What is Your Weight, Food, and Body History Like? [HealthyGirl BookClub]

Gooooo book club!

Today’s the first day of the HealthyGirl.org BookClub featuring on my book, Food: The Good Girl’s Drug! For those of you who haven’t had a chance to get a copy (or don’t want to—hey, that’s OK), you can read most of the first chapter in these excerpts here, here and here. Just to recap, each Friday for the next several weeks, I’m going to choose one section, exercise, or journaling question from the book to focus on in the BookClub post. (If you have been reading the book and have any suggestions for particular sections or topics you’d like me to discuss here, please leave a comment or email me!)

So, at the end of each chapter of the book, I or an expert give a few journaling questions for readers to tackle. My book is a pretty easy read for people who relate—I’ve had girls and women tell me that they read it three times in a week!—but it was never meant just to be read. The journaling questions and exercises throughout the book are meant to help you process everything you’re reading. To give it a chance to soak in, to make a difference. Not very many of us can learn, and change our behaviors, simply by passively taking in information.

I know I couldn’t. So I really encourage all of you who are reading along to take the time (OK, maybe on your second read if you must get through it quickly the first time) to stop and do the work. Buy a special journal or notebook that goes along with the book. Treat it like a workbook. If you’re going to invest the $15 (or $8, I think, if you bought it on Amazon!), make it worth it.

OK, enough of me admonishing you to take out your pens and paper—let’s get right to one of the exercises at the end of Chapter 1: Recording your food, weight, and body history. For me, taking a good long look at my patterns with those things was an important step in recovering from binge eating. A quick rundown of my weight and body history:

Childhood: Healthy weight, a solidly built girl. Mom thought I was borderline chunky and at risk of getting “fat”—fear about fat and food started creeping in around 7 or 8
Age 15: Started bingeing occasionally to soothe myself during parents’ divorce; still at a healthy weight
Age 16: Started putting on pounds—partly naturally, just filling out into a more womanly shape, but also because of increased binge eating
Age 19: Was officially “overweight” for my height and body shape from bingeing. Lost 20 pounds on a terrible high-protein doctor-supervised diet.
Age 20: Transferred to a four-year college from my community college; got married (long story! It didn’t last long. Let me know if you want to hear about it sometime. :)) Gained all the weight back, plus some. Intermittently dieted or fasted.
Age 22: Became clinically obese due to almost daily binge eating. Weight peaked at the heaviest I’d ever been, but I continued to try to “diet,” and took herbal diet pills almost daily—which landed me in the doctor’s office with racing heartbeat and high blood pressure at one point.
Age 23: Dropped 40 to 50 pounds during divorce process, mostly from natural anxious energy. Continued to diet or fast to try to offset the effects of the frequent-but not daily-bingeing.
Age 25: Moved to New York City after college. Again became “overweight” for my body frame due to bingeing. But began therapy and started to worry a little less about my weight so much and focus more on my issues and my happiness.
Age 27: Momentary loss of reason, went on Jenny Craig and lost 20 pounds. Gained it all back. Binge eating worsened after the diet.

Now, looking at my history up to this point helped solidify for me that I really wasn’t in control of my eating, and that nothing I had been trying to do (a.k.a. dieting, fasting, taking pills, or simply willing myself to stop overeating) was working. It finally clicked for me. I got it. What I was dealing with really wasn’t about weight or food—at all. It was all about me and how I treated myself, how I felt about myself, and what emotional needs I was trying to fill. Now, for the rest of the history:

Age 27.5: Realized that DIETING was part of my binge eating problem and that I was more important than my weight. I didn’t care if I ever lost another pound again. Quit dieting completely and continued therapy. Binge eating slowed more. Trained for and jogged the New York marathon!
Age 28: Binge eating slowed to a trickle. Weight stabilized at a point that was officially “slightly overweight” for my height, but I truly felt fine about my health and my shape. Continued therapy.
Age 29: Weight was stable. But I wanted binge eating to STOP completely; started going to a weekly support group in addition to therapy.
Very early 30s: Was completely recovered from binge eating. Very gradually let go of some more weight after the bingeing ended and stabilized at a very reasonable, comfortable, and healthy set point for my height and shape.

Now it’s your turn: What’s your weight, food, and body history? Did you yo-yo like me, dieting and bingeing, weight swinging from year to year? Or have you been “overweight” since childhood? (I use “overweight” in quotes because the definition is highly debatable, and there is so much natural variation in body shapes.) Or, have you always been slim despite your binge eating? What can you learn about your patterns and your relationship with food and your body from looking at your history? xo…Sunny

Next Friday’s BookClub: How do you describe your issues with food?

[bookbag photo via Coco Mault]


22 Responses to What is Your Weight, Food, and Body History Like? [HealthyGirl BookClub]

  1. Emily says:

    I like the way you broke your age history down, so here’s mine:

    Age 10: Hit puberty WAY earlier than all my friends. Gained a lot of weight, but didn’t realize it was normal. This is when I believe I started feeling poorly about my body image. I started overeating out of boredom and sadness, and also developed food anxiety that landed me in the emergency room several times.

    Age 13: Started playing competitive softball, which kept me in very good shape. I was also running track and playing volleyball at school. Binge eating late at night and sneaking food into my room was in full swing by now, but I didn’t gain weight due to my high physical activity.

