Is This How Eating Disorders Begin?

Is This How Eating Disorders Begin? - BluntMoms.com
Glynis Ratcliffe
Written by Glynis Ratcliffe

The house is silent. My son is napping and my husband has gone to work. I quietly open the door to the pantry, and blindly grab for it. I don’t want to turn on the light and risk waking the baby. I pull out the bag, head to my computer, and sit down. I stick my hand in and pull out a handful of the forbidden item, shoving it in my mouth.

It’s 9:45am, and I am gorging myself on chocolate chips.

Something has been happening to me, in the past six months. I’m still trying to figure out what, but it revolves around my relationship with food. I wish it were as simple as comforting myself by eating.

It’s not.

My body feels like a gaping wound, right now. When I eat certain foods, the image that comes to mind is that of a pen, or an ice pick, digging into that wound. It’s painful, it’s ugly, it’s horrific, really. And I kind of enjoy the pain I’m causing myself. I want to dig deeper into that wound and experience more pain. It’s my little secret. My disgusting, inexplicable secret.

When I think about eating sugary, junky treats, most of the time I am well aware of how nasty they will make me feel. I have been a healthy eater for more than a decade, experimenting with avoiding more inflammatory foods, buying organic, filling my plate with mostly vegetables and some meat. I feel fantastic when I eat this way. So why can’t I eat this way right now?

Actually, I can and I do. I prepare delicious salads for lunch, hearty egg-based breakfasts, healthy dinners. But then I sneak into the closet and eat mouthful after mouthful of chocolate chips. Or I sneak out the jar of Nutella that I secretly bought, and eat half the jar in one sitting. And then eat the other half that night.

I feel horrible when I do this. Not only am I disgusted with myself on a personal level, for my lack of self-control, but I feel sick to my stomach. Most of the time, I don’t even want to be eating those treats. I feel compelled, though, on a very base level.

It’s like I’m picking a scab.

Is this how eating disorders begin?

Horrible. Disgusting. Ugly. Fat.

These are the words I find myself using, again and again, as I try to describe my experiences with eating, food, and my body image right now. It’s scary, to find myself in this position. I have always tried my best, as an adult, to be body-positive. I have a teenaged stepdaughter and a four-year-old daughter, and I am SO AWARE of how impressionable they are. I don’t want to ever model shame about my body, in front of them. I desperately want them to accept themselves as they are, love their bodies, never feel beholden to society’s perceived demands on women.

Yet here I stand, ashamed.

Ashamed of my belly beginning to protrude as though I’m pregnant all over again. Ashamed that the only reason I work out right now is to slow my imminent weight gain. Ashamed that I can’t control the compulsion to poke my way further into the wound, by eating until I’m sick to my stomach.

The other day, my daughter stuck her finger into my belly and asked, “Mama, why is your tummy so big and round?” So many answers came to mind, and none of them were suitable for four-year-old ears.

In the end, I told her that sometimes, when people eat more than their bodies need, it makes their tummies stick out and get rounder. It was a shitty answer, but it was the best I could come up with, that didn’t sound too self-deprecating.

Having just emerged from the darkness of postpartum depression, I find that I was only able to take a few gulps of fresh air, before descending into a fresh new circle of hell. How long will I remain here?

I have no fucking clue.

About the author

Glynis Ratcliffe

Glynis Ratcliffe

Glynis Ratcliffe used to be an opera singer, but after her daughter begged her to stop singing and be quiet for the millionth time, she decided to use her inside voice and write instead. Now she spends her time writing on her blog, The Joy of Cooking (for Little Assholes), about the important things in life, like potty training, eating too much Nutella and laughing at how ridiculous her kids are. You can find her writing on Scary Mommy, The Huffington Post and The Mid, as well.

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8 Comments

  • I understand you. Completely. I always struggled with my body weight. I’m overweight and I never really succeed to be… just weighted. But I had, before being pregnant, controlled my wiehgt and was pretty proud of myself. Then I had my child and was pretty surprise that, not only I hadn’t take on weight, I was actually losing it! The blessing of breast feeding…
    But now? Oh it’s hell. I had taken weight and double that. Not because of the pregnancy. no. Because I’m tired. At least that’s how I feel. I’m always tired, exhausted. On edge, feeling empty. So I eat. seeing my face in the mirror is not helping but, like you describe, I don’t seem to be able to stop to eat: bread, chocolate, peanut butter and chocolate… My only ‘control’ is that the junk I eat is a junk I make myself: toast with too much peanut butter and chocolate syrup, or honey and nut… but I eat and eat and eat… Anyway, just to tell you, you’re not alone. Just… I don’t know the recipe to get out of this. Not yet?

  • it is called addiction. Sugar additiction is a real thing. It is nasty! I quit sugar over a year ago but it’s like alcohol addiction you can’t go back, u can’t even have 1 drink or it all comes crumbling down. I am exactly where u are right now (again!)

  • This makes me really sad. I can’t relate to all of this, but I can relate to being ashamed of my body. My children are aged three and two. I worry so much about what they will learn about body image from me. I don’t want them to have the relationship with food I have. It’s awful. But I’m scared I won’t be able to hide the language and emotions I’ve always related to food body image and eating from them as they grow up. Thank you for writing x

  • Glynis I felt myself blinking back tears the entire time reading this because I can 100% relate. It’s so awful, and I know it’s awful, but can’t stop. Have you found any coping strategies? How are you doing now? I would love to have someone to walk through this with.