Have You Dared to Tell People About Your Eating Issues? [guest post]

Today, I’m happy to welcome back HealthyGirl.org reader and contributor Erica, with a guest post. Take it away, Erica! xo…Sunny

Have you been keeping your eating issues locked away as a secret? Do you think it's time to tell someone?

Hi, ladies—long time no talk! First, I have to say how wonderful it was to attend Sunny’s book release party for Food: The Good Girl’s Drug last month! I met two wonderful girls who were also interviewed for the book, Razieh and Trish. I then went home and read half the book that night, and finished it the following day. Thank you, Sunny, for this inspirational, truly insightful read…and for making me a part of it!

Aside from the HealthyGirl.org community, I would say I’ve told approximately 15 friends and family members about my struggles with binge eating disorder. But on February 23 of this year, I disclosed to all my Twitter followers and Facebook friends. You’re probably thinking, “What are you, nuts?” You see, I have a women’s lifestyle and happiness blog, and sometimes I like to share on Twitter and Facebook what the next day’s post will be about. It just happened to be National Eating Disorders Week from February 20-26, and I had written a post on eating disorders that included a glimpse into my personal experience with BED. I’m pretty sure it shocked a bunch of people because the next day my blog received the most views it had seen thus far.

Despite the fact that I’m typically an open book, if I were at the height of my eating disorder, I doubt that I would have been super excited to share my food and body image issues with the world. (Well, okay, about 600 people, but still.) Because I’ve considered myself to be “recovered” for about two years now, however, it felt easier to reveal one of my best-kept secrets to all these people. I wound up receiving a ton of praise from folks who saw these status updates, tweets and the post itself, telling me how brave I was for putting myself out there like that and how much they believed it would be a source of inspiration for those who could relate. I sure hoped it would be!

More recently, my experience with BED was shared with a way larger pool of people than just my friends and followers on social networking sites. My name, picture, and story were featured in an article about binge eating disorder in the April 2011 issue of Seventeen magazine! Once the mag hit newsstands, the health editor sent me Twitter and Facebook comments from young women saying how happy they were to learn that what they’re going through has a name, and more importantly that they can get better! The article gave them awareness, hope, and drive—what could be better than that?

So now many people know about my history with emotional overeating. I guess I was okay with opening up because I’ve never felt—and would never feel—ashamed (embarrassed maybe, but never ashamed) to share my personal struggles with others. The way I see it, everyone has their own issues, whether it’s an eating disorder, a problem with drugs or alcohol, history of abuse, etc. We each have our own thing, so I’m not concerned about whether or not people are judging me for mine.

Now by no means am I saying I think you must go out and scream from the rooftops that you have BED (unless you want to, of course…heck, make up a dance to go along with it if you’d like); what I am saying is that relinquishing a deep, dark secret can not only be beneficial to our peace of mind, but you also never know who else you may help by opening up. Just think of what Sunny’s done for all of us by providing us with this blog, and now the book! It takes some courage, but I’ve found that revealing that you’re (gasp!) not perfect, can literally be a lifesaver.

Thanks for contributing, Erica! Now, how many family, friends (or strangers) know about your struggles with weight and food? Did opening up help you let go of some shame? xo…Sunny

[photo: marcmo]

10 Responses to Have You Dared to Tell People About Your Eating Issues? [guest post]

  1. Trish says:

    ERICA!! So glad to see you posting again! In regards to your post - I’ve tried telling people about my BED, but they just don’t seem to understand. I’ve tried telling my mom, my sister, my boyfriend, etc and no one seems to grasp it. The only people I can say I feel comfortable discussing my BED with are other people who have BED. Every time I’ve tried talking to other people, their immediate reaction is: “well, why don’t you just STOP?” They don’t realize that it’s not as easy as putting down the spoon and putting away the ice cream. And while it hurts me that they don’t understand where I’m coming from, I also am happy that they don’t. The fact that they cannot grasp the concept of BED means that they have no experienced it themselves, and I would never wish this disorder on anyone. So, I’ve found my reprieve with the people I’ve met through HealthyGirl/Sunny (including you!)…and I’m okay with that.. :)

    • Erica says:

      Trish, how have you been, girl?? =)

      I totally agree-wouldn’t wish BED on my worst enemy. When I first told family members and close friends, I tried to explain to them that “putting away the ice cream” so to speak was WAY easier said than done for a person with BED. I gave them links to sites that put info about the disorder in plain english so that they could have a better understanding of what it’s about, and just how (unfortunately) popular it is.