    Age 16: Quit softball to pursue other interests. Still bingeing heavily, dealing with anxiety and depression issues, and hating my body. At 5’5” and 130 pounds, I can’t believe I EVER thought I was fat at this point!

    Age 18: Graduating high school. I’ve put on about 25 pounds because the sports don’t keep my bingeing weight off anymore.

    Age 19: Finally realize that my binge eating is a problem. I now weigh about 165 pounds, which is uncomfortably large for my liking. I still struggle with major body image issues, but I hope that therapy over the summer will help me to sort through my muddled emotional process.

    Your book has helped me so much! While I haven’t started tackling the big issues yet, (with final exams, I didn’t want to dig too deep into the emotional stuff just yet) I already feel more sane about food. The long summer at home will be a challenge, but I’m hoping that learning to cook and savoring each meal will help me take pride in what I eat rather than just reaching for a box of super processed junky chips. I’ve also reached out to a friend with anorexia, and we get together and talk about ED and life in general. It makes me feel so much more supported! Thanks for helping me get help, Sunny.

  2. Alexandra says:

    As much as I hate to say it, and as much as I am trying, I’m still in the cycle. I am 14 years old, and I have been obsessed with my weight for almost as long as I can remember.

    Age 4: My parents were going through a divorce, and I refused to eat so they would pay attention to me. The experience seemed to instill in my head: “Hey, the skinnier you are, the more attention and love you’ll get!”

    Age 9: I had a friend, who was a boy, that was skinnier than me, which was perfectly normal, but at the time, I felt like I needed to “match” him. I stopped eating and exercised until I would nearly faint.

    Age 10: In fifth grade, my mom was going through another divorce. I stopped eating again, and was sent to Brentwood Psychiactric Hospital for a month. After that, I was encouraged to eat as much as I could. It felt good, and I became addicted.

    Age 12: Having gained up to 120 lbs. (which wasn’t absolutely horrible, me being 5’3 at the time) I really started to HATE myself. I couldn’t look in the mirror without feeling utter disgust. I stopped eating again and joined the swim team.

    Age 13: I got down to 94 lbs at 5’6. I knew DEEP DOWN that I was killing myself, so I ate large amounts (which really don’t seem large anymore, considering a binge now…) of food to keep myself from dying. That got to be addicting.

    Age 14 (present): And now I’m stuck. I binge and then starve again. lately, it’s been better, but I can’t ever seem to stop! I’m about 5″6 1/2 and 104 lbs, which is still thin enough, but I don’t want to get fat! I can’t stand myself anymore. I want to get over this and LIVE!!!!! I can’t go a minute without thinking of food or weight or something like that. And this will eventually kill me. That’s what’s so disgusting to me. It’s like I’m an alcoholic, killing myself slowly. I don’t want to tell anyone I know, because I’m so ashamed. I’m supposed to be so strong. I’m top in my class, with a full scholarship to a math and science school for next fall, I’m a cross-country runner, and I’ve had a history for being stubborn. I could care less about my reputation, but my mom doesn’t even know. I wish there was just somebody. I know I need to tell, but she’ll think less of me if I do, and I couldn’t bear for her to be disappointed or shocked. Thank you for creating this site. I read about it in All You magazine, and decided this could be hope. Sorry to just explode all this on everybody. :)

    • Sunny says:

      You’re right-you do need to tell someone. A lot of us who’ve faced disordered eating are very much like you: strong, successful, top of our class, and we think we SHOULD be able to deal with this “silly” food thing on our own. But most of us can’t, especially when it starts so, so young. I know it probably seems as if your mom will feel disappointed if you tell her that you’re not “perfect” and that you have a true problem with eating, but I can almost guarantee that she won’t. Our parents want us to be happy and healthy. But they can’t help us if they don’t know what’s going on. I told my mom when I was about 16-I was scared, too. I thought she was going to tell me that I was weak and just needed to diet. But she didn’t. She made me an appointment with a counselor. And it helped. xo…Sunny

  3. Olivia says:

    I haven’t bought the book yet (I do plan on it soon!), but I think this is a good exercise anyway. I feel like my history is gonna be long though, even if I only just turned 19.. I’ve been up and down so many times, it’s ridiculous..
    Childhood- I was chubby. Probably only slightly overweight by medical standards, but I did get teased by peers and had family members comment on my weight.
    12-13- I naturally slimmed out a bit, went into a normal weight range, but still found myself fat. Also still ate for comfort, although I wouldn’t consider it bingeing.
    14- Went on a ‘diet’ consisting of skipping all meals except dinner, which my parents forced me to eat. Became completely obsessed with my weight, lost 30ish pounds, putting me around 115lbs at 5’6. This is when my binges started, about once per week I’d snap from all the pressure I was putting on myself and just eat ’til I was numb.
    15- Started bingeing, daily. Gained 35ish pounds. Was totally miserable.
    16- Somewhat miraculously stopped bingeing completely for a whole month, and even after that, for a while, binged rarely and ate pretty healthily. Got to about 135lbs.
    16.5-17- Had many periods of daily binges, and many periods of healthy eating with binges 1-2 times per week. Constantly yo-yoed between 135-155lbs.
    18- My dad passed away, I completely lost my appetite. Went down to about 130lbs at 5’8. Almost completely stopped bingeing for about 3 months, ate healthily and kept a stable weight. I loved my body at this weight, but I was still trying to lose more, I don’t even know why. I guess it’s just become a habit, because I KNEW that I didn’t need to/want to look skinnier.
    18.5- Stress and unresolved grief brought bingeing back full force. Went up to around 160lbs. Had a brief encounter with (illegal) ‘diet’ pills.
    19- Desperately trying to settle my eating issues. Got to 137 through healthy eating and exercise, but since then gained about 5lbs due to stress-eating during finals.

