Today at 5 PM EST on Twitter, I will be hosting a chat on food anxiety and the different forms it takes. Please join! If you want to send questions anonymously, please email me questions to GrimalkinRN@gmail.com
We will be discussing what forms food anxiety takes, how it develops, how we cope, and what happens when we can’t cope.
Please share this post if you have a moment!
I’ve been on steroids and sick since the beginning of February and it’s added 10 pounds to me. I am at my highest weight ever.
250 pounds. I’m going to have to buy some new, bigger clothes at this rate. I already bought scrub pants, but my bras are tight and everything is tight. I tell myself I can lose weight, but I really don’t think I can do it fast enough. I have an interview today and I’m just praying my jeans won’t be too small. I’ve been living in yoga pants since I got over 230.
I feel so ashamed of myself. I tell myself I couldn’t help getting bronchitis. I can’t help that I got pleurisy and I have tried to exercise but it’s also difficult to go out when I have asthma and it’s cold. I tell myself steroids make you gain weight, and I needed the steroids to breathe. This is all true.
But there’s another problem.
I have an eating disorder. I binge eat. I particularly binge eat when I lose any weight at all. Seeing the scale drop makes me want to eat. Seeing my clothes get looser makes me want to eat. I see a doctor about this but haven’t had much success with the anxiety that comes with weight loss.
I grew up very poor, and we didn’t always have food. My mother always praised us when we gained weight. She was probably relieved that we weren’t starving. We didn’t always have food when we were growing up. This lasted from the time we moved to Nashville, Tennessee, until the time she met my first step-father, Merritt, when I was about 7 or 8. After we met him, we were abused, we were hit and emotionally tormented, but we were fed.
We also had plenty of food in the Summer when I visited my grandparents. There were snacks and my grandparents always made sure we had plenty of them. I wasn’t hungry for most of my childhood, just a small part, but it has stuck with me.
I remember once, I was hungry and there wasn’t much food in the house. My mom was at work. I found a can of tuna and ate it. When she got home, she was furious. She said “that could have fed us for a week!”
Of course it couldn’t, but I remember that. I remember her yelling at me whenever I ate something that wasn’t specifically for mealtime. Snacks weren’t really something we had around the house, even after we were better off financially, and oh my God, I felt hungry all the time.
I won a scholarship to Germany my senior year of high school and it was the first time I really was offered enough to eat for a long period of time. I didn’t react appropriately. I started buying food at the local market and hiding it in my room. My host mother really didn’t understand and I know her feelings were hurt. But the sight of the food in my bedroom cupboard was comforting. I didn’t know it, but I had started to hoard food. I didn’t know it was a psychological condition at the time.
Then I got home. Shortly after arriving back in the States, my mother and step-father kicked me out. Then I really didn’t have enough food. I literally would count change to buy a can of soup or ravioli. When I got paid, I would go to the store and buy as much food as I could. I would buy so much food that I could barely make rent. The food hoarding got out of control. I put food on credit cards. I would buy and buy and buy food and not eat it. I’d stock my pantry and fridge and then go get fast food. None of it made sense.
When I moved to Colorado, I tried to change. Several times, I took my load of food to a food bank, only to buy another hoard with my next paycheck, putting myself at risk of homelessness again. I didn’t have a great job, but I had a job that paid enough for an apartment, bills, and a reasonable amount of food. But I had to have more. I had to have cans and cans and cans of food. To preserve the hoard, I’d still go to restaurants and get fast food, so I wouldn’t have to touch my hoard.
Eventually, I got into therapy, but I never really talked about food hoarding. As my anxiety lessened, I was able to give away food a little bit at a time and now while I do have more food on hand than my husband and I need, I don’t have so much food that I regularly throw it out. I have started making recipes out of the things I keep in the fridge. I keep food in the freezer, but I eat it. And when I went gluten free, I went through my cabinet and donated things I could no longer eat.
But what I can’t seem to do is stop eating. Whenever I lose any weight, I feel a compulsion to eat. I have to eat. I can’t not eat. I eat until my stomach hurts, and then as soon as the pain lets up, I eat some more.
I gave up soda, I gained weight because I replaced the soda with other food. I gave up gluten, I gained weight because I found lots of substitutes. Last year, I tried to become a vegetarian and gained weight so fast it was alarming.
My doctor doesn’t really get it. I used to take Wellbutrin and that was very helpful for appetite control. Then I started having hand tremors from Wellbutrin and I’m on a different medication for depression that is really not helping my anxiety. I honestly don’t know what to do. When I think about looking for a support group, I feel so embarrassed. When I think about dieting, I want to eat. When I think about exercising, I want to eat.
I really can’t throw all of this blame on my mother. She was a single mom, and we were incredibly poor. My father didn’t pay child support until she managed to have it removed from his paycheck. But things happened when I was a child, and these things make me prone to hoarding food. I’ve managed to stop hoarding food in cabinets, but instead, I now hoard weight on my body.
If I can’t stop doing this, I’m going to get diabetes. I’m going to get joint issues, I’m going to get high blood pressure. I already have slightly elevated blood pressure. My asthma is getting worse. My clothes don’t fit. They are painful, and I really can’t afford to buy new ones right now.
This isn’t about accepting my body as fat and loving it. I don’t feel good at this weight. I feel awful.
I’m not asking people for solutions, I’m just getting this out, writing it down. I’m going to try to find help for my specific problem.
I don’t blame my mother for being hungry but I do blame my childhood for these habits I have now. I hope that by writing it down, admitting to the world I have a problem, I will be able to start changing my habits and my body.
I want to emphasize here: I do not want dieting advice. I do not want to hear about Paleo or veganism or anything like that. I have learned that restricting my diet triggers me to binge eat. I am going to work at exercising more and learning not to go eat when the scale goes down. That’s going to be my first step.
Thanks for listening.