When people hear the words "eating disorder" they most often think of either Anorexia or Bulimia. What people often fail to realize is that those are not the only types of eating disorders out there and that millions of people suffer from an eating disorder. Stigmas with eating disorders exist that make people believe people choose to have an eating disorder, and that people with eating disorders are only women, most often under the age of 30. We need to break the stigmas. Over 30 million men and women suffer from eating disorders worldwide. Eating disorders affect twice as many women as men, and I am one of those twenty million women in the world suffering from an eating disorder. I also fit into the perfect stigma behind having an eating disorder; I’m a stressed out college student, a woman, and under the age of 30.
For those that do not know, binge eating disorder is another type of eating disorder where people will not eat for a while then they will indulge themselves in a lot of food at once trying to compensate. It's a struggle, not only physically but mentally. Every day having to ask yourself if you're hungry or just bored, or if you can afford to eat that second serving of mashed potatoes, is exhausting. More often than not I eat alone because eating in front of others makes me nervous and want to explain myself to them whenever I eat more than I think the average woman my age should eat. People also assume that if you're overweight you just cannot control yourself when it comes to food, and that statement is completely false. Me not having control over my thoughts or actions regarding food stems back to my mentality and control over the eating disorder that plagues me every day.
I've tried numerous weight loss programs including weight watchers and counting calories every day. I've been on several medications to "reduce my appetite", some of which have worked and others which have not. When I'm home from college, I go to therapy for my eating disorder and to try to figure out the thoughts behind some of my actions. It's tough, I won't lie. At my therapy appointments, I see a nurse practitioner that tracks my health progress, whether my habits are hurting or benefiting me, and what I can do in the future to make my life better. I'm told time and time again to "eat every 2 to 4 hours" and "make sure to eat a snack in between meals" but when you're in school and stressed out about other things, it tends to slip your mind.
I’m here to prove that we can break the stigmas. I can assure you that someone you know most likely has an eating disorder, whether they hide it or are public about it, or whether they are male or female. Recently, Zayn Malik (previously a member of One Direction) came forward about his struggles with having an eating disorder. He stated that although he was not formally diagnosed, he had times where eating was not the most important thing to him, and the consequences he faced following the choices he made about eating. He goes more into depth in his new book coming out, but Zayn is just more proof that the sigmas with eating disorders are ridiculous.
I’ve been the overweight girl most of my life, partially due to my choices of food consumption over the years. It’s easier for someone with an eating disorder to grab comfort food over something more practical. This isn’t just to make excuses, but to say that eating disorders affect your mentality and can cause you to make irrational decisions. I regret a lot of the decisions I have made in my life, but they have made me who I am today, and for that I wouldn’t take back how I’ve gotten to where I am. Do I wish I was skinnier than I am? Yes. Everyone has thoughts like this; but the way I see it is that my curves make me, me. Eating disorders cause a lot of overthinking, especially regarding the "What-if's". This eating disorder does not define me. Let’s break the stigmas with eating disorders, support one another during hard times, and reward yourself for little things you do that you may not have originally thought you could do.
“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – A. A. Milne