    Wow. Writing it out truly makes me realize how abnormal my eating patterns are. I mean, I’ve always been very aware of my issues, ever since they started at around 14, I’ve know that I had a problem and have been trying to fight it… But I’ve always felt like the times I was at a lower weight, and wasn’t bingeing as much, were times where I was kind of free from disordered eating.. I now see it’s probably not the case. I’ve just always gone from one extreme to another, and they’re both unhealthy ways of coping. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve gained and lost the same 20ish pounds.. Sigh.
    Definitely getting proffessional help and focusing on recovery this summer.

  4. Olivia says:

    Sidenote: an interesting fact I noted while re-reading my ‘history’.. is that I’ve never (except in early childhood) been out of the ‘healthy’ weight range, according to BMI. At my thinnest I had a BMI of 18.6 and at my heaviest, of 24.3, while the healthy range is 18.5-24.9… I somehow don’t think it’s a coincidence that I gain a ton of weight everytime I’m approaching the lower limit of the healthy range. I think I just need that comfort of wanting to lose weight, of havinge something to strive for., without having to deal with actually being overweight. If that makes sense.

  5. Heather says:

    Hi Sunny,

    I’ve read the first chapter of the book and, with other books and therapy, have gone through this particular question many times. However it never hurts to remind ourselves, as uncomfortable as it is, so here goes:

    Childhood: I was probably, like you, what you’d call a sturdy child. Just normal, really, but I remember feeling big for as long as I can remember. Like you, too, I think I must have picked up that concern from my Mum. I felt fat, especially in phys ed classes, and ugly compared with others.

    10: I remember no boys wanting to kiss me in a game of kiss chase, and my first kiss ruined as he didn’t really want to but felt sorry for me

    11/12: Worried so much about phys ed that I developed consistent migranes and had to go home. Weight probably a little over what it should have been for my age, but onset of puberty. Was probably normal but didn’t feel it.

    14-16: Aware that my clothes sizes seemed bigger than other people’s. Was probably about a UK 12 (US 8) but felt massive. Worked hard to pretend I didn’t. Made up for insecurities with how I was with boys. Ran away from home to be noticed. Ate tomatoes on toast for a whole week in an attempt to diet.

    16 - 19: Met boyfriend. Happy life with friends. Weight less of an issue. Remember periodic fasting in the day as I became less happy at school and home.

    19: Broke up with boyfriend. Turned to boys and alcohol, drinking until I blacked out. Ate fairly ‘normally’ as far as I can remember, if a little over eating at times. Healthy weight and shape. Size UK 12-14. Feel like this was more or less most natural weight. (In fact, this weekend, I’ve looked at pictures of myself at this time. I look the most happy and secure in my looks and skin that I’ve ever been. And I look SLIM, which I never thought I’d say.)

    20 Went to university. Put on weight in a matter of 2-3 months with overeating and bingeing. Size 16 (top end). Got boyfriend, whom I got with through loneliness and who ended up prayed on my insecurities to keep me.

    20-21: Started to diet as a result of a comment by a nurse. Successful on WeightWatchers - followed plans myself. Restricted increasingly. Finished with boyfriend because I wanted to spend more time with my ED and because I knew I didn’t really want him. Lost around 3st and several dress sized until UK size 6/8 (US 4/6). Smallest I have ever been. Felt terrible inside and very depressed. Still felt massive. Knew I had issues.

    22 Moved to France for university for 6 months. Started bingeing and eventually put on all the weight again, probably in a couple of months. Felt disgusting, depressed, lonely and suicidal. Came back to UK to speak with Dr who told me I was ‘not fat, not thin… normal’. I went back to France suicidal.

    22-23: Came back to UK as family worried. Spent year working and got bigger UK 16/18. Biggest ever been. Felt awful. First got counselling and it kept me going, though I didn’t stop bingeing or get better at that point. It just kept me alive.

    23-24: Still bingeing but less often. Focused on university work and was very successful. Still hated my body and shape. Stabilized at UK 16.

    24: Met current bf. Bingeing less often. Still struggling with emotions and food. Stopped dieting. Not sure if I gave it up or just decided I couldn’t do it anymore. Afraid of dieting, as it made me more depressed. Started to expand types of foods I eat with support of bf. Facing food anxieties regularly. Studying. Still size 16.

    25: Decided to make a committment to end this relationship with ED. Joined ED support group and attended a confidence class, where I met a group of women in same situation. Continued to meet with them after. Still size 16 but clothes less tight, I think. Have used weigh scales once in a while without it completely ruining my day. Continued with trying foods. Made effort to try new things that scared me and to see friends regularly. Had some short-term counselling for issues with mum and felt a lot better about that. Started a job that I was overqualified for but ppl nice and helping ppl.

