I Overcame My Eating Disorder By Treating It As A 'Friend'

I hated myself, but I couldn’t stop.

having an eating disorder courtesy of the author

I always hated the way my body looked. I always hated the way my face looked, the way my voice sounded, and how these feelings controlled my life. I also hated that I didn’t know the cause for all this.

Was I riddled with insecurities at a young age because of family dysfunction? I don’t know, maybe. All I know is that as far back as I can remember, food was the way I would cope.

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If I felt bad, I’d have a snack; if I felt good but felt bad for feeling good, I’d have a snack. If I needed to stop myself from speaking at the dinner table or else my father might punish me, I’d stuff my mouth with food.

Food quickly became my drug and permanently ingrained in my body's hard drive. For about 10 years, I didn’t even realize that what I had was an eating disorder.


I first developed an eating disorder when I was 11 years old. Binging and purging — that was what I did on a daily basis. It wasn’t until after a traumatic assault that I saw exactly how my eating habits affected me. I found comfort in food, but I also discovered fear and panic.

If I didn’t know what I was going to eat, I’d have an anxiety attack and then decide not to eat anything at all because finding something was just too much to handle. If I ate a meal and then felt bloated afterward, I’d have the overwhelming need to purge. It was a never-ending cycle.

I never spoke about this addiction to anyone because I actively hid it. One time, I even purged while out with friends on my 22nd birthday because I felt bloated and sick and sad. I pretended that I had too much to drink and that was the reason I was spending 20 minutes in a dirty bar bathroom. Then I returned to the bar to eat some more. I lied about being drunk. I hated myself, but I couldn’t stop.

I would even pretend that the migraine medication I'd take on occasion, would upset my stomach to the point that I'd be forced to purge. It did upset my stomach, but not to the point of purging. The truth is, I'd get migraines due to stress and one thing would lead to another. 


It wasn’t until I was a little older that I heard other people talk about having eating disorders. A girl I knew in school confessed to me how she wouldn’t eat for days at a time and then she’d binge. She laughed it off with such normalcy that it convinced me I was normal.

I continued binging and purging. When I was 20 years old, I was encouraged to watch my weight by a teacher in my acting conservatory who said, “You know, on camera, one pound looks like five.” I took stool softeners and laxatives to speed up my bowel movements. I didn’t want anything in my system.

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I began taking green tea tablets which supposedly speed up your metabolism, and I picked up smoking. For breakfast, I’d have coffee and a cigarette; for lunch, a cigarette; at dinner time, I’d be so hungry I’d eat my weight to the point I didn’t even have to make myself purge, I just did.

These days, I'm better at paying attention to my recovery, though relapse is always around the corner. When you have an addiction like this, it is almost the same as if you are a drug addict who needs a fix.

Acknowledging my disease took some time for me. Thankfully, I've never been hospitalized. I did tell my doctor vaguely during an annual check-up that I wasn't eating much, and when I did, I'd hate myself or throw up. She didn't really offer any advice other than "Sometimes we get bloated." 

I was at a loss and was embarrassed to seek help. I looked online for self-help articles and "how-to" guides, and eventually realized the common denominator with all of these resources was finding a balanced and healthy routine. I'm the kind of person who accomplishes what I set my mind to, but this wasn't easy to accomplish.


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I remember waking up one day taking a hard look in the mirror and accepting what my addiction and disease had become. I now know that when I am triggered by a terrible memory or insecurity, or the fact that my day was so busy I forgot to eat, I will seek out this destructive behavior. I still do.

But I have forced myself to make an effort to become friends with my disease.

Once I did that, it was a powerful step. It’s almost the equivalent of “self-care.” People think of “self-care” in terms of treating yourself to a spa day or taking yourself out on an expensive dinner date. Those things are all good and dandy, but they also serve as an escape.


Currently, I'm obsessed with food — but in a different way. I cook and have learned to cook pretty well. I enjoy grocery shopping, browsing the aisles, trying new recipes, and having control. This is key. It is therapeutic and a ritual. I’m choosing to put food into my body. I am making a conscious choice to eat.

When I say obsession, I do kind of mean it. I need to know what I’m eating and when. I need to make sure it’s not too late or too early. I have to plan for it because if I don’t, I might pick up a tub of ice cream and chips from my corner deli and binge.


I don’t know where the addiction comes from. Maybe it’s hereditary? I know my mother struggles with one. Maybe it’s society? Maybe it’s my own doing? I know that when I look in the mirror some days, I'm in love with my body, but other days I hate it and wish I could take a pair of scissors and cut off my skin.

Exercise does help give me a better outlook on who I am inside and out. But it’s a daily and deliberate process. Recovery is seeing your addiction for what it is and deciding to treat it with love.  

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Becca Beberaggi is a NYC-based writer and comedian. She has written for various online publications.