In prior blogs, I have written about my early relationships with food and body image, which may have played a role in my eating disorder development later on in life. In this post I want to share a little bit more about my experience, and provide some tips on the best ways to help a friend of family member if they are going through something similar.
My eating disorder began during my freshmen year of college. I started college as a scrawny walk-on athlete. I never worried about my weight much before, but was very aware of how my body looked… and I had a specific way I wanted it to look. Throughout my freshmen year, I was exposed to a new way of working out that I had never experienced before… lifting weights! I did put on a good amount of weight, mostly muscle, and was certainly aware that I looked a bit different by the middle of my freshmen year. Due to this, as well as a few comments from teammates and friends about the changes in my body, I decided to go on a diet. At this time, I also underwent a surgery that obviously limited what I could do in the weight room; therefore, I began to lose weight pretty quickly. When I healed from my surgery I began running… and eating less and less. Things just went from bad to worse, as you can imagine, and the rest is history – I was sucked into my own eating disorder world.
Thankfully, I had a wonderful therapist, as well as family members and friends who helped me through this terrible, isolating time in my life. Do I regret it? Although, I definitely lost friends and probably some great experiences during this time, I don’t regret it. My eating disorder made me into the fighter that I am today, and I truly feel that I am so much more able to help others that are in the same position that I was; I can relate and I understand what they are going through.
These are some of the behaviors I experienced early on and are signs to watch out for if you suspect disordered eating in a friend, family member, athlete, student, etc.:
One of the most important things you can do is prepare and educate yourself as much as possible. Reaching out to a therapist or support organization can help you with this. The person you care about may be experiencing high levels of anxiety, shame, embarrassment, guilt and denial; and the resources that you have should be able to help you understand the best way to approach this person.
For more eating disorder resources, visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/resource-links.
Allison Tropf, MS, RD, CSSD
Allison is a Sports Dietitian in Michigan. She enjoys helping others reach their nutrition and fitness goals through reliable and trustworthy recommendations.
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