This is probably the longest post you will read on my blog but its very important because it has made me who I am. One of my greatest accomplishments is making it though this. So here is…
My Disordered Eating Story
For as long as I can remember I was on a diet. I was on a diet before I even knew what a diet was. Since I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 6, there wasn’t a time I was not aware of what I was eating. I got used to not being able to have foods that I loved. The food I loved most was sweets. I had a major sweet tooth before I was diagnosed. After I was diagnosed I actually did very well with them. I was told not to have them therefore I didn’t. I only had a sugary treat when I was low. I loved those treats so much I would savor every single bite. It would take me a ½ hour to eat one cookie. Yes a ½ hour – taking teeny tiny bites. Eventually I was able to have a one treat at night – they were always Dutch Mill donuts (I don’t even think they are around anymore). I loved them – my mouth would water thinking about having one after dinner.
I was an active, healthy kid. I didn’t “crave” food. I had friends that would sneak food and I didn’t understand why they did it. It wasn’t until I was 11 things changed. I remember I would walk home from the bus stop which was 2 blocks from my house. My backpack was always very heavy. I remember going low every day at this time. I would walk into my house and eat everything sugary in site. I wasn’t a binger yet so I would stop. But as horrible and as long as that walk home from the bus stop felt I liked eating the sugar when I got home. It felt like a “free pass” to eat what I wanted – I guess that is why I didn’t address it and went on like that every day.
When I was in 8th grade I was a Lanky, tall, awkward teenager. I had a bad haircut, bad glasses and I was shy. I was not “cool” at all. At this time it wasn’t cool to be uncool either. This is when my body issues crept in. I didn’t think I was fat. I was 5’7” and weighed 120lbs. However, I couldn’t understand why my friends wore a size zero and I was a size 5. So, I went on my first diet – Atkins (it was popular at this point). I Lasted 3 days. 9th Grade is when I started to pay more attention to what I ate – I started losing more control when I was low (especially at night) and 10th grade is when I really started to diet and also when I started to care less about my blood sugars. I wish I could go back in time and change my thoughts. At this point I grew into my height – I had a great body, I had friends and attention. However, inside I was still shy, insecure and hated being T1D so I felt the need to change myself through dieting. Only, my idea of a diet was eating one bun with fat free cheese a day and I would also eat low fat ice cream with a bunch of fat free cool whip. This was 1995 and the less calories and fat you ate the better. Eating barely any calories and fat led me to – you guessed it – BINGE! I tried seeing nutritionists and they basically told me I could only eat veggies and meat. NO SUGAR. So I accepted that I could never be a good diabetic – plus I loved my ice cream. By the time I finished High School I was 15 lbs heaver, I had cellulite and I was starving myself then binging. Oh I also smoked, worked at clubs, drank and I wanted nothing to do with my diabetes. My issues with never having sweets, dieting and the feeling I got when I would “let go” ie “binge” (eat massive amounts of sweets and calories) took over.
After I graduated high school I wanted to fit into those size 7 short shorts I wore when I started dieting in 10th grade (I was a size 9 at that point). So I went on Weight Watchers – a “healthy diet” that was also known for being good for diabetics. It worked – I loss those 15 lbs. in a month and had better blood sugars – I felt AMAZING! I was back to wearing tiny shirts (this was the late 90’s so that’s what you wore in the club). I was on top of the world. Then I started binging again – so I went back on weight watchers. By the time I was 21 I did Weight Watchers about 20 times. I always said no to anything bad – pizza, cake etc. but then I would break down and eat a whole pizza and a whole cake with out of control blood sugars. Also during this time I never went to the doctor. I would barely even test myself. My sugars and binging were out of control. I didn’t even want to know my A1C.
At 21 I had my first case of DKA. I went on Atkins (again) and I thought this meant I didn’t need insulin (stupid stupid!!) This lasted about a week then the DKA happened. Wow – lesson learned. So then I started a healthier low carb diet – I did the South Beach Diet. I even tested myself and gave myself insulin; this was going to be the new me complete with good blood sugars. I went to the hospital 2 more times with the exact same DKA symptoms. I remember not even making it through the emergency room door’s without vomiting everywhere. Oddly enough I didn’t have DKA – I don’t know what I had. All I can say is that I had every symptom.
