eating disorders

Doritos for Girls!



I wanted to write some funny bit about the lady Doritos, cause let’s be honest there is so much comedy there, I mean come on.


The least of which is that non-crunchy doritos are just corn tortillas, and I will eat those bad girls wrapped around taco junk like WHOA. And I will eat them in fluffy slippers while weeping over the Notebook, hidden in my pink bedroom with my canopy bed and and write in my journal. I’m also making a fake Facebook account so I can stalk that one  high school boyfriend. OH! I super hope they make pink lady Doritos (Doritas? Dorititas?) for Breast Cancer Awareness month! The only thing better than delicate girly corn chips is pink girly corn chips!

If you make ANYTHING pink we will buy it. Right ladies? We are like pink hammer? Gimme! Pink TV’s? I am a grown up so YES! Oh! Can it have a bow? Maybe kitty ears. We love animal ears on everything! Or Pom Poms!

But as an eating disordered woman, one who is healthy now, this just hits me right where it counts. I remember distinctly seeing Scarlett O’Hara being told to eat before she goes to the barbecue at Twelve Oaks. Because the men can’t see you eat. (now, this is probably the LEAST horrible thing in that flick but stick with me) Order a salad, don’t finish your meals on dates, we are taught. By the 4th grade most girls on are on a diet or believing they need to diet. Skipping lunch becomes the norm as the only thing worse than being weak enough to need food is the shame of letting people see how weak you are. Your shame is compounded if you make noise.  A Diet Coke and a cheese stick for strength is all any girl needs.

We teach our girls to be small and quiet, complacent and pliable. To watch our tone and to not be too loud, too angry or in general too much. Now you want to tell me that eating Doritos is an affront to femininity?  Their marketing idea is making chips easier to hide and quieter to eat? Hard pass on that. Junk food already has shameful connotations, sneaking a chip, we shouldn’t be eating this, etc. etc. etc.

It may seem like a cute gimmick, well a stupid gimmick but it reinforces a very strong force on us and our girls. And it sucks.

So you’ll forgive me if the idea of non-crunchy secretive doritos made to fit in your purse doesn’t fill me with glee. Did they not fit in purses before? Are mini bags a secret only mom type women are privy too? I have three kids, at any given time I have a bag of chips…somewhere. Ladies without children, lean in, let me tell you a secret…Doritos come in little bags. You can get them at the store or even in vending machines. I know right, this is BRAND NEW INFORMATION.


We don’t need feminine chips. We do need feminine products for lower income girls. We need workplaces free of sexual harassment. We need female leaders who will speak for us. We need male leaders to view us as humans.

The idea that we eat Doritos too loudly and we should be ashamed of that?

We don’t need that.



Whole 30 when you have been eating disordered.


10835168_10152659607565876_5416511026038435177_oThis summer my entire family decided to do Whole30 and I was definitely on board. Once I had Piper and was able to eat again I basically went crazy.  I was feeling sluggish and crappy and honestly?  I have a sugar problem. As in I was eating a big bag of Hershey Kisses a day. No exaggeration. So, primarily I wanted to do it to get that out  of my system. I knew I wasn’t eating well and I know food really DOES impact how we feel, think and behave.

I was in bad habits and wanted to change them, but as an eating disordered person I know this can be a tricky business. In fact one thing that snuck up on me was when I had HG and my neonatologist had be sipping protein shakes trying to keep them down I ended up switching shakes. The ones he had prescribed were the same ones I was on when I had to relearn how to have food. Without even realizing it I started thinking how great it was! I was thinking when the baby was born I would just keep eating ice chips and drinking the shakes. As soon as I recognized that thought pattern, I changed shakes and flavors and that helped a lot.

My point is that as far out as I am from eating disordered behaviors, the thoughts sometimes pop up.  And as I want to stay alive I do need to consume my addictive substance-food. I cannot quit it like a drug addict. I need to have my addictive substance while not having addictive behaviors. And for many eating disordered people, restrictive diets are an addictive behavior.

