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Almost Anorexic

Food became to be all about control. I never ate a single thing without debate and anxiety. Not eating at all occurred to me more times than I care to admit. There were times when I would sabotage my eating just so I could turn to restrictive eating, a situation that I knew I could control. The more restrictive the better. Click through to http://jillconyers.com to read the full story.

Surprised by the title of this post? Trust me. When I heard the words eating disorder in a sentence about me I was shocked.

My relationship with food became problematic and it lead me down a very destructive path. My food choices were no longer about being healthy.

For months I debated whether or not to share my experience. I was embarrassed. I kept thinking about the number of clients I’ve worked with over the years that struggled with eating (with and without a formal diagnosis of an eating disorder).

How could I have not seen this coming?

So, I stopped debating and knew that if I was meant to share this I would know when.

The when is now. I’m less embarrassed and I’ve forgiven myself for doing this to my body and the people that I love.

I’m sharing this with the hope that my story will be helpful to others.

Almost anorexic falls under the a little known class of eating disorders know as OSFED, Other Specific Feeding or Eating Disorder (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition) includes five subtypes of eating disorders that do not meet the diagnostic criteria. One of those subtypes is atypical anorexia in which a person has features of anorexia without low weight.

The almost effect describes problems (in this case an eating disorder) when the problem

  1. falls outside of normal behavior but falls short of meeting the criteria for a particular diagnosis, anorexia;
  2. is causing identifiable issues for individuals and/or others in their lives;
  3. may progress to a full blown condition meeting accepted diagnostic criteria.

The gray area between normal eating and [a full-blown disorder] is home to a great deal of pain and suffering.

Looking back I can clearly see how I created an unhealthy relationship with food.

Food became to be all about control.

I never ate a single thing without debate and anxiety. Not eating at all occurred to me more times than I care to admit. There were times when I would sabotage my eating just so I could turn to restrictive eating, a situation that I knew I could control.

The more restrictive the better.

Where am I now?

  • My only dietary restriction is gluten free (for medical reasons I will continue to eat gluten free)
  • My preference is still vegetarian meals (what can I say, I love fresh veggies!)
  • I can eat chicken and fish when I want to, but the thing is, I don’t want to.
  • I have found a balance.
  • I’m chasing my dreams and living life with a whole new perspective
  • At first it was hard, but now, eating without restriction is a relief.
  • I don’t think about food 24/7.
  • I’m laying off the food “challenges”, cleanses, resets, etc. for a while. As great as the programs can be, right now I would be doing them for the wrong reasons.

Not everyday is perfect. Some days are a struggle, but I’m able to see the disordered eating thoughts for what they are and I stop them before they become actions.

This information is not intended to be advice of any type. I am sharing information and my experience and offering a light on a very dark path.

Please talk to a doctor or therapist if you think you or someone you know has an unhealthy relationship with food.

Resource:
Almost Anorexic Is My (or My Loved One’s) Relationship with Food a Problem? by Jennifer Thomas, PhD and Jennie Schaefer (Amazon)

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124 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this and being so open! Whenever I went to school to become a dietitian, I ended up struggling with my nutrition. It felt SO weird.. I kept thinking, I am learning all this stuff, why am I turning to these negative behaviors? But, I was being WAY too restrictive and would binge because of it. Sometimes knowing too much can backfire and your body tries to bring you back to a balance. Perfection is NEVER the answer! SOOO many women struggle with this so it is important for people like you and me to share our experiences. Thanks a TON!

  2. This was a brave post. As someone who existed in the limbo of “EDNOS” for a long time, I think sometimes there is the feeling that if one isn’t “sick enough” to earn the diagnosis of AN then they must be fine. It’s easy to convince yourself that you aren’t disordered and you can continue along whatever destructive path you are on. Recognizing when things are out of control and taking the steps to reclaim balance and health is huge.

    1. Thank you Brenda. I was really good at convincing myself it was all in the name of being healthy.

  3. Jill, thank you for being so open. I imagine this was a very difficult post to write, but it’s an important one! Posts like this will help people realize that unhealthy relationships with food don’t always fit into a specific category, and will help those that struggle with eating in any which way find a good support system. You are so strong and fabulous! Keep on moving, nourishing, and believing in yourself :).

