How Dieting Led to An Eating Disorder

Maria Rainier has written this wonderful article for us today, and I’m so glad she has shared her story. Here’s what Maria has to say about her own struggle with an eating disorder…

As a renowned public speaker on disordered eating and gender rights, Geneen Roth has spent the last thirty years sending the message that the most common trigger of disordered eating is dieting.

The transition from one to another tends to be unconscious.

My Eating Disorder

The path to anorexia began for me, innocently enough, in my sophomore year in college, with Special K protein meal bars to save myself time between classes.

Even while meticulously counting calories consumed and burned on an online calorie calculator, I never doubted my physical and mental health.

What few calories I consumed, were burned off well into the night, as I madly worked out on a mini-Stairmaster, while reading mokra

Shakespeare assignments. Never mind the daily miles-long runs, and yoga that had long ceased to be meditative.

I ate organic vegetables and whole wheats, and not much else. If I grew hungry at night, I ate vitamins with salt to “make sure” that I was still getting nutrition while losing weight.

I won’t go into the psychology of disordered eaters, but to say the least, the obvious (that our habits are insane) become in-obvious, even to brilliant, success-oriented types, who are statistically more likely to become disordered eaters than average students and workers.

The more I denied myself comfort foods, the more I wanted.

At last, I began binging on Sundays alone in my dorm room, before purging into a trash can, with music blasting from my laptop computer to mask the sound.

Never once did it occur to me that I had become another statistic in my “Health and Wellness” textbook, which lamented the growing number of disordered eaters, and whom I pitied and scorned, even as I pushed a forefinger down my throat.

My personal relationships and scholastic grades suffered, I dreaded leaving the safety of my own room, and, weighing under 90 pounds, at 5’4”, I finally ceased menstruating.

I blamed it on academic stress for months, never doubting my vanishing body’s perfect condition.

How I Stopped “Dieting”

After over two years of active anorexia and bulimia, I listened to Geneen’s message: stop dieting.

Tell a kid to keep out of the cookie jar, and what is he or she going to do? Take a cookie (or three, or thirteen). It’s simple psychology.

I’m sure there are other ways to emerge from an eating disorder, but my method was Geneen’s — to eat what I wanted when I wanted it.

At first, I only wanted everything I’d denied myself for two years.

It’s no surprise that I gained twenty pounds in six months—it didn’t help that I was in Italy for the first time in my life—before my eating habits and weight resumed some shadow of normality.

The key was to listen to my body.

I already knew everything about nutrition—broccoli has fibre; bananas have potassium; spinach has vitamin A, vitamin K, and magnesium.

All I had to do was listen to my body for what it wanted, rather than what my starved eyes craved.

Keeping a food journal allowed me to reflect on my food choices and realize that I was getting as good a nutritional intake as I’d ever had in my life.

My Eating Now

I’m back to my natural, slender weight, and have never been healthier—this time, for real.

It is the body image that heals last. And, nearly four years later, most days, I’m okay. Others, I still need someone tell me that I need to eat.

I sadly don’t do yoga anymore because it reminds me of my old self-hate. I eat sweets every once in a while, but never when I’m unhappy, lest it remind me of old habits.

I’ve taken up meat again, generally only lean meats from local farmers, and I enjoy fruits for their juiciness, and as indicators of changing seasons, not for vitamin this or that.

I eat what I want, when I want, and it surprises me to this day that my body knows what it needs.

All I’ve done is learn to listen to it.

Do any of Maria’s comments sound familiar to you?

If they do, please speak to someone in your family, a trusted friend, or a health professional. Saying you need help is difficult, but there is a way out.

Maria is proof of this.

This can be your story too.

Email address

About Maria
Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various online degree programs. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Taleen September 28, 2010 at 2:19 am

I have not tried this ‘Geneen’s’ method, however, I agree wholeheartedly. Your body TELLS you what it needs. When you don’t eat enough and you are low in energy, it craves what it needs – quick, fast energy, high sugar foods..and lots of them…thus, people who don’t eat enough continually crave the ‘wrong’ foods. If we just listen to our body, it will tell us what it needs and what it lacks…….the only problem is having the courage to do so!


Melanie September 30, 2010 at 8:17 am

Hi Taleen,
The problem is often knowing how much to give our body, and as you say, it takes courage to trust your own hunger signals again.

The solution is to eat just what the body needs to feel satisfied, no more, no less. Learning to listen to, and to hear, the body’s signals can be difficult, but it will let us know what it needs when we “tune in”.

We all experience those times when quick, fast energy is needed — I’ve found the best way to avoid the cravings, is to eat regular, small meals or snacks, that are nutritionally dense and good for me.

BTW I made Kim Bap yesterday, I’ll put some pics up later!! :-)


Reham November 18, 2011 at 9:05 am

hi dear,
iam 24 years old egyptian, married to a loving man.
iam bulimic since 10 years, i started it when i heared the story of princess Diana, i was very sporty my coaches told me always that i need to loose weight, although i was the best in my team, so i decided to follow Diana steps, to eat what ever i like and to purge .puke till i faint.
i reached my goal, and became very sexy, with 174 cm and 60 kilos, full of muscles, what else can i wish..

After that my skin became very dry, became very nervouse, could not sleep well, my studying became harder, as i studies 5 hours daily, and i concentrated only for 1 hour or less.

I had always a bad headache, my stomach burns, and my teeth became very very weak..

I recovered and relapsed more tan 20 times.

I relapsed again since 3 days and i am still relapsing..

From my relapses i have learned that, hunger, being bored, or scared some times also happy will make food my comfort..i ran to food to fill my stomach in order to hide my feelings…

I started to ask my self, so i love my self?
do i wanna really be a skinny women or healthy women?\
what is the diffrence now, iam a big woman now..iam 87 kilos..?
Do i hate my body? my soul? or do i hate people who love skinny women and force me to be like them in order to gain respect?

Believe me, i do not care about any one now, all of my friends are telling me that i gained weight i was better when i was thin..

i just explained for the first 2 times, that iam happier now, iam healthier, and i will loose weight when i decide that not because of appearance, but for my health, and this issue will never be discussed with u or with my family..

i hope this will help ;)


Melanie December 2, 2011 at 9:57 am

Hi Reham,
Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s such a difficult thing to go though. I am so glad to hear how strong you feel now, and that you are able to respond to critics. I wish you all the very best for the future. Stay in touch :-)


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