For me restrictive diets are both a good thing- they give me freedom from worry. I know what I am allowed and not allowed and like any structure I find comfort within them.  However, they are also a bad thing. Because I’m a bit like Crocodile Dundee and his “That’s not a knife” quote. That’s not a restrictive diet. THIS is a restrictive diet! And the next thing I know I am only eating 5 thin slices of apple and 7 almonds. That only can last so long before I will binge and purge.

So, I knew going into this I needed to be careful. Luckily for me I had already done a restrictive elimination diet before under a doctor’s care and knew a few things, like corn tortillas etc were fine for me. I went in to it with a resolve to focus on health and energy and not worry about weight. (Which was good because at the end of the  30 days I weighed the exact same) I made a few of my own rules, I had splenda in my coffee and non-dairy creamer. I already knew dairy was really hard on my system.  So was definitely cutting that out.

I realized several things during this month. One: my stomach was a lot smaller than I thought. Once I got over that omg I want all the junk food craving I was satisfied with decent sized portions and able to stop when I was full a lot easier. Two: by the second week the cravings were gone and I wasn’t feeling like I was being deprived. Three: I have a sweet craving in the afternoon and it was easily taken care of with almonds, coconut, and dried cranberries (get the ones from the salad toppings section, not craisins) Four: I felt GREAT! I had so much more energy, I was sleeping better, my skin was looking good. All around it was  a total win! Five: while I didn’t lose weight, it was like I depuffed. It was the weirdest thing!

Then we went to the beach and we ate our own weight in ice cream. And I puffed right back up!

My general plan is a 90/10 split. I want to eat whole 30 compliant most f the time but have the freedom to have a hot fudge sundae without feeling badly. I want to be vigilant, not only for me but for my daughter. I want to focus on being strong and healthy and NOT on weight loss or being thin. I will verbalize why i choose salads with protein over pastas….I simply FEEL better. But I will make sure she sees me indulge, she will see me enjoy ice cream and birthday cakes. Mostly I want her to see me honor my needs and actual hunger. I will grab a snack if I am hungry. I won’t say the word diet to her or to myself.

I almost died from an eating disorder and I will do my best to guard my girl from that experience.

It starts with being healthy. That’s my vow.

(You can read about my struggle with eating disorders here)

The Day I Forgot To Be Self Conscious.

IMG_2478Last year I spent June at the beach with my family, eight months pregnant, contracting regularly and unable to keep anything down except ice chips and protein shakes. The beach is both the greatest place and the worst place to be in this situation. I watched my two boys dig sandcastles, jump waves, float in the pool, run along the sand and I waved them goodbye as they headed off to a giant water slide park knowing that I couldn’t even walk from the car to the park much less go down a slide in my condition. I layed on the couch and thought “next summer I am going to do all those things”.

If I am being honest though, before I was the pregnant, contracting, sick mom who doesn’t get in the water, I was just the mom who doesn’t get in the water. Before that I was the wife who doesn’t get in the water. And before that I was the girlfriend who doesn’t get in the water. I can’t remember the last time I was the girl who gets in the water and has fun but it was surely 7th or 8th grade at least. That’s not to say I hadn’t ever been in the water since then, but I wasn’t enjoying it. It was too cold, I was too insecure in a swimsuit. Too insecure to be seen without make up.  Just too…self conscious.

I would say to my sons “That’s what Daddy is for!” and they would slink over to him and he would take them in the pool.

When the pools opened a few weeks ago I almost forgot about my pledge.  My oldest is so close to swimming and he was working hard on it. The water was frigid but none of the kids cared. My girlfriends got in the water with the kids and I stayed on the pool deck observing. I walked over to where he was and just did it. I canonballed practically right on top of him. Once he recovered from the shock of it his eyes lit up with joy and disbelief “mommy, you’re in the water!” 

