5: Racing Raw

April 16, 2011

I ran the 1500m and the 800m today. My races were pitiful to say the least.

I felt drained. I don’t think it’s from the food–I’ve gotten very little sleep throughout the week, I stood for hours in the cold Thursday night at the high school track meet, I’ve been stressed with projects and homework, and I’ve increased my mileage quickly on top of cross training.

It was cold, windy, and rainy outside—nothing too surprising for spring in Michigan. But the weather reflected my mood and my day–which was just as miserable as my eating habits.

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