    26: Started counselling for one year. V. helpful (supermarket fears less and developed some alternative coping strategies) but food issues not gone all together. Binging infrequently. Perception of what binge in changing, so binges much smaller amounts of food. Still emotionally eating. Increasingly frustrated at work. Kept going to ED support group and meeting girls from confidence group for support.

    27 (now): Changed job for more money and a bit more challenging. Had to finish counselling because of job, but had more or less come to end. Getting on okay by myself with food and eating, but still use it as reward and emotional crutch. Not managed to cook as often as I’d like for many reasons, but current house share makes it difficult in small kitchen. Now made decision to move into my own place for independence and hopefully less excuses not to cook! Currently size 16 still, with overeating, but hopeful that as my mind gets better and better, and I keep working on my thoughts, I’ll be more able to make better decisions for my health and will eventually reach my healthy weight..

    • Heather says:

      I even forgot to add in all the issues I had with food as a baby ( a very fussy eater apparently), so that my family would just be glad if I ate anything (so I’d eat less healthy foods because they tasted nice, like sweets). I also stopped eating meat at about 10/11, partly because I was so fussy I never ate it anyway, partly to save animals I thought and perhaps because I didn’t want to eat it. I had the same sandwiches each day from 4-16.

      I now eat all kinds of foods, including meat (medium-rare steak is my favourite food!), thanks to a wonderfully supportive boyfriend and also thanks to myself - I have worked hard on myself to get to a point where I can listen to other people’s views on food and eating without reacting badly.

      It’s made a huge difference in my life. I don’t need to panic whenever someone asks me over because I can eat most foods. I don’t have to turn dinner invites down or apologise for having to ask for different foods. I can go to new countries because I can find something I will eat.

      My mum still is very very fussy around food herself. I can now see why I might have developed these issues, even before it was about my body size, shape or looks, and I know it wasn’t my fault. I was clearly fearful around food because my family were, also, and so no one was able to help me out of my fear.

  6. Ashanti says:

    It took me several days to do this but here it is:

    age 8: I started gaining weight due to my asthma medication. During this time my parents were fighting a lot and one of my best childhood friends moved away.

    age 9: This is when I was getting bullied for the weight gain. It started at summer camp and then rolled over to school. A lot of my old friends didn’t
    want to be friends with me because I was fat. Also I was developing during this time and boy classmates started to take notice of my “enhancements”. This is when I started to binge eat, favorite binge food of choice was ice cream and oatmeal.

    age 10: The more I was bullied, the more I binged and then weight gain. I remember a time in class, when we talked about what we wanted to be when we grow up and I said that I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. Then a boy that sat near my table said out aloud that “you can’t be a gymnast because you’re fat and only Slim Fast can take care of that.” I was so embarassed that
    I cried for days. Thoughts of suicide began to occur.

    ages 11-13: Middle school. My dad quit his job to take care of my grandma. Bullying really was bad. I was cyber bullying, even by my closest friends. Was
    first introducted to purging and after lunch me and some other girls would go into the bathroom and help each other purge. My self-esteem was at an all
    time low, hated gym class. My grandma passed away and I went into a brief depression and bulima (fasting/ slim fast shakes) I was at my heaviest 230 lbs.

    ages 14-16: High school, I was apart of marching band and for the first time I felt like I was a part of something that made me feel special and there were
    goregous girls who looked like me. Started to take a bit more pride in my apperance and when that happened I started losing a lot of weight. Encouraged by my weight loss and desire to be even smaller faster, I took water pills, skipped out on lunch. I picked with my food. My dad found a job in Northern VA. Also started cutting because I just felt horrible about myself, though the bullying has lessened, I still felt uncomfortable because I was reminded by the bullies, old and new.

    age 17: Senior year, I was so happy to graduate. I participated in my high school pageant. Though I didn’t win just the fact that I went out for it was
    scary but good for me. I performed my first solo and that didn’t go too well. I was still binging but the purging stopped. While in cosmetology school, I was the target for my other girls in my class to dump their insecures on. I was called Florida Evans from Good Times to my face on multiple occasions. It still hurts me to this day.

    ages 18: Freshman year of college and my body image/self-esteem was still the same. The fact that I had petite and curvy roommates made me feel even more insecure. I often isolated myself from social events that happened on campus and hated going into the dining hall. It felt like high school all over.

    age 19: I started researching about weight loss and eating disorders. I was so desperate and tired of feeling inequate that I wanted to do anything to make it go away. But in all of that, I was still being self-destructive to my body.

    So here we are at age 20, still heavy, and I’m ready to change. I found a therapist in my town and made an appointment. I still very afraid but I know that it has to be done in order for me to feel better about myself and life. Though the emotional wounds of my bullies still haunt me, I’m ready to defend myself and move on.

  7. Tamber says:

    So I glad I found this site and blog! I was always tiny and athletic. That was until my love affair with comfort food began… I just recently realized that I have been using food as a way to deal with my stress and as a drug to numb myself. I truly get a sense of happiness and relief from food.

    Age 21: I entered the corporate world. I worked with tons of women who decided that they just didn’t like me. There were rumors that I had a boob job among other things. I was so stressed out by work and rumors that I had chronic diarrhea and sever stomach cramps everyday. My stomach would cramp so badly I would vomit about 10-15 mins after eating. (Not voluntarily). I was diagnosed with IBS and placed on meds.