  4. it’s great to hear you are working through this as it’s not an easy thing. I think all of us, as women, deal with this on some level or not though some get it harder than others. I guess we just have to work on growing through self-love and compassion. Great post <3

  5. Wow, what an amazing post. I am amazed at your courage I post this and admit it publicly. I am proud of you for even noticingn and taking action. Praying for you,

    1. Admitting publicly was hard but I’m so glad I did. I’ve stopped feeling so alone. Thank you Mary.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Jill. At certain times in my life, I have fallen into the “almost anorexic” category, too, with food being a source of anxiety. When it seemed I had no control in life, that was the one thing that I thought I could control. Even now that I feel more “free” from this issue, it is still a daily battle to not allow food to rule me.

    1. I know exactly what you mean Amy! Some days are so hard especially if it a stressful day. Old habits try to sneak back in.

  7. Wow, this was wonderful. I think it will inspire a lot of people. “The gray area …” quote got me.

  8. Thanks for sharing your story Jill, please feel free to reach out to me if you ever want to talk. I battled anorexia in university and to be honest in many ways I still battle it. A strong support person and talking about it are the best ways to cope. I’m glad to hear that you’ve recognized your symptoms and are making steps to progress.

    1. I almost emailed you this week Janice. Things are going fine and then bam old habits try to sneak back in. It passes but at the time it’s so hard.

  9. Thank you for sharing you story and bringing light to this! I wholeheartedly agree that the “almost” eating disorders can be just as traumatizing, if not more than full-blown identifiable eating disorders. The confusion that accompanies them must be difficult to deal with. Keep inspiring others with your story! 🙂

  10. I commend you on having the bravery to share your story Jill! It’s very courageous of you to speak out about this despite your reservations. I’m sure it will help many women out there who are also struggling and unsure if they meet the criteria for an actual eating disorder. And congratulations on overcoming this disorder!

  11. Thanks for sharing your story Jill. I think it is so important to get this kind of information out there so that those who struggle know that they are not alone

  12. Definitely no need to be embarrassed, as I literally don’t know a single woman (and more men than you’d think too) who hasn’t struggled with either a major eating disorder or a bout of disordered eating/obsessive exercise. People of all ages and backgrounds. It’s completely about fear, control and also shame I think. The more people talk about it openly the better for everyone!

    1. You’re so right Michelle. Talking about it (sharing) helps and the more we do the more others will.

  13. I think 90% of women have been in your shoes. I know I have. Out of fear of my health. I didn’t know how it was react to my body. But we push thru and get health! Like you did!

  14. Jill I applaud you for coming forward to share this – I cannot imagine it was an easy thing to do. I’m sorry you found yourself on this path but am so glad you have overcome this challenge and on a healthy course!

    1. Thank you Michelle. It was so hard. That’s why I just waited. If I was meant to share I would know.

  15. Thank you for sharing your story Jill. I am happy that you are now working towards a better relationship with food and that you giving attention to this important topic.

    1. Thanks Brie. It’s so interesting how common this topic is but we don’t talk about it. Is it taboo?

  16. It’s so easy to forget to pay attention to ourselves when we focus so much on others. Thank goodness you are more aware and happy and healthy 🙂

  17. It’s unfortunate that sometimes we end up doing more harm than good trying to do the RIGHT things! I had a similar experience, but I considered it orthorextia rather than almost anorexia. I wrote about it here: http://www.winetoweightlifting.com/crossfit-paleo-orthorexia/

    But basically happened when I switched to paleo eating, then it was like my life revolved around food to where it was restricting things outside of food. I would get anxiety about going out places because I didn’t know what was in the food or drinks. Dating was a nightmare.

    Sometimes we can only be the bets version of us that we can be.

    Thanks for sharing the honest post and happy you are finding a comfortable balance!

    1. Jennifer I know! My family likes the 4 of us to go out to eat occasionally. Something I one time loved and enjoyed became a source of stress and anxiety for me. My vegan experience was your paleo. I’m off to read your post.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing both the struggle and the triumph in your life. So many people don’t realize that disordered eating has such a large grey area around it.

    1. I had not idea there was a grey area in between healthy eating and disordered eating. That’s me. Right smack dab in the middle of grey. Slowly moving toward healthy and further away from disordered.

  19. Thanks for sharing this Jill. I can’t imagine that it was easy but I know that there are a lot of people out there, myself included, that can identify and have (or continue to) struggle with this. I’m happy that you’ve been able to come to a good place and are happy.

    1. Thank you Christine. It wasn’t easy, but in the end it was such a huge relief to not feel so alone and keeping it bottled up inside.

      Truly happy 🙂

  20. Thank you for sharing your story, Jill! Congratulations for overcoming such a difficult struggle. I’m rooting for you!