After this I stopped doing anything low carb. I tied the zone diet, fit for life – and a bunch of others I can’t even remember. Weight Watchers was always my number one. Different diets, same result. Better blood sugars, weight loss then BINGE. I thought I was a “Volume Eater” (btw there’s no such thing, when you aren’t taking in enough nutrients your body simply wants more food!) I thought I had this HUGE appetite and called myself the carb queen because I always craved them. Boyfriends would tell me I had a big appetite because I would eat so much food when I was binging they couldn’t believe it. What they saw wasn’t even half of it – behind closed doors I was like 5 starved football players! Again I didn’t have a huge appetite I was just STARVING!
When I was 23 I started to became interested in natural and organic eating. I wish I could remember the book I read that changed my life but I can’t. All the sudden things made sense. I understood why ingesting small amounts of chemicals every day is killing us. I started shopping at health food stores and Trader Joe’s but this was just the start. I still had a long way to go. At this point I was testing – going to the doctor once every 2 years lol (better than never!) but I still smoked, drank and partied. I guess this was a little better than how I was in my very early 20’s. Of course I was still binging. I would eat so little for days; weeks on end that by the time I would cut loose, party and eat I just couldn’t stop. It was so bad – whatever you think I ate- I ate more. Candy, pastries, Starbucks, bagels, cereal, ice cream – sometimes I would wake up and start at 6am and wouldn’t stop until the next morning. I also started night eating – I would eat so little during the day I couldn’t stay asleep –I would wake up multiple times and eat cookies, peanut butter + candy. I woke up so many times with 300-400 blood sugars. To give you an idea I am 5’8” and I ate as little as 500 calories a day 800-1,000 being my average. I didn’t like overweight people because inside I was so angry at what I had to do to lose weight and stay thin. Every time I would start a new diet, a new week, a new day it was the hope that this time I would become a really skinny perfect diabetic and never have to binge again. Sometimes the binges would last weeks – I would gain 10+ lbs so I would have to lose that. I thought I lacked motivation and this is just the way I had to live my life. I always felt like I was in food jail. This led me to feel so depressed with visions of myself getting my feet cut off and regretting my whole life because I didn’t have self-control.
I want to point out that during this time diets that were 1,200 calories a day were the norm. When I would talk to the doctor they thought eating low calorie was fine. Now, a typical weight loss diet is around 1,600 calories. Plus, there are so many blogs and websites dedicated to anti dieting, reverse dieting, lifting heavy and eating. Because restrictive, low calorie diets do not work – fueling your body does work.
Another thing I will mention is the fact that I couldn’t throw up. I would get so sick & feel so guilty I would try everything to vomit. However, to this day I can’t throw up (Unless I had a fever over 101 or the times I had or thought I had DKA). I am thankful now it’s nearly impossible for me to throw up because I would have been bulimic. Unfortunately back then I wanted to throw up and hated that I couldn’t. This is how bad my disorder was. I thought having bulimia was the answer to my problems.
I am going to fast forward a bit because everything was the same for years. Healthy, natural, organic and severely low cal until I would binge. In the later part of my 20’s I was at my worst. I started leaning towards anorexia. I ate the same thing every day for over 2 years: no breakfast, a veggie burger on one piece of Ezekiel bread for lunch with a cup of soup and half of a low fat, low calorie grain muffin, usually a lean cuisine for dinner and a pear or a Sugar Free fudge-sickle for dessert. 1,000 calories a day. I had “scheduled” binges once every 2 weeks. Most nights I would wake up 10+ times out of hunger. When I was sleeping I would constantly get sleep paralyzation because I was only half asleep. Many days I would wake up and force myself to run on the treadmill. Then there were the low blood sugars. I would go for hours with a blood sugar at 50 until I was “allowed” to eat. If I woke up low, I stayed low until lunch which was at 1pm. Most people couldn’t imagine this yet I lived it day in and day out. My A1C was 5 during this time because of this. I was very happy about that and it made everything feel worth it. I was beyond tired every day. I had adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is the worst feeling. This went on for 2 years. I thought I finally got it right. I figured like most thin people I didn’t eat a lot. That’s what thin people do. Plus, my binging was under control and I had a great A1C. I was the skinniest I was since I was 15. I was a size 6 and looked amazing. You would think I was going to say I was a size 0 but no; all this only got me to a 6. Everyone thought I was the picture of health. I ate almost all organic (besides my lean cuisines) I barely ate meat or protein at all for that matter. Inside I felt horrible -I felt lethargic, that’s the best word to describe it. I was tired and sluggish. I always felt like I was in slow motion. I could barely be creative and I am a designer. I would feel like I was going to fall asleep at my desk. I didn’t realize yet that this was the adrenal fatigue. As I was going through it I felt it couldn’t be my diet or the way I treated my body – I figured there was something wrong with me – maybe cancer, maybe lack of vitamins. I used to google different things. I gave up dairy for a while because I was convinced it was that. I used to cry to my mom, I remember she said Eva just try eating breakfast – I told her if I did that I would eat all day and be hungrier.
