The Disordered Eating Epidemic

Find out the new generation of abnormal eaters (hint: it’s not your daughter’s).

by Shelley Levitt
Photograph: Photo: Levi Brown

That was a wake-up call. I started seeing a therapist who specializes in eating issues. I recognized that while I don’t meet all the criteria for ­anorexia—I’m not missing periods, for one thing—my disordered eating was ruling my life. I also came to see that my unhealthy relationship with food was just a symptom of my pursuit of perfection in all areas of my life. I hadn’t earned the nickname “The Bulldozer” from my colleagues for nothing. I thought if I worked hard enough, I could produce the perfect report, the perfect body, the perfect me.

Today I consider myself someone in recovery who’s on the road to normalizing her eating habits. I hadn’t had breakfast in 20 years, but I’m starting to have Ensure and a bit of oatmeal in the morning. I still find it difficult to order in a restaurant, and I have bread and low-fat cheese for lunch because a cooked meal at midday triggers self-loathing. I’ve also been taking at least one day off from working out every week. I’m trying to learn to be more compassionate toward my body, and I think I have crossed a threshold.

Where to Get Help

National Eating Disorders Association

Academy for Eating Disorders

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

The Duke Center for Eating Disorders

University of North Carolina Eating Dis­orders Program

Harris Center for Education and Advocacy in Eating Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital

Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders

Further reading

Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How to Stop by Cynthia Bulik, PhD

The Body Myth: Adult Women and the Pressure to Be Perfect by Margo Maine, PhD, and Joe Kelly

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