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The Truth Behind the Lies Of An Anorexic Mom

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Note:  This blog contains descriptions of eating disorder behaviors.  Although I have tried to be mindful in writing about specific behaviors, there are parts of  that may be difficult to read for those actively struggling with an eating disorder.  For support please see the "resources"page on this site.

  • sherrisacconaghi

Have you had times in your life that were stressful? Confusing? Unfulfilling? Have you tried to alleviate the stress or fill the void? Maybe numb out or reward yourself after a hard day? I started using food that way. My binges became less frantic and my restriction less compulsive. Food became more of a steady emotional crutch. Something I could lean on as I stepped from college into the real world and onto the path I had planned. Work, marriage, kids.

I got a job. Working with emotionally disturbed kids in a residential treatment facility, spending ten hours a day being cussed out, spit at, and cleaning feces off of bathroom walls. (Yes, a college degree was required for this although I never learned the art of fecal removal in any of my college classes). I often went out with my coworkers to “decompress” at the local pub after our shift ended at 11pm, drinking cocktails and munching on jumbo nachos until two in the morning. I’d sleep until noon, wake up and watch trashy talk shows. Repeat. I loved my coworkers (still do!)) but the job itself did not fulfill me. My weight climbed due to my late night antics preference of Sally Jesse Raphael over of exercise. My clothes got tighter, my body image sank.

Perfect time to get married. So I did, to J, my college boyfriend of four years. J was aware of my struggles with food and my body (I never let him touch my stomach), but having had a previous relationship with a woman who had an actual diagnosed eating disorder, Types of eating disorders, J's stories of her struggles left me convinced I just suffered from a lack of self-control. It didn’t help that the man could eat ANYTHING and not gain a pound. J was constantly making cakes and cookies, leaving half sitting on the counter, calling to me as only a warm, gooey brownie could. I’d have just one bite, and then another and then another until the pan was empty, only to be disgusted with myself for not being able to resist. Although a great guy, J was not THE ONE. (Yes, Polly you were right). Our interests were different, J craved challenge and adventure, I wanted stability and routine. That, coupled with our opposite work schedules, found us drifting apart. He began spending more time with his buddies from the National Guard, and I found comfort and connection with my girlfriends. And food.

But I was still on my scheduled path.

· Graduate. Check

· Get a job. Check

· Get married. Check

· Get a dog. Check

· Buy a house. Check

· Kids. Discussing. At least I was.

But it didn’t keep me from standing at the kitchen counter on more than one occasion, a box of Costco muffins, or a Quart of Cookies and Cream at the ready thinking, I want more than this life.

Getting Zoey ( see checklist) was the best decision J and I made. This dog lovingly hung with me for fifteen crazy years.

  • sherrisacconaghi

Soon after my junior year library chat with Katie, I started experimenting with what I now understand was a binge/ restrict cycle. (signs and symptoms). i had no idea I was toying with an eating disorder.

My brilliant plan looked like this. All the foods I usually felt guilty about eating I could now eat all in one day, often all in an hour. I looked forward to Friday and Saturday nights consuming slices of large doughy pizza , family size bags of M and M’s, half a dozen blueberry

muffins, and boxes Chips Ahoy cookies. I would go to an all you can eat Chinese buffet with

my friends only to sneak away later for a Big Mac and a hot fudge sundae. This with the promise to myself that Sunday I would, “be good.” I would start five days of food restriction coupled with early morning workouts at the local gym. Vomiting was not my thing. I physically could not get my body to do it. In retrospect, I think I believed that if I didn’t force myself throw up, then I didn’t really have a problem. So, I restricted food intake, meticulously counting calories in every tomato slice, and sprinkle of cheese. Even mustard would get a calorie count assigned to it. As it was 1990, the internet was not an easily referenced resource yet so I relied on a book called “Every Calorie Counts”. It was my Bible. ( I’m confident if I put half the effort into my school work as I did in counting calories I would have graduated top of my class). My weight ebbed and flowed but remained, in what is considered by the medical field, as a “healthy weight” for my height. What wasn’t healthy was the fact I was learning to ignore my body’s signals. I shoved my hunger cues aside like an annoying little sister, pretending they didn’t exist. What I ate and when I ate had nothing at all to do with physical hunger. When I binged, I felt happy. Euphoric. I didn’t stress about my C minus in Poly Sci, whether or not I should break up with the new boyfriend, or the fact I was twenty one years old and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Food became my drug.

My best friend Polly on the night I turned 21. She was beside me then and she is still by my side to this day.

  • sherrisacconaghi

If only. It was the mantra that played in my head as a teenager. If only my butt was smaller, I could wear Guess jeans, if only I was skinnier maybe (insert boy crush of the week) would ask me to the homecoming dance, if only I lost a few pounds I could run faster on the tennis court, if only,well, you get the point. In high school, I started to diet. The pork chop and coffee diet, the egg and carrot diet, shakes for breakfast and lunch followed by a Weight Watcher frozen entrée for dinner. I even joined my mom in the cabbage soup diet. Yes, I’d put up with being gassy if it meant being thin. However, as an active teenager who played on the varsity tennis team, I had an appetite. I enjoyed going to pizza with my friends after practice, not to mention the newly opened Haagen Dasz store in town. Needless to say, the diets didn’t stick for long. What I didn’t realize at the time was I was laying the groundwork for my unhealthy relationship with food and my body.

In college, at the University of Oregon, I was a walking example of the “freshman fifteen”. Late night pizza gatherings on the dorm room floor, a cafeteria with every sugar cereal denied to me at home (Captain Crunch….. Heaven), and drinking many red solo cups of warm beer in a fraternity basement. It added up. My already less than positive body image was plummeting and I had no plan. I knew I didn't want to diet but I didn't want to feel fat. I felt stuck.

Until my junior year. I was studying with my roommate, *Katie, (not her real name) in the library of the Gamma Phi house. Katie was munching on a carton of Chinese take-out and a jumbo chocolate chip cookie from Dunkin Donuts.

“How do eat all that?” I asked Katie, my stomach rumbling, feeling envious of my friend.

She looked at me with a half-smile on her face as if she had a secret she was dying to share. “I get rid of it,” she answered while making a motion to stick her finger down her throat.

“You mean like, throw up?” I asked incredulously. I had seen it on TV but never really met anyone who had done it before.

Katie nodded her head slowly and raised her eyebrows as if to say Wanna try?

Yes. I did.

A trip to Hawaii my freshman year in college. Oh how I dieted before that trip to feel bikini worthy. Would love to have those boobs now! ( The earrings can stay in 1987).



Thanks for your interest in Skinny: The Truth Behind The Lies OF An Anorexic Mom. I'd love to connect with you so feel free to get in touch and I will get back to you soon!

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