When I think about what I had to go through to be a size 6, 135 lbs diabetic with a 5 A1C – it reminds me of why I’m not any of that now lol. That also answers (in case you were wondering) why people had no idea I had an eating disorder. I never looked like it! Everyone thought I was just crazy when it came to food. I was the girl that only had a salad at dinner and complained about how quickly I would gain weight.
In November 2011 I met my now husband Brian. On our first date I would not eat – I remember I was starving but I had 2 beers so that counted as my meal. He ordered a quesadilla. I had a tiny bite + felt guilty. We wound up settling into boyfriend and girlfriend mode pretty quickly and that’s where everything changed. I was having so much fun with him and that fun included dates… which included eating – and eat I did! I started binging and overeating more often – I couldn’t keep up with single Eva starving herself anymore. I gained 7 lbs very quickly, my A1C went up to 5.8 and I thought I was horrendous! So I dieted to get back to where I was – only this time I could not lose it. I kept dieting for another year only to gain another 7 lbs. Needless to say – I hated myself.
Then one day in August 2012 something snapped and things finally changed.
First, when I say snapped I mean SNAPPED. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I literally could not force myself to go on another diet. I don’t know why I chose this time to snap but it just happened. I wanted to be healthy – I was in love and knew Brian was my soulmate. I wanted to be around forever and couldn’t live this lie where I looked healthy and happy from the inside but was overtaken with demons on the inside. I remember telling my friend that I didn’t care if I was “fat” forever – I just could not diet. (btw “fat” at that time was a size 8). For so many years I was disgusted with myself. I didn’t tell people I was diabetic – not even very close friends knew. This is not because I was embarrassed of being T1D – it was because I was embarrassed of how I acted as a T1D. Smoking, drinking and when I wasn’t starving I was eating all the carbs and sugar I could. I just didn’t want to be judged – so it was easier to hide.
This started me on my journey to recovery. First, I tried intuitive eating. I read the book and I truly understood it. I started “intuitive eating” and did great – I would eat every 3 hours including breakfast! There was a couple times before I tried to eat breakfast. I swore it made me hungrier. I started to realize that was only because to me breakfast was a packet of oatmeal then nothing until lunch. What a tease for my poor body! Of course it wanted more food. It was very important for me to realize that giving my body more nutrients in the long run made me LESS hungry. I felt good and guess what? I lost weight. For the first time without trying! My blood sugars weren’t stable because I wasn’t tracking anything yet but I was happy with where I was at. For the first time I went 3 months without binging.
Unfortunately, a few months later Hurricane sandy hit and I ate – a lot – I lost control over my food with no heat or electric for over 2 weeks – doesn’t sound like that long but it felt like eternity. We would cook pancakes on the BBQ and ate at the local diner that had power. We ate and drank a lot every day – I was out of work for over a month and I gained weight. So I went on one little harmless diet which led to a few more.
I didn’t lose any weight. I then started researching why that was happening. I read so many articles about how eating very low calorie diets do not work. I realized that calorie counting for me was better than intuitive eating because I was still eating too little when I intuitive ate. That is why eventually I went back to my old ways so easily. So I started a new “healthy” diet of 1600 calories. That seemed like SO MUCH at the time. I also started seeing a food therapist that I paid a lot of money for. I got frustrated and would hysterically cry in her office that I was so hungry still and couldn’t lose weight – I thought I was doing everything right now! She saw my food diary and told me 1600 calories was good for my body and eventually I wouldn’t be hungry! I figured she must be right because I was eating more than ever.