    Age 22-23: Still dealing with severe IBS. Lost weight due to stress with work and planning my wedding. Mid year of 23, I was told I was losing my job and my husband had not found one yet. I was extremely tired all the time and having mood swings on top of my IBS. I was placed on antidepressants and I began a love affair with FOOD! It just made me feel so much better…The IBS eased and I started gaining weight.

    Age 24: After 6 months of searching I found a new job and a new pants size… :( I was really stressed out. Food however; always made me feel better. I was feeling better though emotionally and taken of antidepressants.

    Age 25: Really struggling with my weight and food seems to be all I think about. Pants size went up again Yo yo dieting constantly. I’ll lose 5-7 lbs and gain them back. I used to be called tiny or petite, now everyone calls me thick…

  8. Jenna says:

    I just started reading the book about an hour ago and for the first time I feel relieved about my eating habits. In highschool I weighed 180 pounds and being 5’7″ that was an okay weight for me. I was atheltic, healthy, but always a “bigger girl”. Freshman year of college I had gone from 180 pounds to about 209. I joined Jenny Craig that summer and lost 30 pounds. I felt happy, sexy, beautiful, and healthy. When I got back to college I gained all my weight back. I’m going to be a senior in college in the fall and now I weigh 240 pounds and i’m wearing a size 18. I don’t feel “okay” any more. I wan’t to help my body change but cannot resist the urge to drive to Burger King at 11:45 pm on a Monday night. I am not healthy, but I am ready to get better. I am going to see a nutritionist, get a personal trainer and start doing things I love again like hiking and dancing. Knowing I’m not the only one who feels this way is a great feeling. I don’t feel ashamed of being alone in this struggle but instead feel more empowered to make a difference of my well being.

    • Sunny says:

      Hi Jenna,
      I’m so glad you found the book and HealthyGirl! I’m glad you feel ready to get better. May I offer one bit of insight in regard to the dietitian/trainer? If, in reading the book, you find that you believe you may be a binge eater, emotional overeater, or a disordered eater of any kind, I suggest you try to find a dietitian who works specifically with people with disordered eating/eating disorders or is a “nutritional therapist”—that is, someone who provides psychological counseling, as well as nutritional information. My experience is that general R.D.s (especially if they don’t know you are a disordered eater) may focus too much on the traditional weight-loss aspects of eating and that diet mentality can be absolutely counterproductive for someone who’s trying to fix their relationship with food. xo…Sunny

  9. Eliza says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to think, write, and discuss these issues, Sunny. It’s something I’ve been feeling for a while, but it’s hard to talk about with anyone I know in real life. I’m older than the typical commenter here, and I feel like I should have learned these lessons earlier, but here I am, so…

    Childhood, teenage years, and even through college: Normal build (except very tall), not athletic, no food issues to speak of.

    After college: Traveled abroad for a couple months, gained some weight. Father made comment upon my return and I started to feel self-conscious about my body.

    Peace Corps: Dieted and started running to lose the weight I had gained. Successful, but now thinking about body size and shape often. Food becomes good/bad.

    Grad school (1st round): Still thinking about food and body issues, but less pressing.

    Becoming a mother: Lost weight after first child fairly easily due to walking everywhere. Back to college weight within a year. Not so easy after 2nd child. Started running and restricting food intake. Back to college weight when child was 4.

    Grad school (2nd round)/working/parenting/getting older (in my 40s now): Much higher levels of stress combined with less time. Gained weight and more bad habits with food. Specifically, eating while working when stressed, emotional eating. Feeling very bad about it since daughter is old enough now to notice. Up and down in weight (10-15 pounds) depending on how “good” or “bad” I am with food and exercise. Feeling very bad about myself, made worse by the fact that I hang around with (and compare myself to) a lot of young people (teenagers and 20s), some of whom are very fit. Husband also athletic and has always been skinny. He’s always supportive, never critical, but doesn’t understand what it’s like for me.

  10. Lucy says:

    Thank you for this site and helping me identify my issues with eating. I am also older like Eliza and while I have not completed my life history with food and eating yet, I think my issues began after college and I stopped partying so much.

    I currently binge eat but maintain a healthy weight, although I am always looking to lose 10-15 pounds. I guess by BMI standards, I am overweight but lucky for me, very healthy. I do acknowledge all the great things my body does for me but also beat it up daily as I want to know why I cannot get rid of the fat that plagues my tummy and hips and bra bulge. Hmmm, ,maybe it was the box of Ritz cracker bits and the Hershey drops I ate earlier today.

    I am hoping to get some peace with food, so I am not continuously obsessing about it and when can I eat what next. Also, I would like to just be happy with my body the way it is.

    Looking forward to learning how to overcome my obsession and issues. Thanks for writing this book, which was highlighted in Glamour’s magazine May issue.

  11. Danielle says:

    Thank you Sunny for such a fantastic site and book. I feel like I’m not alone or crazy anymore.

    I have been wanting to post on here for days since I first came across your site but the perfectionist in me wanted to do it all ‘perfectly’ (which I still plan to do), but felt the need to just at least respond and try to break out of my comfort zone by not doing something perfectly.

    Needless to say I have struggled my entire life (now 32) with food but refuse to spend another 32 living like this.