  21. I think it’s great that you are self aware enough to see that you were headed down the wrong path and you are taking action for it! It’s so hard to see things in ourselves sometimes. Proud of you for sharing your experience!!

    1. Thank you Heather. My ortho says I’m hyper-aware of my body LOL then he said it’s a runner thing 🙂

      I just didn’t see it coming. Nothing added up to an eating disorder in my eyes.

  22. Good for you for putting it out there– great post and great information! I have learned to not label the wayI eat but to simply find balance and enjoy it!

    1. Thank you Laura. Balance is my goal. It’s so strange. Some days I fight the temptation to restrict my eating or find a label. It’s all so crazy. I’m getting better and healthier everyday. I’m so grateful for friends like you <3

  23. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your story. I think there are so many people that struggle with their relationship with food but are too afraid to admit it. I know you’re more than strong enough to overcome this bump in the road and have so much support behind you. xoxo

    1. Thank you Brittany. I’m finally beginning to feel like I am strong enough. <3

  24. Good for you for realizing an unhealthy pattern and taking the steps needed to do what’s right for your body! Sending lots of love your way. <3

  25. Thank you for sharing this struggle with all of us Jill! I know in this fitness area, it is easy to get caught into the what we are supposed to do and eat. I’m thankful for you that you caught this and focused on health! I know it isn’t an easy journey but we are here for you!! Hugs!!!

    1. Thank you so much Nancy. For the first time in all of this I don’t feel so alone.

  26. Thank you for sharing! This is such a great post! I’ve defintiely been here, but until reading your post, I had no idea there was an eating diorder that wasn’t quite anorexia (if that makes sense).

    1. Same here Ange! No idea there as a gray area between normal eating and disordered eating. Really kind of fascinating.

  27. Thank you for sharing your story. I find myself not able to do food “challenges” either because I become obsessive and that is not good for me mentally or physically.

    1. Maureen, that is something I should have noticed a long time ago with challenges. Contrary to obsessive I was complimented for being disciplined and controlled. Looking back it was unhealthy and obsessive.

    1. If my sharing helps even one person it will all be worth it. Thank you Dannii 🙂

  28. I think it’s sooo great that you shared this Jill!! It’s strange how we think our ‘weaknesses’ will make us look bad, and make people not like us. I think on the contrary, it gives people hope and encouragement. Especially since someone as wonderful and influential as you, can struggle too, just like everyone else.

    You continue to be extremely amazing and will continue to change the world with your amazing story and encouragement!

    1. Kirtley you are so sweet. Thank you so much for your kind words.

      Weakness + vulnerability = very scary place. But less so when you no longer feel alone.

  29. Though the subject is kept “quiet” most of the time, I love that you shared. As a fellow “eating disorder” gal myself, I understand your story. Years of missing meals, starving myself, taking pills, laxatives, and wanting to be in control of my body and what went into it and how much, just was not healthy. In and out of therapists and even a hospital at one time, just did not hit me until much later. I love that we are able to embrace ourselves now and learn from the experience of something so scary.

  30. Jill–I’m really sorry you went down this path, but I’m so glad to hear you are getting better. I think being immersed in the HLB world it is probably fairly easy for people to end up this way–seemingly everyone in this arena is restrictive and it’s quite often not healthy. Keep up the good work with getting and staying healthy!

    1. Thank you Amanda. It’s eye opening to look back and realize how restrictive I became. Mealtime became a source of tears.

      Getting healthier day by day 🙂

  31. Thank you for sharing this post! I am so sorry you went through this, but am glad Lorna Jane was able to have such an impact and get you back to a healthy point. <3

    1. It’s kind of amazing Heather. I’d never heard of Lorna Jane until exactly the time I needed to. Her philosophy was life changing for me. Is that crazy?

  32. Thanks for sharing Jill! I hav ehad my bouts with eating disorders and knwo they are not a fix at all

    1. Not only are they not a fix they make matters worse. Day by day moving forward 🙂

  33. What an amazing share. I feel like I have a friend who may be traveling down this path and I want to approach her about this. Any suggestions on how to go about that?

    1. That’s tough Rosi. If it were me, I would want a friend to point out the big picture and where it was leading. I get so caught up in the details I sometimes miss the big picture and I think that is part of what happened here. Individual/separate behaviors themselves were not alarming but put them all together and the red flags were waving.

      I’m happy to chat if you’d like. Depending on where your friend is at this point she might need you to say something. Maybe save her some heartache.