This week at the beach he asked me to jump waves with him and I automatically said no. His shoulders dropped and he headed out on his own. What was I doing? I quickly snuck up behind him and swung his feet out into the water. “I knew you’d come!” he said smiling over his shoulder at me. Later I took his little brother in the waves and we screamed when we got splashed and laughed as the waves pulled the sand back from under our toes as they receded into the ocean.

Today, we left the baby with her grandparents and they waved us goodbye as we headed out to the big waterslide park. I told myself I was going to say yes to everything. Slides, wave pools, whatever. I was going to do it all. And I did. Max wanted to conquer the Toucan Twist water slide, a medium sized one,  perfect for an almost 7 year old.  I told him I would go first and catch him.  We did this over and over before we headed over to the pirate ship and the kids played while my husband and our friends lounged on chairs watching them and chatting.

It wasn’t long before Max wanted to do that slide again and I said yes, he ran alongside me saying this time he would catch me. His confidence having been built from repeated successful trips.  I smiled and laughing played my part “Will you? Meet me at the bottom!” Suddenly I realized the whole day had gone by and what was this I was having? Is this, fun? Real, genuine fun?! Yes. That’s what I was having. I hadn’t thought about how I looked in my swimsuit all day. I wasn’t spending energy trying to hide that lovely varicose vein, I hadn’t even sucked in my stomach all day!

No sooner than I thought it I became overwhelmingly away of my thighs wobbling as I climbed the wooden steps, and I heard my doctors voice in my head saying “You’re skinny fat, do you know what that is? You’re not big, but you have a high level of fat. There’s not a lot of muscle. It’s not healthy.” Though I conquered my eating disorder ages ago that comment hurt, all I heard was “You are fat.” Now every step I took I felt heavier, the curve of my belly, rounded from three babies grew outward with every moment. I felt big, I felt out of place, I felt like I couldn’t have any fun.

Just then my son grabbed my hand and with a big smile said “I love love you!” He was so happy we were doing this together. With a quick wave from the lifeguard he headed down the fast moving slide with a quick smile back.”Ill catch you mommy!” he wailed, his voice washing away with the water as he slipped down the water tube.  I decided to take Taylor Swift’s advice and shake it off. I perched at the top of the Toucan Twist and when I got the nod, I layed back, crossed my arms and my ankles just like instructed and swooshed my way around and around until I splashed into the pool where my son caught me.

I’ve never felt more beautiful.




Recovery, the road is long…


The thing about the eating disordered is we are crafty, tricky and resourceful. We can be charming and say the right things- gaining just the right amount of weight for us to be believed and released. Time and again. Catch and release. Catch and release.

My high over my measurements faded fast as I was in a therapy group with the only other ED patient, an eating disorder rock star- an anorexic. She could fly away I thought. EZT wasn’t helping her, her hair shorn short, she  folded in every chair and I stared with envy. She was pure, strong. I was not. I was weak. I was a slave to bulimia. She transcended while I was pulled under. I sat engrossed as she hid her hands in long sweatshirt sleeves and cried numb tears in group. I’ve often wondered whether she recovered or like so many of us, she floated away. She was there before me and I left her there, when I charmed my way out.

My boyfriend came to fetch me and we jokingly acted like we had busted me out, an escape and when we burst into my apartment my roommates laughed and laughed. I was welcomed back to school with open arms. No better, but everyone was placated.

It was another year and a half before I really got help. My mother had found a doctor  near where she lived and he was making great strides in curing eating disorders. There was another emergency room trip, another ‘heart incident’ and then finally my boyfriend packed me up again and we drove from Pasadena to Colorado where I was delivered into the arms of Dr. W who after a complete physical and interview declared that in 2 years I would either be recovered or I would be dead. Those were the only options and it was entirely up to me.

I am not sure where after over 10 years of constantly trying to destroy myself this sense of self preservation roared awake but it did. So we began the long and terrifying journey back to health. I resisted drugs for a long time, Dr W. was not the first to suggest them- but I had always resisted.  I didn’t want my personality to change (lovely though it was, I am sure) he patiently explained exactly what they did and why and with that I acquiesced and agreed to it. Prozac in extremely high doses can cause not just appetite loss but the utter destruction of the interest in eating at all and so it was prescribed to me, and many other bulimics to curb the binge urge. I will state right here that I would never have been able to conquer this without the assistance of drug therapy. Once we had that under control the next thing was to teach my body to process foods again. This was a slow start. I drank ensure. The moment a drop of it hit my stomach lining I felt myself grow larger, fatter, worse. Sometimes it would come right back up, my body unable to keep anything down now. But eventually I learned to count and breathe until the panic subsided and the nutrients were absorbed. I was not allowed a scale, I was not allowed form fitting clothes but I knew I was gaining. At the same time once my brain had some nourishment I felt…better? Stronger? Hopeful?

Every day was a struggle. Those first few months and everything was a victory. My body had not processed food from the begginning to the end in years. It had to relearn what we are born knowing. Food digestion, absorption and elimination were all victories.

And yet it was bittersweet. My eating disorder had been my constant companion for years, a sort of invisible parrot sitting on my shoulder guiding me through everything. How could I live without it? I missed it. Terribly.

Eventually I ate actual food. Eventually I stopped panicking the moment it slid down my now not bloody throat. Eventually I stopped even thinking about it. Eventually after a long time I was declared ‘cured’.

I relapsed. Of course, we almost always do. Instead of shaming me my doctor said the most empowering thing and now I share it with you. He said before you couldn’t go 30 minutes without it. Now you’ve gone two months, three months, a year. You know you can do it. So you did it once, that doesn’t mean you do it again. Next time it will be two years before you maybe relapse. Maybe three, four or never. Think of your victories, you’ve won the war…this was a tiny skirmish. 

He was right. I’ve been cured for many years now and I haven’t relapsed. I can look at myself in the mirror and know I don’t see myself accurately. I can accept that and move on. I have had two healthy pregnancies with severe morning sickness and and am in the middle of my third vomiting almost non-stop for the first four months…and yet I don’t relapse. I am able to accept my body growing and changing and yes, getting bigger and yet not go back.

I will never go back.

I may still have some disordered thinking, don’t we all, but I am stronger than those thoughts.

If you or someone you love is struggling please contact NEDA  to find a good doctor or therapy program. This is the toughest war you’ll ever fight, but I promise you it’s worth it.


Read the rest in this series; part one  part two and part three.

And Thinner


Even now, cured, I still pick photos that make me look thin. It's the angle of the camera, but my legs look thin. Eating Disorders always leave residuals that stay with us always.

Even now cured, I still pick photos that make me look thin. It’s the angle of the camera, but my legs look thin. Eating Disorders leave residuals that stay with us always.

The pressure behind my eyes was so intense I truly thought they might explode. My stomach flexed and emptied the last of it’s contents. I was fourteen. It was the first time I had made myself vomit.

I switched from a private school to public at the beginning of fifth grade and quickly felt the disapproving stares of the more worldly girls. My lunchroom plate of the given portions was suddenly a glutton’s feast and I more often than not tossed all of it in the trash. I existed on grapes and diet soda. I’d eat at home where no one could see, I thought.

Junior High was worse. A minefield of girl cruelty. Curled up in the library I devoured a book about a young girl, a ballet dancer like I was, who had anorexia. I wanted to be her and I was failing miserably. At 14 my ballet career was at best pathetic. I took the bus faithfully to Boulder Ballet Ensemble three times a week and danced to the tinny piano sounds that Tom’s Tavern below drove out with loud CCR on the jukebox. I had a crooked spine and very little drive and determination. I spent my time in class daydreaming about the stage rather than really working to make it happen.

That same lack of drive and determination made me a failure at anorexia as well. Sooner rather than later I would fail, overwhelmed by the desire to eat and I would inhale a pizza. “look at her go!” parents would say and my face would flush with shame. So it was in that same book with the beautiful anorexic dancer I desperately wanted to be there happened to be a bulimic girl. An electric shock flooded my body. I could get rid of it! All of it!

The feeling of fat and shame was quickly replaced with a high of ridding myself of all that punishment. But like all highs the time between needing to experience them gets closer and closer and closer until you lose quality of life and  in many cases- nearly my case,  life.

At 17 I lounged in a borrowed room, my mother having moved to San Francisco for a job,  watching Oprah and splurging on Yoplait lemon yogurt and 5 saltines. I wouldn’t keep them, but it was still a splurge. I distantly heard a girl on the set tell Oprah she had been busted because of the tell tale bruises on her hand. Those of her two front teeth being repeatedly pushed into them as she forced the food up and out. I looked down. There they were, two bruises. I’d never thought about them, but there they were two purple tooth marks with aging bruises circling them never given a proper chance to heal. I heard her say that was when I started using the handle of my toothbrush. Oprah’s voice distantly echoed now I don’t want anyone thinking that’s a good idea!

I was already in the bathroom. That was when I learned there were tricks to bulimia, tricks of the trade.

Later my rituals were so streamlined I needed nothing. I could simply lean over and let go. I may have failed at anorexia,(Still I prayed every night God would gift me with it and take away bulimia) but I was a damn good bulimic.

More tomorrow.

Read the rest in this series; part one  part three and the conclusion.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder please contact you’re not alone. Know that you can beat this and you can and will have a life.




photo by Kevin McIntyre

photo by Kevin McIntyre

I don’t usually participate in the National Whatever Weeks…mostly because as a really troubled kid I sort of collected these things. You have one,  you have a few. National Daddy Issues Week. National Sexual Assault Awareness Week. National Too Pale To Go To The Beach week.  But I’m pregnant with a daughter. A  girl and honestly I am a little terrified about doing right by her. This has made me think, really think about how I turned everything inward, how everything became about fat and shame and how I almost died from the disease. Nothing else killed me. Not cutting, not putting myself in dangerous situations, none of it. The only thing that almost did me in is the mental illness with the highest mortality rate. Eating Disorders.  It’s Eating Disorder Awareness and week and I feel like we’re all pretty damn aware. But what I ponder is how to prevent…it wasn’t just pretty skinny models that I knew I could never be. It wasn’t just my mother’s incessant dieting, always striving to lose those last ten pounds and be happy. It wasn’t just one thing…and it certainly wasn’t one obvious thing. How did I make the connection between being thin and being worthy? How did every bump or bubble of flesh become bad, become shame?

I was a skinny kid. I was a skinny preteen. It was only in the throngs of the bulimic cycles that I was ever ‘fat’ which was really more puffy and swollen. I vow to never say I am ‘fat’ around my children, even if I am. I vow to never put myself down or complain about my looks although I certainly still feel as I have many complaints. But even that, even that isn’t enough. How do we guard our girls and boys from trying to disappear? I remember being in college and seeing Tennessee Williams one act Talk To Me Like The Rain And Let Me Listen. It was a profound experience for me.

I’ll run my hands down my body and feel how amazingly light and thin I have grown. Oh, my, how thin I will be. Almost transparent. Not hardly real any more. Then I will realize, I will know, sort of dimly, that I have been staying on here in this little hotel, without any — social connections, responsibilities, anxieties or disturbances of any kind — for just about fifty years. Half a century. Practically a lifetime. I won’t even remember the names of the people I knew before I came here nor how it feels to be someone waiting for someone that — may not come … Then I will know — looking in the mirror — the first time has come for me to walk out alone once more on the esplanade with the strong wind beating on me, the white clean wind that blows from the edge of the world, from even further than that, from the cool outer edges of space, from even beyond whatever there is beyond the edges of space …Then I’ll go out and walk on the esplanade. I’ll walk alone and be blown thinner and thinner.And thinner and thinner and thinner and thinner and thinner!— Till finally I won’t have any body at all, and the wind picks me up in its cool white arms forever, and takes me away!