      I also explained what I needed from them, which was to lend an ear, to keep my trigger foods out of the house, etc. Honestly, as long as you talk to people who care about you, they don’t really have to fully understand (like you said, they can’t if they’ve never gone through it)-they just need to be supportive and nonjudgemental.


  2. Ashanti says:

    The only people I’ve told was a classmate and my mother. My classmate and I had this long discussion and we still talk now. When I told my mother, at first she was like why didn’t you tell me and I knew that she felt guilty and we still haven’t be able to really talk about it without me crying my eyes out before I could finish. So I soon shown her this site and she’s reading Sunny’s book and hopefully the dialogue will open up and we’ll be able to talk about it.

    • Erica says:

      Hey Ashanti! Good for you for opening up to your classmate and your mom about your food struggles. I know it takes a LOT of guts, and you should be so proud of yourself for taking that big step! And I do think showing your mom this site and having her read Sunny’s book will be a MONUMENTAL step forward in your recovery process, and even your relationship with her. She’ll know how to be there for you, you’ll feel comforted by having a mom who cares, and your mother/daughter bond will surely deepen. It’s a win-win 100%. =)

      Best of luck towards a healthy and happy recovery! I know you’ll be sharing your success story with us before you know it! 😉


  3. Sylvia says:

    I never dared to tell anyone… I wanted to tell my ex-boyfriend but I never had the courage. Now I have a boyfriend again and we were friends before we started dating and he always says I can tell him anything but I still can’t. I know he loves me more that anything but I’m afraid he will never think of me the same way - I’m a smart girl and I’ve always though smart girls don’t have eating disorders because they know enough to fight them. I have only confessed my BED in a couple of websites (one in my home country - there no one talks about BED and the girls who read my post said I was just nuts and foolish and what I was doing is caused by my lack of willpower). I am afraid my boyfriend will think the same things the girls in the website said.

  4. Helena says:

    I was a pretty full-on binge-eating bulimic for years as a teenager. I recovered and was ED-free for 5 years, and I started talking about it to friends (probably because I was sure it was gone for good). Last year I started dieting and exercising to lose weight and now I’m obsessing again - leading to perfectionise eating, binges, guilt and occasional purges :( I talk to my very lovely long-distance boyfriend about it a lot (we’re moving in together in September), but I’m so frightened that I’ll bore or disgust him. He clearly sees that I’m in pain and does a very good job of cheering me up, and often succeeds in calming me down and making me feel less guilty when I admit to overeating. I’m worried about co-habiting though: he’s very healthy but likes a biscuit or two in the evening. Let’s just hope I can follow his lead and become a little more balanced in my thinking… I need to stop being so all-or-nothing! Great site, btw.

  5. Wow…this really struck me “the way I see it everyone has their own issues”. That gives me hope…

    But, still, I feel the binging is something more shameful and embarrasing because of how it can change your appearance and binging on chocolate midnight every night - when you not hungry the least…just makes me feel awful.

  6. Zoe says:

    My friends and the members of my coven- the Wiccan name for people who pray together, yes, I’m Wiccan- all know about my eating disorder. Well, my close friends do. I’ve explained it to both my parents, but they don’t really get it. Certain people have heard through the grapevine about my eating disorder, and quite frankly, I don’t care. Everyone already knows that I’ve been at least a little overweight since childhood- it’s no big secret, especially since i’ve been going to school with the same people since kindergarten. If asked, I’ll say “yes,, I do have binge eating disorder”. I realy don’t care if people judge me on it.

  7. Kristen says:

    There are many days when I wish I could tell everyone, but I’m a pretty private person to start off with. I’ve thought about starting a blog, but fear of judgment or fear of not being able to communicate clearly what I’m trying to say keeps me from doing so.
    Another reason I hold back is because there have been two occasions when I’ve opened up about my struggles with depression and E.D and instead of being met with compassion, there have been jokes made and down play of how serious this actually is by the other person. So needless to say, my lips are fairly sealed. However, reading this and other posts on this site gives me hope that I will one day be able to open up to people without feeling shame, because the shame for me is very real.
    Thank you for this :)

  8. Tara says:

    So I’m new to the site- working my way through Sunny’s book while I’m doing DBT therapy to get BED in check. I have told a few people- my husband of course, my parents who seem to forget and I have to re-tell them, and then our ‘lifegroup’ through the church we were going to but have since de facto stopped. That group was hard to talk to. We are supposed to “live life together” and I waited months before telling them, but when I did it was just awkward and quiet. And now, months later, there’s never any acknowledgement. I would love it if someone asked while we were at coffee said something about “how are you feeling? Is therapy still going well for you?” but it’s just awkward silence.

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.