Diet is a 4-Letter Word

The psychology of eating

Healing From My Eating Disorder

My 23-year journey with an eating disorder. No one's immune; not even me. Read More

So happy for you! Welcome to

So happy for you! Welcome to the wide world of awesomeness that is food. It's really good. Of course, never having had an eating disorder, I don't know how it feels, but I do know how wonderful a giant plate of beefy nachos is.
Hey, we're all going to die anyway, so what's up with the health obsession of so many people?! Moderation in everything...including moderation :)
Good luck to you! Very interesting article.

Thank you!

I am looking forward to it as well. I had beef and cheese this past week. Very different than my usual eating habits. Should be an interesting journey.

Hi, I just wanted to say

Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for opening up and telling your story on here. Your story really resonated with me. I've never really 'labelled' my eating habits but basically this is how I eat and behave and I get anxious if my 'ordered' eating and exercise regime is disrupted. Plus I have the addition of allergies (to soya and other beans) which along with the fear of putting on weight all adds to the reason I think I behave like I do. I've studied Nutrition in the past and worked in the food industry mostly within Marketing for over 12 years now. Being surrounded by food isn't a problem for me as I have, what I believe, strong will power and determination. I do think I have an addictive personality and I'm 'all or nothing' - for example I only have to do something once and if I believe it's good for me then it becomes a habit such as eating an avocado - might sound silly but I now do this everyday and pretty much at the same time everyday even though I'm not hungry. I also measure all of my complex carbohydrate foods making sure I stick to a set daily amount. However, I do believe I have a very healthy and varied diet compared to most people although perhaps I do actually eat too much fruit and vegetables (I fill myself up with lots of these foods plus protein)and not enough complex carbs. I guess I need to ask myself if this is a problem for me and if it's making me unhappy and unhealthy, and if so then I would need to make some changes. However at this moment in time I don't think it's making me unhealthy but probably if I'm honest making me unhappy as I'm restricting my life at times. More thought processing needed I think. Thank you again for this though provoking read :-)

I used to think the same thing

I thought I had the healthiest diet in the world - vegan and gluten-free. People always praised me on how healthy I ate. The problem was... I was doing it because of food allergies, yes, but also to subconsciously calorie restrict. Good luck to you!

Dying to eat

I like reading stories of what it used to be like and how it is now. It gives me a glimmer of hope. I have battled the monster of my eating disorder for 14 yrs now and I am scared to let it go. It is my enemy as well as serves as my best friend to fill the voids of fear and feelings. It's very easy to allow the thought of "just one" wont take me back to isolation, shame and self humiliation among other self destructive thoughts as it always seems to do.
I also struggled with an alcohol addiction of 10 yrs and am now sober 2 yrs thanks to the gift if desperation and utter defeat that my way wasn't working, so I filled that void of adopting another way.
Food is different. I have to eat to survive. I know that I am only living to eat and the obsessive thoughts and beliefs of my own "food rules" are governing the way I live my days.
I have looked into many Eating Disordered help places but they are all too expensive and due to the "high risk" factor of death help from any Insurance Co. wont assist in treatment. (Hello, if I get some treatment maybe I wont die!) I have not been able to get any profession help pertaining to this addiction. Frustrated and very discouraged with how to get some help.
Honestly, I've thought about seeing if Dr. Phil could help me out.
I've seen him help others when there's no money to get treatment.
Thank you Dr. Mary for opening your story for those of us who need it:)

getting help

Hi Sara,

Thank you for opening up. Most cities have low cost community clinics. Have you considered reaching out to a community clinic for therapy? There may also be therapists in your area that might agree to see you on a sliding scale fee... You shouldn't have to suffer through this alone.

keep my head up

Thank you replying back. I will do some research of finding a community clinic or out-reach place that has some help for a person like myself. The thought just occurred to me that I live in the recovery capitol of the world so there's GOT to be something.
Thank you so much...

Hang in there!

Keep me posted on your success!

Thank you

Thank you so much for opening up about your struggles, as as you know, secrets can help keep you sick. We have very similar stories, and I often feel like I'm to intellectually aware for my own good. I see the signs, I dispense the healing advice to others, yet I continue to ignore my own issues and simply brush them off as "how I am" instead of "how I have forced myself now to be."

My rambling is to say that your personal call to action is inspiring and I wish you good luck in your journey.

Thank you, Abby!

