Hi, my name is Prerna. I am a 27 year old PhD student who has struggled on and off with binge eating disorder and bulimia for a while.
I grew up in an extremely supportive and open-minded family. Yet, I had this battle with myself about my weight, food habits and disordered eating.
When I was a kid, I would start planning my next meal before finishing the current one and I can tell you, not much has changed! My earliest memory of behavioral patterns linked to disordered eating is when my dad sent me to a dietician, which was all the rage in the early 2000s! Being put on a stricter food regimen made me want to constantly “cheat”. I remember eating chocolates in the bathroom and then hiding the wrappers. This was strange behaviour since I had never been stopped from eating anything and if I would have asked, my mother would have willingly given me the chocolates. There was something about inherent guilt that prevent me from asking her and this feeling of guilt that has stayed with me to date.
I didn’t have any particularly bad episodes until I moved to the US. I was suddenly in a different country, independent and had no one to be accountable to. I felt slightly isolated even though I made wonderful friends and spoke to family regularly. A few events in my personal life triggered what I now recognize as patterns of binge eating and bulimia. I turned to the only thing I had control of— Food. With the ease of food delivery services , there I had access to food 24×7 without ever leaving home. I would order large amounts of food, almost every night. Then, with a sudden feeling of guilt washing over me, I would force myself to throw up. This was a vicious cycle. The more this happened, the more it affected my mental health. The only way for me to deal with my feelings? More food! I gained a lot of weight and even stopped going out because I was embarrassed. This even led to physiological problems like severe acid reflux/ GERD and I ended up in the urgent care and had to visit an ENT multiple times.
My partner caught me throwing up. It was then that I made the decision of opening up to him as well as to my mother. I was difficult because I was ashamed and a part of me felt like I was letting them down. My mother and partner were supportive and accepting. They listened to me without judgement and became my pillars of strength. Being able to talk to someone changed everything. I now had people I could confide in and their support made me rethink my decisions. Having someone to be accountable to made things so much easier. Talking to them made me confident enough to seek professional help.
I think for me, accepting that there was an issue to begin with was the hardest part, along with seeking help and confiding in others. But once that happened, it became a lot easier to focus on my health while still enjoying food. I will always be a foodie, but I don’t let food control my life or who I am anymore.