  34. So many of us can relate to this. We are taught that one of the ways to “fix” what is going on in our lives is to seek control, and increasingly nowawdays, to seek control in our food. I am so happy for you that you have found the happiness inside yourself to make yourself happy.

    1. Thank you Susie. I craved control for so many reasons. No more…or maybe for now I should just say much less and not as often 🙂

  35. Jill I think it’s great that you shared your struggles with your readers. I struggled with ED in college and then went on to get my degree and specialize in working with ED sufferers. It was a very difficult time and not an easy thing to recover from. Sharing your struggles can help others seek help and realize that it is not taboo and that help is out there. Wish we really could have coffee to chat about it-maybe one day 🙂

    1. Deborah coffee would be wonderful. It’s a hard situation no matter what but it’s even harder when you feel like you’re alone and keeping it bottled up inside you.

        1. 🙂 I don’t feel alone! And I’m not even embarrassed anymore. By no means am I proud but beating myself up about it only made matters worse.

    1. Thank you Brittany! Sharing was a weight lifted from my shoulders and I felt like I could breathe again.

  36. It’s brave to share something like that, Jill – I’m glad you got it out. Just remember that you’re not alone and we are all here to help each other! I’m glad that your relationship with food has become more healthy and nourishing. Keep up the awesome work!

    1. Thank you Ruthie <3 Pushing publish was scary. For most of the day after I debated with regret. A little too much vulnerability at first. Then it was such a relief to no longer keep it buried inside.

  37. Jill, as always, your posts are an inspiration to many. It isn’t easy to share this type of story, and it can be embarrassing, but there is nothing for you to be embarrassed about. Instead, you should be proud, and your story can be used to inspire others, to be honest with themselves, loved ones, and others. You are so strong, and have come so far, and a source of light not only for me, but many others. Keep shining, keep moving, nourishing, and believing <3I am sending you an email, answer when you have the time <3

    1. Hi Amber. I just replied to your email. Things happen for a reason and there was a reason our paths have crossed. Now I know why. Thank you my friend <3

  38. I think it is great you are able to share. I am also glad you found something to hold onto and pull you back to realizing that your eating didn’t need to be so structured or nonexistent. Thanks for sharing your story so that others who may be in the same boat can know they can recover and get back on track.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Jodi. I hope sharing my story will be helpful to others. Even if it’s just one person my sharing was the right thing to do.

  39. Thanks for sharing this Jill. I think this is a very lesser known but just as important problem we currently have in out society. There are so many women that probably unknowingly have similar issues. In my previous job I worked with those having eating disorders and one of the best things I saw was a reflection from themselves and seeing the same things you did. So thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Thank you Hollie. I truly hope my sharing will be helpful to someone. You don’t realize you’re moving in the direction of disordered eating until it affects your life and happiness.

  40. Yes, that is a little scary Jill, and yes, surprising, but just goes to show how much we can hide our true feelings from our blog. I guess this shows just what face to face interaction allows us to see, compared to reading a blog online. That is brave you were able to share your story, and I am sure you feel much better now. I think all girls go through some of these thoughts, no matter what they say. I definitely worry about my weight a lot, especially when I line up next to these elites who look like the women in the magazines, it doesn’t make me feel good about myself, but I try to think about long term health, rather than short term happiness or comments of looking good.

    Thank you for this, very brave, and we are here for you!

    1. Nobody realized it Tina. Not even my husband. I was hiding not because I wanted to present myself as perfect. I was too embarrassed and ashamed to share.

      Do I feel better? I’m not sure. Right now feel like I’ve placed myself in such a vulnerable position. I’m getting there but vulnerability is still hard to embrace.

      Thank you Tina 🙂

  41. It’s hard to admit this and harder to say it out loud, but once we do it is almost like an elephant is removed from our backs and we will FREE. I’m glad that you decided to open up, because so many of us have been there. Women are SO HARD on themselves. We need to focus more on nourishing, living, and enjoying life. XOXO

    1. You’re so right!!! At first sharing was a place that left me way too vulnerable and then it’s like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I think sharing was one last step to feeling unstuck. I’m finally moving forward.

  42. Thanks for sharing Jill, I’m sure this was not easy to tell the world and to openly admit. I’m proud of you for talking about it openly and working hard to get better.

    1. Thank you Christine. It’s kind of ironic that I feel like this all started with wanting to be a better runner. Little did I know…..