After a few months I gave up on her & outside help. I did even more research + started to read a lot of blogs. I read blogs that showed regular (not diabetic) women that were fit, thin, healthy and ate around two thousand cals a day. None of them calorie count but I noticed their bios all guesstimated around that amount. I could also tell by eyeing their food. I loved to read WIAW (what I ate Wednesday) posts to see what and how much they ate. I had to figure out how they were eating 2k calories a day and I was eating 1600 at 5’8” and didn’t look like them. The answer came from KiKi and Lucia.
It was the summer of 2013 and I found EM2WL. Kiki and Lucia are angels in my diet story. Suddenly everything made sense to me – why I ate so little and could barely lose weight. Why I needed to start resistance training – and finally why I needed to do a metabolism reset. A metabolism reset would bring my cals to 2300 a day – I figured I had nothing to lose. I added in 50 calories every 4 weeks. I started in July at 1800 calories and by Christmas I was eating those 2300 cals a day plus working out with heavy weights every day. I am not going to lie it was not easy doing this while being diabetic. But I knew I had to get my eating right before I got my sugars right. Every time I added in those 50cals I was so scarred – it was like slowly walking into a cold pool. I did it so carefully. When I wouldn’t gain weight and I felt more energetic – I would get used to it and swim around!
At 2,300 calories I felt great. I didn’t lose weight and I didn’t gain weight. I had NO URGES. In fact most days I didn’t even want more food. I found myself at Panera bread (I love Panera bread) trying higher calorie items. I started to eat Peanut Butter (my fav), cream cheese and all whole foods (low fat or fat free doesn’t even exist to me now). I got stronger and more confident.
Unfortunately I did fall off the wagon last year. In my quest to get my diabetes and blood sugars right I read Dr. Bernstein’s book which led me to obsess over carbs. Read my carbohydrate story here. I have an obsessive nature so I went obsessively low carb. Besides this I am happy I read his book because after I went very low carb (under 20 grams a day) I felt like crap – so I went low-mid carb and started carb counting which was the best thing I ever did. His book really helped me understand a lot of things better. It also made me feel good about not wearing an insulin pump – which is something I never wanted. Low-mid carb has helped me a lot with my blood sugars. After my low carb set-back I did binge on carbs. Then I started dieting again because I was getting married. I only cared about being a thin bride and was never truly happy at the weight maintained for over a year. I lost site. It’s crazy that even though I felt amazing and energized before this set back, I just wanted to lose weight and didn’t care that it made me tired, hungry and feeling horrible. You can read more about this here.
Please understand that my setbacks were part of my journey to recovery. I needed to go through my hurricane sandy setback to realize that I had to calorie count and eat more. I needed my carbohydrate setback to show me that carbohydrates are such an imprint key in my blood sugar control. Also, so I could learn how many carbs are good for my body. Finally, I needed my last set back – the “wedding” setback to finally force me to be happy where I am. Even when I felt great I wasn’t truly comfortable and my sugars weren’t under tight control. Now after beating my body up one last time it forced me to take everything I have learned and blend it together to make the perfect smoothie lol (I couldn’t resist that joke).
So, after the wedding I chose to move forward. I accept the weight I am now. I started my own personal campaign. 1 Year Diet free (I even get came up with a prize I will get if I don’t diet). I have never gone a full year without dieting since I was 15. I started in August. I am eating my TDEE (2300cals) and focusing on my diabetes. I don’t have anything to hide anymore. I turned my obsessive nature into a positive by weighing and measuring my food, tracking my blood sugars and meal planning. I now know what it takes to feel good and not binge – for me its calories in – calories out and eating at my TDEE which I learned from KiKi and Lucia. I also know to pay close attention to carbs thanks to Dr. Bernstein. I know to listen to my body. I eat the carbs I need to maintain control over my sugars and to feel energetic. Binging isn’t even a thought in my head because food is no longer my drug. I eat what I want and have better blood sugars than ever and an A1C around 6. I wish a doctor would have helped me learn this but I had to be my own doctor. I now have my own healthy eating blog about nutrition and diabetes – along with my own WIAW posts to help others. Blogs were my greatest help and reading stories of women who went thought the same thing as me was very healing. This is why I share all of my stories. If you have questions, or need advice please feel free to contact me.