Eating disorders and disordered eating

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with food. Growing up, I was a compulsive overeater. I hit that “obese” mark early in childhood and tried every diet known to mankind. But the bottom line wasn’t what I was eating, it was why I was eating. I was turning to food for the same reasons my mother turned to alcohol.

Of course, as I grew older and my weight increased, this impacted my health. My weight peaked during my pregnancy at just over 300 pounds. I had high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and although I wasn’t diagnosed, I had the symptoms of Type II diabetes (my spouse at the time was diabetic and I would test my sugar levels every now and then…. I was borderline…).

After having a baby, I kept trying to lose weight but a lifetime of habits don’t go away overnight. The decision to have weight loss surgery was a difficult choice. I knew this was only a tool to force me to change my eating habits, get my weight under control and, oh, be healthy so I could be around for my kid. It still took me a year to make that decision.

I’ve kept the weight off, and I no longer have the co-morbidities I had at 282 pounds, when I had my surgery.

I should weigh 140 pounds. I weigh 133, and it’s a struggle to maintain that weight.

I still have a problem with food.

You see, when I’m under stress, I just don’t eat. It’s not like I’m intentionally starving myself. I don’t have the typical anorexic symptoms (God knows, I’m not exercising enough for that, nor am I afraid of gaining weight). I’m not binging and purging, either. I just have no hunger trigger. I have no desire to eat. I look at the fridge, I know I should eat, but I don’t want to.

There is a name for this type of disordered eating. It’s called “depression”. Sometimes it’s referred to as “anxiety”, or “stress”. When it kicks in, you have to comfort your inner child and reassure that inner child that everything is ok. I thought about this analogy, and my need to gain some weight, and put two and two together. If my inner child needs comforting in those moments where I just don’t want to eat, maybe I need to keep “kid” food around. Mac’n’cheese is quick and easy when you just don’t want to…. and appeals to the inner child. Add some protein to it and you have a quick lunch.

I still do not regret my choice of having weight loss surgery. I do not believe I would be around today if I hadn’t gone that route. However, I do believe I would have done some things differently. I would have pursued therapy prior to and after WLS instead of coping with the change on my own. If I had done that, maybe I wouldn’t have this “stress diet” problem today. So I post this for anyone considering WLS as an option. It does work, but it is not a fix. It is a tool. And if you’ve been dealing with an eating disorder all your life, you’re still going to have to face those issues after the surgery. Getting a therapist to help work through those issues will help immensely.

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