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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

It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around certain facts about anorexia but I have begun understand some of it. The book Decoding Anorexia, (a must read for anyone struggling with this disease) helped me to untangle some of my thoughts and beliefs about it. It states;

“The research is clear: Anorexia nervosa is fundamentally based in biology. Up to 86 percent of your risk for developing anorexia is genetic.”

Eight six percent of a person's risk for anorexia is genetic

The book goes on to explain, “genes generally increase or decrease the risk of developing the disease. This risk is subsequently influenced by the environment in which people live”.

My environment. Is that what was responsible for my struggle with Anorexia?

I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Raised by a mom who seemed to be always on a diet and was the queen of the Weight Watchers program, pre-Oprah. She had that point system down solid. The foods we had around the house were what I describe now as “fake food” with no fat, no calories and no taste.

· Tab. Apparently, the best-selling drink of 1982.

· Nonfat milk. Its translucent blueish hue ruining my rice Krispies (sans sugar of course).

· Ice milk. A crunchier, form of ice cream with less taste.

· Peach Melba shakes. Is not a substitute to the creamy deliciousness of McDonalds.

· Bowls of radishes in water. Ok that is a real food but hardly to an 11-year-old.

While other kids had Twinkies and Doritos in their lunch my mom packed Lisa and I one Keebler cookie as our treat, except for Girl Scout Cookie season, then it was TWO thin Mints. Was I on a diet too? Should I be? According what was meant as family joking, yes.

“Hey Sher you look like you are trying to shove ten pounds of potatoes in a five pound sack my Dad would often say then chuckle to himself. (Yes, he did really say that!) A comment I heard many in regards to how I looked in my softball uniform, my dance costume, my Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. Jeez thanks dad, because being a pre-teen girl isn’t hard enough.

As I began my recovery process from anorexia was willing to consider genetics and environment, but I wasn’t going to blame my parents (or radishes). Nope, I was not ready to let myself off the hook so easily.

  • sherrisacconaghi

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

I was not completely sold I had a problem when I made the appointment with a dietician in August of 2016. I knew I was very thin and I was becoming too accustomed to the double take some people make when they first meet me. At ninety-nine pounds and five foot eight, I was nervous on how this new dietician would react upon our first meeting. When Gretchen, a petite red headed woman, stylishly dressed in bold colors opened the front door of her office she greeted me with a warm smile, no hint of shock at my thin frame. Phew, Ithought, maybe this can be a one and done appointment, my mind already envisioning our conversation going in in a similar vein as those with my General Practitioner over the years.

“You know Sherri, you are fine you just need to gain a few pounds. Just eat more avocados and olive oil and see me again in a month”.

Ha! Wishful thinking on my part. At the end of our hour-long session, that was NOT what Gretchen said. Instead in a kind and gentle way but with a seriousness to her voice, Gretchen laid out the facts. It’s difficult to remember her exact words, the sound of my own panic pounding in my ears. I recall;

· Concerned for your life

· Malnourished

· Life-threatening and

· Treatment options

Words tumbling around in my head like letters in a Bingo game. I was having a hard time grasping this was me she was talking about.

Gretchen then leaned forwards in her chair, speaking in a deliberate manner, a look of compassion on her face, and said the words I will always remember “you did not cause your eating disorder, it is not your fault.”

My vision became blurry as the tears welled up in my eyes and threatened to spill out over my cheeks as I fought to hold them back. I wanted to believe this woman. I wanted to save face, to believe that I was not so vain, so weak ….so….so… stupid to get myself into this “life-threatening” position. But if it wasn’t my fault then who, how, why?

  • sherrisacconaghi

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

I’m a person with anorexia nervosa, or I was a person with anorexia nervosa, or as my dietician suggested, I’m a person recovering from anorexia nervosa. I'm trying to figure out what feels right as it rolls off my tongue. The word still feels awkward, like the new sports bra I bought online. It fits but I still need to break it in.

October 2016 the day I finally admitted to being an anorexic to someone other than myself, my husband, and my treatment team. I was so nervous. The heart pounding, sweat inducing, I can’t do this kind of nervous. The admission was to my two teenaged sons who were twelve and fifteen at the time. My therapist, Kirsten, encouraged me to be forthcoming with them about my disease so that they might gain some insight as to what the recovery process might mean for our family, (not to mention bring some relief that their bony, anxious, jittery mother might chill out). I sat there in Kirsten’s office, my youngest, Brennan, sitting close to me on the couch while my oldest son Dylan sat, with a glare only a teenager can emit, from the chair across from me. Apparently, this therapy session was cutting into his “hang out” time.

“So, you guys”, I began, still not certain the “A” word was going to make it out of my mouth, “I wanted to let you know that I have decided to go into treatment for an eating disorder, specifically, anorexia.”

There I said it! Feeling a mix of relief washing over my body. I took a deep breath and felt my muscles relax. The secret I had been hiding, (although not very well I would later realize) was out. But the relief was short lived and moments later I was engulfed by a sudden fear that, thanks to teenagers and social media, my anorexia might be all over Instagram by the time we left the office. I wasn’t ready.

“What?” Dylan shouted, “Mom you cannot have anorexia! That is a teenage girl THING.” The intensity in his voice made even Kirsten flinch a little.

I know, right?! I thought to myself. Dylan’s words hit right to the core of my own beliefs about the disease. A belief that kept me safe for years from having to admit I suffered from this “teenage thing”. Back before anorexia took hold of me, no one more than I was intrigued by a Lifetime movie about a bony teenager running fifteen miles only to come home and pretend to eat a sandwich prepared by her mom, but instead hiding it under her bed until she could throw it out later. I couldn’t wrap my head around how someone could let herself be so thin, so sneaky, so scared, so….. sick. How could someone let that happen?

But it happened. To me.

So here I am, wanting to share my journey, not only for my own healing but who knows, my story might resonate with someone, make them feel a little less crazy ( and man the disease can make you feel certifiable!) If one thing has gotten me through the past two and a half years it has been learning from others and the reassurance that I am not alone.



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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