LET'S TALK ... EATING DISORDERS
CW: eating disorders, anorexia, binge eating, bulimia
So many of you reached out to me while you were reading The Husband Game to tell me how much you loved reading Charlie’s story and his struggles with anorexia. Many of you told me of your own stories of disorder eating.
Like you, like Charlie, I struggle too.
In my case, it isn’t anorexia. It’s binge eating.
Two years ago, I would have been too ashamed to talk about it. When I wrote Unwritten Rules and Charlie first appeared, I knew I’d tell Charlie’s story but I had no plans to tell my own.
But Charlie’s journey and mine were more intertwined than I realized.
In many ways, my struggles with food come from a very different place than Charlie’s.
I love food. I love preparing it. I love eating it. I love the way it makes me feel.
But like Charlie, it wasn’t always something I had an easy relationship with.
My breaking point wasn’t nearly as dramatic as Charlie’s. There was certainly no Olympic medal and I didn’t end up hospitalized.
I was working a day job and writing full time. I was in an unhappy marriage and exhausted and struggling to cope. I felt out of control in my own life. And food made me feel better. It was a coping mechanism.
I’d eat until my stomach hurt. I’d eat until I felt sick, then eat more.
I never purged but I thought about it. Honestly, if I had longer fingers and a touchier gag reflex, I might have, despite the risks.
Instead, I ate. And I ate. And I felt worse and worse.
And then, I decided to raze my life to the ground and start from scratch.
I ended my marriage. I quit my day job. I decided to write full-time. And I told myself it was time to get my eating under control.
I read a lot. I saw a therapist. I tried to root out all of the possible causes for the binge eating. I tried to find all of the triggers.
I learned more about intuitive eating. I developed a healthier relationship with exercise.
I stopped dieting. I did a lot of work to improve my body image and my relationship with food.
And yet, sometimes, I slipped up. And I was filled with shame every time I binged.
Better, but still struggling. And I didn’t know why.
My ADHD diagnosis was a game-changer for me.
Learning that binge eating disorder is very common in people with ADHD was huge.
There are multiple reasons for it.
People with ADHD are constantly seeking the dopamine we naturally lack and food is a quick, easy source of it.
We’re more likely to be impulsive and have a harder time reading our body cues and emotional states.
We can become hyper-focused on what we’re doing and forget to eat for hours, which leads to eating too much when we do have food in front of us.
We’re more likely to eat with too many distractions around us and struggle with stress and anxiety.
So many of these rang true for me.
And many of the answers I’d been searching for clicked into place.
I finally understood why no matter how hard I tried to control how much I ate, I struggled.
There are other factors, of course. Society and diet culture. The way so many of us are raised.
Knowing has been incredible for me.
Do I still have days where I struggle? Definitely.
Do I have work still to do? Absolutely.
But like Charlie, I’m taking it one day at a time.
“I’m never going to magically be cured, Taylor.”
He winced. “I know.”
“I mean, I wish there was a magic fix for an eating disorder but there isn’t. Only continuing to work at it. And I hope someday I can be at peace with food and my body but that doesn’t mean the disorder will be gone. Not completely. I will always need to be aware of it. But this setback was better than the last one. And that one was better than the time before that. I’m not failing again. I’m making progress.”
Several of the resources I found helpful in my own journey can be found here: