I had a very eye-opening conversation with a good friend, we’ll call her Renee, Monday night.  She gave me permission to blog about our conversation, because it was a deeply personal conversation.  This is a long entry, but you want to read to the end.  I promise.

It started with me doing a Facebook status update about my dinner.  I made Chicken Curry for the first time, and she started asking me about it.  Then it went to how she doesn’t have a lot of skills in the kitchen.  I shared some recipes with her in a Google shared folder.  Next thing I know, we’re talking about how food picky we are, and I was surprised that she doesn’t like cake or pancakes.  Then Renee said to me, “In all honesty, I’ve struggled with an eating disorder since I was 11. :( Not cool, but have been doing better the last 2 years.”

Whoah.  I had no idea.  After she said and I had some time to reflect, I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised.  She’s thin.  But I never make assumptions.  I had a friend in high school who hated how thin she was.  She ate and ate and tried to gain weight but couldn’t.  I never pass judgement on “too thin” people anymore.  There are medical conditions that can cause that.

So back to Renee.  She’s proud of the last 2 years of doing better, but she admits she will likely never be healed.  I asked her, if it wasn’t too personal, which ED did she have?  And she said, “for a long time anorexia. then for a bit I dabbled in bulemia. Anorexia is much easier for me to control though.”

Over the last two years, Renee has tried to become more open about talking about her ED.  She says it helps her to be more held more accountable.

Me:  Do you think that has contributed to your being hypoglycemic?
Renee:  It definitely plays a huge roll in my hypoglycemia. If I keep my eating under control though I don’t usually have problems. I have to be very aware of my body and how it feels.
Me:  Let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help.
Renee:  Thanks. Just accountability. Listen for excuses and such if for long periods of time I chose not to eat.
Me:  Define “long period”.
Renee:  A ”long period” would probably be 8-10 hours for me (though we are not usually together for that long) but 3-4 hours is also long since my body will start to feel bad. I try to have a snack every few hours. Anytime I go longer than a day with food deprivation is not a good sign.
Me:  I will try and encourage you to pay attention when we hang out. But I will try not to be pushy or bossy.
Renee:   Thanks Angela. I do appreciate it.  Can I just tell you how much I appreciate being able to tell you that? Well I do!
Me:  I’m glad! I feel honored that you trust me enough.
Renee:  It’s part of the process. Trusting myself to trust others. Self esteem thing ya know…  learning and growing. Gotta do it. The recipies help too. gives me a variety to try from to help me be more comfortable with food.
Me:  I’m happy to help! I didn’t even know it was that much help .
Renee:  It is. :D And I love it! It’s been something I’ve always been ashamed to think about or tell people about, that I eat, that is.  So I try to make status updates about food, and have conversations with people about it.  It helps me realize and process that food is OK.  It’s natural, and good for me to eat it.

Is that really any different than how we feel, us who are overweight and trying to lose weight?  This was a very eye-opening comment from Renee that made me think hard about our differences and similarities in our struggles.  Obviously, anorexia is far more severe than say, the emotional eating that I deal with.  My point is, we’re both embarrassed about food and sometimes look at food as the enemy.  Back to the conversation.

Renee:  Sorry if this is kinda an intense topic.
Me:  Not at all hon.
Renee:  Just wanna mak sure my talk isn’t too much.  I try to maintain my weight. Right now, I’m pretty under weight so I try to NOT think about what goes into me too much. I eat McD’s when I want it (which isn’t often) and don’t think about what I’m ordering or the bad things I am taking in.  But I do stick by trying to et as healthy as possible so I can feel good each day.  I need to be hitting the gym to build muscle right now I think. I hate not having the motivation to do it though.  I think some added weight scares me, but I know gaining muscle would be healthy.
Me:  It’s hard to be motivated. I know that as well as anyone.  And yeah..the same thing for me! I don’t want added weight, but I want to be strong!  Do you have an idea of what your ideal weight is? Not what YOU think, but medically what is ideal?
Renee:  Medically I should be at 140. As of this morning I was 127.
Me:  That would be some amazing muscle to get you to 140. You’d be so hot!! Not that you aren’t now, of course, but nice toned muscles are sexy.
Renee:  LOL for sure. I’d love to have some firece arms and abs. Legs are alright.
Me:  Don’t take this wrong. Please. I love having this open conversation with you, but it feels so backwards!! LOL I’m trying to lose weight and trying to encourage you about gaining healthy weight.
Renee:   Is it hard for you?
Me:  I’m so happy to help you in any way at all.  We have the same goals heading in different directions.  Being healthy, eating healthy, and having a healthy relationship with food. I’m an emotional eater. I have to remember that food does not make me feel better.
Renee:  Right. I have many friends who are in the same boat as you. My husband included. Some have made the coice to not be in a position to help me, and I get that completely. Its something very hard for me and others to deal with.
Me:  I got your back sister.
Renee:  Well thank you. And I have yours as well. I hope you know that. I try very hard to forget about my food relationship and encourage others in their goals.
Me:  I think you and I can really help each other.
Renee:  I’d definitely have to agree with you on that.
Me:  Do you mind if I blog about you, but of course I won’t use your name at all. This is a good conversation for me to share with my other weight loss friends.
Renee:  Oh sure. That’s fine.
Me:  Thank you. I think it will be good for others to consider another perspective. I think sometimes us overweight girls take for granted that we are the only ones struggling with food and our weight sometimes, you know what I mean?
Renee:  You’re right. People with eating disorders can be very hard to understand whether it’s over eating or starvation. Not everyone can grasp it, so it’s good to hear about it since they are so “secretive”.  I’m so glad we can have this conversation.

Me too.  I learned a lot from this short conversation, and think Renee and I have a lot more to learn from each other.  After this part of the conversation she expressed how much better she was feeling, and our talk gave her some motivation to head to the gym and work on putting on those muscles.  I gave her some advice that was given to me to take in some lean protein shortly after a lifting session to help rebuild the muscle tissue more quickly.  She thanked me for the tip and said, “keep sharing with me. I love the help!”

I will, my friend.  I will.  I am looking forward to have more open conversations with Renee, and have a feeling that we have found a big reason why we were brought together as friends.  It saddens me that she has “friends” who won’t talk to her about her anorexia, who won’t listen.  I am not envious of her being thin, I am not envious that she can avoid food.

You never know who needs you out there.  You never know what the “skinny” person at the gym is going through.  I encourage you not to pass judgement, but reach out.  Be a friend.  Listen.  Learn.

One Comment

  1. AMAZING post! Thank you and your friend for sharing this story. Knowing that I am not alone in my struggles with food is oddly helpful. and knowing the opposite side of this story (or what seems to be backwards to me) is very informative and helpful in a way I never imagined possible.