  43. I think there is another diagnosis called EDNOS?(Eating disorder not otherwise specified)?

    I think every dieter at some point has exhibited some eating disorder tendencies, but haven’t gone so far down the path as to cross the path of “no return”, aka full blown eating disorder. Diagnosis or not, if you need help, then you need help weather that be through the hospital or not. Some people have found a way out themselves. Thank you for sharing this heartfelt post–and there’s nothing to be ashamed of–we’ve all been down that path and at some point turned around, like you did!

    1. EDNOS is an older diagnosis per the DSM IV manual – in the updated manual, it is now labeled as OSFED. But, they are the same thing.

      EDNOS has been my diagnosis as I fit the criteria for an eating disorder with the exception of extremely low weight. At my lowest weight, medical charts claimed I was ok and within the healthy range for my height. However, to maintain that weight, I had to use extreme measures (restriction, lots of exercise including, yes, running) to stay at that place. I developed amenorrhea twice in my life trying to maintain what was supposed to be a healthy weight, and I felt miserable. Three years later, I am heavier but much healthier. I’ve given up running (mainly because of a chronic foot problem) but have kept exercise in my life for enjoyment and health, not for competition or being skinny, or hell, even fit. I eat whatever I want – from carrots to carrot cake. The liberation makes so much sense in my life and I wish everyone could find that place.

      Thank you for opening up about this – if we all focused on doing what made us happy, instead of what we feel we’re “supposed” to do, like eating certain foods, looking a certain way and maintaining a lifestyle set up by society, we’d all be better off. I may not be what society or our culture likes to see, but my health and wellbeing are finally in check.

      1. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts Jill. I’ve looked back to a time that I was happiest and healthiest. Going back to basics of what I know to be true.

  44. Thank you for sharing this, Jill! I read many blogs of people who I feel have some level of eating disorder (in fact I stopped reading many for this reason) and hide behind “healthy”, “fit”, etc. I had an eating disorder in high school and disordered eating for many years past that. My new deal is “eat as much real food as possible.” It works. I am not obsessed with every bite. And I do the best I can to fuel and enjoy. Again, thank you and good luck in your journey!

    1. Thank you Erica! Do you think many people realize their “healthy eating” may be disordered eating in disguise? It’s crazy how it happens and you don’t realize it until it starts to interfere with life and happiness.

  45. Jill, I am so glad you shared this. I think anyone who has been in the fitness industry or has been training to a level that you have, for any amount of time, has struggled with this. I’m positive it will help SO MANY people and you are very brave for putting this out here and opening yourself up. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but it’s appreciated. Thank you for your honesty! Move.Nourish.Believe!

    1. Thank you for your kind and supportive words Allie. I was just sitting here second guessing myself for sharing. A level of vulnerability that is totally throwing me off.

      Have a wonderful weekend my friend.

  46. Wow, Jill! That’s a lot to overcome! You have such a great look at it and allow yourself grace by understanding that some days are better than others. Your diet sounds so healthy and clean too. I struggled with disordered eating for years and found that lifting weights was my liberation. I’m not sure why but it has really helped me see myself in a different way.

    1. Thank you Sami. That’s how I feel about running. My diet is healthy…now 🙂

  47. Thank you for sharing today. I know sometimes it isn’t easy to admit this kind of stuff, especially on the internet but sometimes doing so helps understand and clear the thoughts even better. So many people fail to realize that there are other eating disorders not classified as the typically known disorders. And, so many people fall down the path without even trying. When I dealt with amennorhea many years ago (early 20’s), I don’t think I realized there was something wrong with my eating. I wasn’t anorexia (never missed a meal) and I wasn’t bulimic (never ever purged). But something was wrong with my eating. I wasn’t eating enough and really focused wayyyy to much on every morsel. I am glad I figured all that out and reached the point I have been at for years. But I do think it’s a constant thing we all need to remember and balance because it is a slippery slope. Have a great weekend.

    1. Thank you so so much Meredith. There were times when it [irrationally] felt like it only me. I’m getting there 🙂

      Have a wonderful weekend!

    2. Thank you Meredith! I knew something was wrong. Some of the unhealthy tendencies are a daily thought but it’s getting better. One day at a time.

  48. Thank you for sharing your story Jill! It’s scary but I’m sure there are a lot of people who can relate to it. I know I’ve had tendencies similar to it in the past!

    1. Thank you Angela. If what I shared was helpful to 1 person it was the right thing to do. Vulnerability and all.

  49. great information- I did not realize they were so many differences. I am glad that you are feeling better about it! Happy Friday Jill!

    1. So many emotions so it’s taken me a while to reply to comments on this post. Thank you Mary Beth. In such a good place now 🙂

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