Yes. Exactly. And even now, even ‘cured’ from my ED for ten plus years I still read that and think yes, exactly. I still want to be thinner and thinner and thinner until I am paper thin and will just blow away.

I don’t. I know it’s unhealthy. I do not participate in eating disordered behaviors. I do not starve myself or vomit. I do not. I don’t even feel the desire to do so…but to be so thin. So free. So pure. That I still want.

It’s National Eating Disorders Week and I am aware. I’m just unsure what to do with that awareness.

Read the rest in this series: part two part three and the conclusion.

THIS is the book that was the closest to my ED experience. It’s an incredible raw look at life with and eating disorder. If you suffered or you know someone who is and you want to understand, a little, what it’s like this is a great and difficult read.

It’s better to be plain.

photo credit Road Theatre

photo credit Road Theatre

Let’s call him Brandon.

He was young and handsome, with a devilish glint in his eye. He was charming and charismatic, like most of the men in my class at acting school. We sat in his car outside my Pasadena apartment talking late into the night, in the way that only 20 somethings can, still enjoying the new found freedom of apartment living and bar hopping. Leaning our heads back on the headrests and alternately staring into one another’s eyes, both of us summing up whether or not we were either tipsy enough or attracted to each other enough to kiss. I was fresh off a heartbreak that really wasn’t a heartbreak. You know, when you’re more upset and sad about the way it went down that the actual loss of the person. My pride was hurt, but my actual heart wasn’t. It was a very confusing time to be me. Mix in some heavy duty insecurity and a hard core eating disorder and I was ripe for the picking.

Somehow we ended up on the subject of my ex and how it all happened. There was another girl, you see, as there frequently are. She was gorgeous. She was talented. She was mean as a snake. Worse than all of that put together, she was better at being eating disordered than I was.

It was only when I was hospitalized the first time for my eating disorder, at 24 and after my second heart “incident” ,that I realized there is competition among us, the eating disordered.  I sat in group therapy at a treatment facility without an ED specialized unit and listened to people of all  walks of life tell horrific stories, the details of which are still fresh in my mind all these years later. There was only one other girl besides myself who was eating disordered. Her hair was cropped short, for the electric shock therapy she received twice weekly, and she folded perfectly in half on her metal folding chair in the cold therapy room. Her knees up by her face and her feet on the seat. her hands pulled inside her sweatshirt sleeves as she spoke. But all I could see was the space. There were probably 4 or 5 inches from the tips of her toes to the end of the seat. So much space. She was so thin. I was so jealous. Even know typing this I feel myself flush, my heart speed up a visceral reaction to the remembrance.

Later that night in my room, alone. I tried it. No metal chairs of course.Our rooms were an attempt to provide a home-like atmosphere while ensuring there were no sharp edges where we could injure ourselves, either on purpose if we were suicidal or accidentally from passing out.  I had bulimia. Girl had anorexia. A much more desirable eating disorder. In the hierarchy of eating disorders it’s the tops. Every night since I was 17 I had prayed that God would take my bulimia and leave anorexia in it’s place.  An unanswered prayer as it were. So it was that I tried to approximate the size of the folding chair and measure myself against her. I was barely 90 pounds at that time, a skeleton, but my feet left no space at the end of the chair. I didn’t measure up.

“Just once I want to be one of the beautiful people.” I said tipsily to Brandon. The girl whom my ex had become fascinated with, as everyone was, definitely qualified as “beautiful people.”

“No, you don’t Stephanie.” He said staring into my eyes and moving the tiniest bit closer. “It’s better to be plain. Like you.”

Then he tried to kiss me. I laughed, though I wanted to burst into tears from being told out right that I would indeed, never measure up, never be beautiful, never be the thinnest, the most talented, the desired one. But somehow, I laughed. Then, finding some self esteem somewhere I opened the car door and got out.