    Thank you for being so open and honest about something which many people are too embarrassed and ashamed to discuss. It is truly liberating.

    Danielle x

  12. Amelia says:

    I’m going to generalize within age groups just to simplify this! :o) During any given year, I bounced back and forth between 10-20 pounds and periods of dieting and binging.

    Ages 8-10 - Wasn’t overweight, but I was chubby. My Mom was always on a diet, and she let me do the “Slim Fast” plan with her. I would always eat multiple servings of dinner and then snack on whatever was available for pretty much the entire night. I snuck food into my room and binged as a way of dealing with bad feelings. I was depressed at this age, and I wanted nothing more than to be skinny and cute.

    Ages 11-14 - Looking back, I can see that I wasn’t fat, but again, I was considered “chubby.” I was so self-conscious that I would hide during PE because I couldn’t stand it when the other kids made fun of me as I ran. I wanted to join the softball team, but I couldn’t get myself to step out of the car on the first day. I just looked at all the skinny girls and felt ashamed of my own body. I agonized over my body and weight. I alternated between periods of dieting and binging.

    Ages 15-17 - I actually got my weight down well into the normal range during this period, maybe 140 or 150. I learned that fat was “bad,” and I counted every gram. I refused to eat with my family and would boil a piece of chicken and steam some broccoli for myself. I read every diet book imaginable. I worked out at the gym for two hours a day. I joined the swim team. And every single day, I looked in the mirror and saw a fat person. I dreamed of the day when I would actually be skinny and happy - the day my life would begin.

    Ages 18-23 - These were the gaining years. I was in college and in a bad relationship. I had always been at the top of my class, so pressure was high. I ate and ate and ate.. I gave into the binge monster. I stopped working out. I got up to 240 pounds (I’m 5’4). I stopped having periods, and my doctor told me it was because I was obese. I became extremely depressed. I tried every diet imaginable. I would buy 6 Lean Cuisines, a bag of cookies, chips, sodas, etc. and eat them all in one night. Then I’d lay on my bed and cry, feeling out of control and worthless.

    Ages 24-26 - I lost a miraculous amount of weight by counting calories and working out like a fiend. I got down to 138 pounds. I looked better than I had ever looked in my life, but I still felt fat. I was still waiting to buy nice clothes when I lost 10 or 20 more pounds. (I have always been waiting.) I was 138 pounds for about a day, and then I started gaining again.

    Age 27 - I got back up to 180 - soo depressing.

    Age 28 - I got down to about 150. Once again, I went on a superdiet - not a bite of white sugar, flour, anything - and 1,200 cals a day. I ran every morning and worked out every afternoon.

    Age 29-30 - My weight started to climb again, I stopped working out, I ate thousands of calories at one sitting. Every day I told myself that I would start my diet “tomorrow.” I am now 200 pounds.

    I’m tired.

    There are no eating disorder treatment facilities anywhere near where I live. I can’t even find a counselor who specializes in this.

    And all I want is to go on another diet, but every day I try to, and at some point I fail. I figure, “Oh well, I’ll try again tomorrow,” and I eat everything again.

    I can’t believe that this is how I am spending my life. I feel broken. I know it’s not logical, but I have tried so many times to make myself stop, and every time I wind up back here. I’ve stopped seeing my friends, and most of the time when I’m home, I just want to lay on my bed and cry. I feel bad about what I’m doing to my husband. He didn’t sign up for this! I just don’t know how I can believe that it’s actually going to be different next time.

  13. Julie says:

    i’m 37 and like eliza, am an older commenter on this site and feel like i should have learned something earlier on in my life but here i am.

    childhood-strong girl. bigger than my friends from competitive swimming.

    10-13-would travel to france to see my grandparents and cousins and was often told i was “forte” which means strong in french. i felt that it meant fat because i was also told not too eat too much of this or too much of that, etc. i was bigger than my scrawny cousins. i was still competitively swimming.

    14-17-high school started and i felt ugly and fat. started to eat big quantities of food when home alone. restricted my food. weighed about 130 at 5’7. first time i really started to weigh myself. girls in my high school were really pretty and many had a lot of issues with drugs, food and sex. i was totally prude and scared. was told by one of my vollyball teammates that i would be a good looking boy. really thought i was so ugly.

    18-19-went away to college out of state and started overeating/late night eating/bingeing. didn’t really know what it all was that i was doing but was super unhappy at college. scared. ate to comfort myself. gained 20 pounds.
    came home parents said i was fat.

    19-went on a diet through a book called “think thin.” very carb restrictive. started running a lot more than i used to. transferred to new university.

    20-21-cycle of not eating and eating started happening. got very thin at new university. down to 120-while running and still being active so this is low for me. i tend to look a lot thinner than just 120 from all the athletics i have done. loved being so thin. but barely ate-1 instant packet of oatmel for breakfast-no lunch often-maybe just candy-then salad for dinner. running almost 4-5 days a week. walking everywhere. fell in love with a guy who broke my heart-and started bingeing and throwing up then. this was happening weekly for 6 months.

    21-27-bingeing. dieting. bingeing. dating but not keeping a BF cause think i’m too fat. weight is between 140 and 150. i think i’m huge. i think i’m so ugly.

