Eating Disorders

Dot here, I'm a trainee sports therapist, longtime runner, and recently qualified nutritionist (just started study sports nutrition & eating disorders).

I have to confess that I was completely unaware how many athletes there are out there with ED's, and have to take my hat off to anyone who is not only able to admit they have a problem but has the confidence to write into the RW forum - surely that is a major step towards the road to recovery.


  • Dot I thought the link between exercise, ED's and body image was sort of well known but how much actual research has there been done on this and how much is it based on heresay rather than hard evidence.
  • From my own view...I don't think its possible to ever fully recover from and's always there - waiting to get at you
  • I agree with Shattered Shins. I don't believe it'll ever go away. Frankly, I'm not sure that I want it to go away completely. Its how I cope with stressful safety net.

    What bothers me alot is that its still a taboo subject. I've tried talking to people about it but they don't know what to say. It seems to be akin to admitting you're an axe murderer! People don't want to know. Not even on these forums. I expect their are a large number of people on these forums who suffer from an ED but are too scared to admit it because they are worried about everyone else's reaction. The problem of course being that this merely enhances the feelings of self disgust and makes you feel more than ever before that and an ED is something to be ashamed of.
  • Well, I am certainly no expert on the subject but do know that the best way to deal with a problem is to talk about it - maybe people who don't truely understand EDs and are frightened to admit it are the ones with the problem. EDs are nothing to be ashamed of, we all deal with stress and problems in our way.
  • I've seen quite a few posts on here from people with EDs that have got decent responses.
  • Maybe I was just unlucky, but I still believe that generally people don't want to know or perhaps they prefer not to say anything for fear of saying the wrong thing.

    I am well now but only because I made myself seek professional help and found a fantastic counsellor.
  • I don't think I have an 'active' ED at the moment. Will always be around as potential though. & mental health still carp. But running gives me something different to value myself for, & a reason to stay well. Still, I have used it self-destructively in the past, & occasionally still do, though now the running compulsion isn't about calories, more about the way it is an escape - maybe a different sort of addictive biochemistry?
  • Hi Dot,

    I agree with Nikki and Shins - it never goes away. You just learn to live with it (or live around it). Neither you nor the demon can win outright, so you meet somewhere in the middle.

    Ten years ago in my early 20s I dropped nearly half my bodyweight inside a year and was pretty grotesque. People who knew me asked me if I had cancer and AIDS. Hmm, tactful.

    I simply could not eat without feeling as though I was committing the gravest sin on earth. Everything I did was at my demon's bidding. I knew I looked awful, and I barely had the strength to walk (this lasted four years at its worst) but the desire to look and feel healthier was choked by the demon.

    On a slightly more rational/conscious level I was afraid that if I started to eat a little bit more, I wouldn't be able to stop.

    That was true in part. When I did start eating more, I put on weight extremely quickly and was soon a fair bit heavier than I'd been before the problem began (super-short and never skinny, just normal). I never puked; I've simply got no gag reflex.

    Now, six years after I first started to beat the a------- demon, my weight is low to normal for my height, and my diet is healthy, but ... there's always a "but". I'm always wanting to eat. It's a psychological by-product that just stays with you forever, and you have to learn to control it.

    God knows what I've done to my health in the long-term, but I seem to be OK. I'm not interested in having children. I've been on the pill for years, so I don't know whether I'd have periods naturally (I don't think I would, to be honest). What I do know is that I will always feel guilty about eating.

    Which brings me to running, and what a gift it's been for me. I wish I'd discovered it a decade ago (not that I would have got very far). For the first time in as long as I can remember, food is good, it's fuel, it helps me reach a goal.

    It's not *quite* a ceasefire with my demon, but hostilities have definitely waned.

    One unfortunate footnote is that I strained a muscle in my ankle a couple of weeks ago and have been off running for a fortnight. It's been pretty hard, not least because I'm back to feeling guilty about food, though that hasn't stopped me eating well. I survived at a healthy weight for four years between the end of my ED and the time I started running, so a few weeks out of action is not going to send me back into bonesville. But GOD I'm looking forward to getting out there again and eating my porridge with impunity!

    Gotta get back to work now, but couldn't resist having a babble. There's an awful lot to say.

    Best wishes to everyone who reads this thread.

    Pixie xx
  • Thanks said it all so much better than I could!! :) I guess I haven't been in recovery as long as you and I still have a tendancy to put the barriers up and become self protective.

    I was very interested to read that you feel like you always want to eat. I've been like that too and it really gets me down some days. But your message was really inspirational and I'll keep fighting with everything I've got.

    All the very best to you and I hope you are back running soon.
  • Pixie -

    You're spot on with everything you say

  • Good girl Pixie

    Im not anorexic, but you describe that food relationship so well

    you live with it
    it never completely goes away

    good luck to you
  • I agree Pixie - thank you for expressing it so well. I used to suffer from an eating disorder as well as some other mental health issues, and you are right that the eating guilt never goes away even if we are now running for other, more positive reasons.
  • Excellent explanation e17. Like Benz (Hippo), I've never been anorexic, but I most definitely have some issues around food, and what you've posted rings very true! Well done for keeping on the right track.
  • I'm so glad you could all relate to what I said, because that gives me a huge boost, too. I find real comfort in writing about the whole issue, though I'm not mad keen on talking about it. That said, I can talk my way out of anything: which is why I was never sectioned as an inpatient (being 23 also helped... I think they're more reluctant to lock up "adult" sufferers). I'm very grateful that I was left to recover under my own steam, because it's only by maintaining some control and autonomy that you can start to get better without feeling that you've failed.

    Best wishes everyone
  • I'm having a nightmare with food at the minute and have been wondering if anyone has read Christopher Fairburns book? and what anyone thought of it? I've read Gillian Rileys and think it's pretty good but am still struggling. How do you know when you're normal? I'm eating, I crave more sometimes, sometimes I have it, sometimes I don't - aren't normal people this way as well?
  • Hi

    Pleased that someone is discussing these things considering all the weightloss articles that are on this site!!!

    I refuse to believe that you can't get over it. It is a long process of discovery (naff I know sorry) and the mistake is to put a time line on it all. It is about being brave enough to accept yourself and then having the dedication to recover (I think the Penguin's article is also relevant for EDs).

    I have read every book going and while they all have something to contribute at the end of the day you need to learn to trust yourself and your body.

    It does take a long time but you can do it, just don't give up on yourselves please.

  • Les

    please believe me you arent alone

    this affects up to 50% of women in different ways
    and a lot of them are "normal" weight
    It hides a whole cycle of bingeing/excess exercise/laxy abuse and so on

    youd be surprised
  • I've learn't something about myself this week, apparently I have an ED - fear of obesity. I really thought my Nutrition lecturer was taking the micky when he said that it really is an ED. But he is right, I do have a fear of it - I train to eat, but I've only truely realised it since talking to you guys.

    I binge on chocolate and sweet things, then hide the evidence from everyone else. Feel annoyed with myself for doing it and then go out and run to get rid of it.

    I guess it is more common than I initially realised.
  • you epitomise what i have just said

    i wa like that
    im now badly overwieght but fit

    and i think my head is in a better state
    this site does make me worse sometimes though
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