Good luck to you in your journey. It may not be easy, but with each step we take, we more forward in our path to healing. :)

Eating disordered personal trainer

Hi Mary,
I resonated with your story. I am a personal trainer and nutrition coach who finally admitted after 25 , that I had a major obsession and addiction to food and was exercising bulimically.. It has been difficult and humbling to go through this process, especially when you are considered the expert and role model for healthy habits
Thank you for your story. It has been a great inspiration to me.

Thank you!

My exercise addiction started 23 years ago. For me, that one's tougher to beat than the food issues... Good luck!


People often don't recognize or know about orthorexia--thanks for bringing it up. Eating disorders of all kinds run in my family and many of the men in the exhibit what I would consider orthorexia. I'm glad you were able to recognize and get help for your problem. My only problem with the article is that it sort of presents vegetarianism/veganism/etc as actual eating disorders (in my opinion). You certainly aren't the first, when I was finishing nursing school both vegetarianism and veganism were lumped in the textbook under the eating disorder section. As a vegan, I get it all the time as well, where people accuse me of having an eating disorder because I don't eat meat/dairy/eggs. I was bulimic for 13 years and actually going vegan is what helped me recovery when 10 years of counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy failed, because I was able to see food differently than in the past. Yes, often times eating disordered individuals will use the label vegan or vegetarian as masks, but being vegan or vegetarian is not an eating disorder of itself. Being in recovery, I find it mildly insulting when it is insinuated that how I eat now is disordered (that being vegan or vegetarian is on a checklist of eating disorder symptoms), when before when I ate a normal diet but threw it all up no one had any problems with what I ate. I just think it's unfair to perpetuate the myth of them being eating disorders when in fact the large majority of people who follow those lifestyles legitimately are concerned with health, ethics, and environmental concerns.


Hi Anne,

Thank you for your feedback. I wasn't trying to say that all vegans and vegetarians have eating disorders - certainly most of them do not. I was pointing out that some individuals who suffer from eating disorders turn to veganism/vegetarianism as a way to lose weight. Thus, it's more about your motive for your dietary choices. I told everyone when I decided to become first vegetarian and then vegan that I was doing it because it was healthy and better for the environment. In reality, while those things may be true, my real motivation had more to do with weight loss (and avoiding weight gain) than moral or environmental reasons.

Does that make sense?


I believe Veganism is the only way forward. There are many misconceptions about it, e.g. lack of protein, but they are all proved wrong very easily.

Veganism is both kind to your body and other animals too.

I have a blog over @ - if you wish to see what I've written



Hi Aasim,

I agree. I prefer eating vegan, but from an eating disorder perspective, we see many young girls adopting veganism as a way to calorie restrict and lose weight. There is a wrong way and a right way to do veganism - like any 'diet.' If all you eat on a vegan diet is vegetables and fruit, you won't get the nutrient content you need. Adopting a healthy vegan lifestyle, on the other hand, including seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, etc., is a perfectly healthy way to live.

Circle of Obsession

Hi Mary,

I have just recently completed a 10 week PHP and IOP program to get help for my bulimia. I'm not sure it helped in the way that I thought it would..
I thought I was going there to understand about my eating disorder, talk about the deeper inner issues of what's really going on inside myself. But maybe I didn't grasp the whole point because I left everyday feeling like there is everything wrong with the way I deal with people and that I have to FIX ME. I am in general a very kind person, but I my personality somehow sucks(is what I have gathered) but I know it doesn't. I'm left with a whole lot of confusion as to who I am and what kind of a person am I, still acting out and paralyzed by fear of everyone, and letting someone in so I don't get hurt.
Don't get me wrong as it was a good program(if you get what to do with it). I'm totally lost in getting thru this disordered lifestyle.
I see a therapist once a week that helps me thru small stuff to start out, which is good. I also have a sponsor who has agreed to help me thru twelve steps, which worked for her, and I do as she says but its very slow going..
I just needed to at least tell somebody how I'm feeling cuz I don't talk much with others. I'm very stuck in commitment of action, but not sure how to. Thanks for allowing me to share and thank you everyone for your input too.

Hang in there!

Hi Sara,

I am so sorry you are going through this. Eating disorders are, in their own way, a coping mechanism - they change the way you think, act, and behave toward others. So yes, to some extent, healing your eating disorder may involve changing the way you interact with yourself. But this isn't where you necessarily need to start - you first have to heal your relationship with yourself first.

There are many resources out there I can suggest. What is your number one issue right now that you feel is impeding your progress?

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Mary E. Pritchard, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Boise State University.


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