    27-29-meet a guy. i’m about 145 and i struggle with liking myself and feeling like i deserve to be in a relationship and to feel loved. i end up being in a relationship that was hurtful. BF sees a photo of my mom when she was 30 and she’s in a bikini and he says “what happened to your abs?” i feel terrible about myself and restrict my food to compensate for feeling so badly and to cope with how i feel my BF feels about my body which to me felt like he was grossed out about it.
    29-BF and i break up and for some reason i am completely heart broken even though he was a jerk. i lose my appetite and within the first 3 weeks lose 7 pounds. within 3 months i lose 20 pounds and am down to 125-the thinest i have been.
    i love being this thin and remember getting a lot of attention. felt like i was freed after having been so caged in with my ex.
    but i’m not eating very much so am not happy overall.
    30-31-can’t sustain the low weight of 125 and creep back up to 140. i’m bingeing and do purge a little bit here. i go on restrictive diets to keep my weight at 140 and really want to get down to 130 or 135. i eat a protein shake for breakfast and dinner and have lettuce with no dressing and protein for lunch. workout 1 hour a day, 6 days a week. when that diet is done i binge. weight goes back up.
    31-37-meet my husband, continue to binge, not purge. weight creeps up to 150-155. struggle with my weight daily.
    hate my body. associate everything about my weight with how my life has turned out. think my husband doesn’t want to be intimate with me because of my weight. think i’m not where i want to be in my life overall because of my weight.
    i want to end this self-hatred and learn to love myself especially if we have children. i want to find a therapist in the city where i live that specializes in this for a woman my age and am not having luck. do you have a suggestion on where to look?

    • Lorraine says:

      I think I’m most similar to you Julie. I’m not going to go by a specific age since my memory isn’t so hot.

      childhood: no issues with weight, dad said I eat too slow, “if you’re not done with dinner when we are, no dessert” I could have cared less. I rode my bike constantly and loved playing games outside.

      puberty: beginnings of bingeing, but I was young, had a great metabolism and was athletic. My sister and I would bake a batch of chocolate cookies after school and eat them all before my dad, the food police, would get home. My mom kept Zingers hidden in a drawer in the kitchen and we would sneak eat them together.

      high school: dad said I’m fat so I thought so too. I was 5’6″ and only about 118 or 120 pounds at the time.

      college: I gained about 5 pounds and was very careful not to go over my weight limit. I was having so much fun with friends it wasn’t much of an issue. I wasn’t shy because I was tipsy or drunk most of the time.

      twenties: I stayed the same as I was in high school or college. I didn’t eat after dinner, but I ate what I wanted.

      thirties and early forties: became increasingly more obsessed with dieting, calories, losing weight, and food. I started to think about what, when, and how much food I was going to eat every day. I went up and down a lot but seldom kept my weight below 130. Exercise and binge eating. A few years of being bulimic. Got over 140 for the first time, but lost about 10 pounds when I started working full-time again.

      Now at 44: extremely obsessed with food and weight. Almost 150, a scary place to be for me. Bingeing every night. I’m fine all day and then the night comes and I’m like a vampire for food. I’m extremely lonely since I have Borderline Personality disorder and it’s hard for me to make and keep friends. I don’t think anyone wants to be around someone who is depressed a lot of the time. I’m alone and food is my only friend.

      Hoping this site can help me since I’m so tired of the shame and guilt of bingeing!

  14. Kate says:

    hm my weight history….

    i was never super skinny, but always pretty athletic as a child. until i was about 12 I didn’t really think about food, and was pretty happy and played lots of sports
    12- first began school dances with boys, where we all got dressed up. Boys commented on the size of butt, and although they liked it, I began to feel self conscious next to my stick friends, but I continued to play sports and stayed fairly happy
    15- sophomore year i sprained my ankle playing basketball, it was the first time I couldn’t play sports and I didn’t know how to react. I had defined myself as an athlete, but with out that I had some serious confidence issues As a result I first began binging, especially right after school when I was hope alone.
    16-18 I really wanted to make the soccer team, and I knew the other person who played my position was skinnier, so I tried to get in better shape, by severely cutting calories. I was so proud of myself when I weighed in at 125. But then I still didn’t get to play and it crushed my confidence. I started to believe that it was because who i was as a person, not how i played. Began binge eating again, highest weight at 160.
    18- freshman year of college helped me find who I am, I was able to go to the gym and was too busy having fun and weighed in at around 133. Then I got mono, and was severely restricted in athletic activity, causing my weight to spike up to 150 in a matter of months. Came home for the summer and had a difficult adjusting to life back and home and friends changing, but overexcersized in addition to binging
    20- weight continues to increase, and i feel out of ocntrol

  15. Mari says:

    First, I want to thank Sunny for writing this book. I am currently living abroad and a good friend (and contributor to the book!) sent me “Food: the Good Girl’s Drug”. Although I am still struggling with BED, I feel like I at least have a guide, or better yet a hand to hold.

    Age 13-16 I remember being aware of my weight, and although small and athletic, I watched my mother on various diets and was very much aware of the importance she placed on trying to loose weight.

