From Diet to Disorder

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From Diet to Disorder


Anonymous Drop Cap 1 do not have an eating disorder. I can’t classify myself under one of those scientific names that I learned in high school health class. I can’t be described on a medical website. Still, I know, how I feel about food isn’t healthy. I have disordered eating habits. Forms of disordered eating habits include binge eating, restrictive dieting, obsessive calorie counting, and skipping meals. Over the course of the year, I have dabbled in all of these.

According to Psychology Today, “50% of the population demonstrate problematic or disordered relationships with food, body, and exercise.” My struggle with my body took over my life, and I am still fighting to return to normal.

Growing up, I knew all about eating disorders and their consequences. In magazines and TV shows, we see them portrayed in the most extreme lighting: a girl throwing up after a big meal or fainting in class after not eating. I always thought that could never happen to me— I loved to eat! I actually wished for a few extra pounds since boys jokingly referred to me as “chicken legs” in high school.

When I came to college, I was exposed to all the delicious options that I wouldn’t normally have at home: bagels slathered in cream cheese, cherry pie, and chocolate chip pancakes, just to name a few. My family typically ate light, healthy meals and reserved dessert only for special occasions. The constant availability of food allowed me to eat even if I wasn’t really hungry. I would eat when I was stressed, bored, homesick, etc. I completely destroyed my sense of fullness. I thought my metabolism would burn it off, just like it did when I didn’t watch what I ate in high school.

Within the first semester of college, I had gained the freshman 15 and lost my ability to fit into any of my jeans. When I looked in the mirror I didn’t recognize myself. I wasn’t overweight, and I didn’t look “bad,” I just felt unhealthy.

Anonymous Fork and Knife

I became desperate to find a quick fix to control my eating. After a winter break of returning to my family’s nutritious eating, I came back vowing that I would be better this semester. I managed to maintain my weight through a strict diet during the school week. I refused to eat anything with cheese on it and required myself to only eat salads for lunch and dinner.

However, during the weekend, nights of binge drinking led to drunken binge eating. I gorged on whatever I could find laying around my dorm: Cinnamon Toast Crunch, leftover Insomnia Cookies, and even peanut butter straight from the jar. No food was safe when I came home hammered and hungry.

Rock bottom came during finals week when I went out for a farewell dinner at Copabanana. Feeling good about my conscientious choice of grilled salmon salad with dressing on the side, I indulged in a couple of drinks. When I arrived back to my dorm, my drunken eyes lit up when I saw the pile of junk food people left when cleaning out their rooms. I still don’t know if it was that deadly double margarita or the 1,000 calories worth of Red Velvet Oreos and Rolos, but I ended up with my head over the trashcan at 6 in the morning, sick from all that I had ingested.

When I left campus the next day, I knew I had to make major adjustments if I wanted to lose the weight and keep it off. I read online that calorie counting counting was an effective first step to figure out how many calories you were actually eating. After a few weeks of tediously counting (and underestimating) my calories in my head, I finally decided to download an app to keep me on track.

Health websites raved about MyFitnessPal, an app that allows you to search just about any food and record the calories. Slowly, I became addicted to it. I would plan out what I would eat days in advance to make sure I would stay within my dangerously low calorie limit. I became anxious when I ate at restaurants where I couldn’t track what I ate, but I lived for the thrill of weighing myself every Thursday morning, seeing how much weight I had dropped since last week.

Anonymous Pull Quote

I was constantly thinking about eating and the more I thought about food, the hungrier I would get. I would scroll through delicious food-stagrams while picking at my depressing meal of canned tuna and steamed vegetables. I fought through the hunger pangs. The pain is worth the gain, I thought.

When I finally hit my goal weight, I hit a wall. Where do I go from here? If I returned to my normal eating habits, I would just gain the weight back. If I continued to diet, I would just lose more weight. I slowly started to incorporate more food in my diet, but still feared foods that I deemed “unhealthy.”

I returned back to college terrified that I would fall back into bad habits. Classes, meetings, and my social life were enough to keep me busy, and it became easier to skip meals. My weight continued to drop, and I now weighed less than I ever did in high school. I could see my ribs in the mirror and felt weak after even a walk to class. Once again, I felt uncomfortable in my body.

Even though I am scared to see the scale go up, I know I can’t continue living like this. I am still counting my calories, but now it is to make sure I eat enough. Without accountability, I could go the whole day on a granola bar and an apple. I am slowly learning how to think less about how much I eat and think more about what I eat. The energy I would put towards constantly counting calories, I have exerted towards making sure I eat fruits, vegetables, and protein everyday.

I confess that I have a problem, and I know I am not the only one. It has become the norm to be proud of skipping dinner before a night out, or to run all day on coffee fumes. People think that because these habits don’t fall into the category of a recognized eating disorder, they are healthy and normal. We need to stop focusing on achieving the perfect weight or perfect body whatever means necessary and focus more on living a healthy lifestyle, filled with a balanced diet and exercise.


Images courtesy of Freepik and Here Comes the Sun


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