    Age 16-18 Started binge eating occasionally, mostly when I was home alone and had a second to breathe in a very jammed packed schedule (running between clubs, sports, dates with friends and a boyfriend). I found myself already unable to relax, and that eating was the only chance I gave myself to sit down and just be. This resulted in one bowl of ice cream turning into a whole pint of Ben & Jerrys, or baking cookies and making myself sick on dough before they even went in the oven (still an issue, almost ten years later).

    Age 18 Began University, was running but not playing sports any more- and found myself eating more than comfortable in the dorms, and becoming aware that I was gaining weight. I remember stepping on my roommates scale and a new “friend” told me I was heavier for my height than I should be- for the first time I started thinking about how I could and had to loose weight.

    Age 19-22 Summer before Sophomore year of college I went on Weight Watchers to “support my mom”(-who has always been overweight, and more recently admitted to me to always struggling with emotional eating) ended up loosing about ten pounds. I found myself obsessed with keeping points for the day- and getting angry with my mom when she cheated- or taking it out on her if I “lost” control. I already saw foods as good/bad- zero points or lots of points. Started the school year and gained back the weight by winter. Was living in a house filled with other females, always talking about weight, exercising, food etc. I found it hard to think of anything else. Retreated to the library to study and be away from my living situation, but would sneak in food/candy to the library. I would eat a healthy dinner and then eat large amounts of candy to fuel late night studying. Found myself unhappy, just going through the movements. I didn’t feel myself again until the end of my senior year when I let up on my strict guidelines for studying, exercising and eating (The strict guidelines really just resulted in breaking those guidelines- followed by negative self talk and further binge eating). But weight always fluctuated only around 5-10 lbs, and I always lied to myself that something bigger was going on. Something beyond the eating and what I perceived to be lack of self control.

    Age 23: Moved abroad to take a job. Was miserable, without friends or family and ate at my new job, when I was home alone in my flat and anywhere in-between, to fill the dark hole I felt. I was often feeling lonely, trying to reach out to people but often not wanting to be in social situations because I felt ugly or that I would be placed in a situation out of my control.

    Age 24 (now): Took another job, in another country, started out really enjoying it with a tight network of friends, but soon found myself struggling with the same issue of loneliness, and using food to fill the void. I don’t want to continue choosing food over feelings- but sometimes I see the only option to avoid the pain to be something sweet, something that will fill my stomach. Still not overweight- but often have very negative body image, and awful self talk. Started seeing a therapist about five months ago (but only about once every six weeks-my health plan doesnt allow for more), and trying to arm myself with the tools to start down a new path.

    I feel as if I take two steps forward and then three steps back, all the time. Unfortunately living abroad I can feel even more alone, and despite technology I find it difficult to feel like I am really feeling connected. I wish there was support group, or even some people nearby who spoke my language, but I also dont want to continue my time abroad feeling this way(I have about ten months left). I want to enjoy the culture around me, not obsess over food and end up numbing myself to my difficult feelings by eating more and more.

  16. leila says:

    hi sunny& all my fellow girls!I instead of stating my weight history. I’m going to say my current problem.hope that doesn’t bother anyone. Ok so right now i am 15&weigharound 135pounds& am 5’3. i don’t know if i have BED but i do know that i am trying to lose weight. i excrrsice during the week,but nothing excessive since i don’t play sports& then end up gaining it over the weekend&so on. i have been packing lighter lunches but still no luck. & my cousin who was a geat role model of mine was anerixic at age 15 wasn’t too serious. except for that she got to weigh 100pounds. i don’t how she was able to do it.but i despertly want to lose weight and don’t know how. if anyone has any tips please tell me.
    yours truly, hidden insecure girl
    p.s SOS.please…

  17. Ally says:

    Childhood: Was always an active child and was super tall and skinny. Parents would poke fun calling me a zipper, etc.

    Highschool: thin but healthy for my height and build (6’2”, medium/ slight build) participated in sports. First became aware of weight when girls were talking about dieting for prom. I would ask my friends if I needed to lose weight and they did not say anything, which I took to mean
    that I did need to. (completely ridiculous looking back because i was under a bmi of 18.5)

    summer age 18: started to watch what i ate, just trying to eat healthier. lost 10 lbs in 2 months and realized that i looked a bit too thin.

    University: scared of the freshman 15, started to eat less due to homesickness. turned into me restricting. Got diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the end of first year at a bmi of 11.

    age 19: went into therapy in the summer and gained some weight, when i went back to school in the fall i started to binge eat.

    Now: i am still binge eating and have gained all the weight back + 20 lbs. I am not overweight but am scared of becoming overweight. I do not want to go back to restricting and anorexia but it seems like all or none. don’t eat or stuff my face.

    i need help to gain a healthy relationship with food so that my body isn’t stressed from intense amounts of weight loss and gain!!!

  18. Adriana says:

    Hi I’m 16 years old and my mom is obsessed with my weight. I’m 5’4″ tall and currently weight 120lbs (even though my mom says 125), I’ve only gained five pounds but I don’t care much. My mom complains about my weight always saying I need to lose weight and that I have a big belly (I don’t). She says I need to be like her when she was my age which is like only 100lbs, but she was (is) shorter than me and that would be unhealthy for me; but she wants me to lose 20lbs!!! I can’t do that, that’s very unhealthy, to my grandparents, siblings, boyfriend, and friends I look good… so why can’t she accept that! I just want to be able to talk and explain to her without getting into a fight and her beating me or something… thanks

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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.