My Dearest Daughter, Mommy Has an Eating Disorder

So I mentioned a week or two ago that I finally pulled my head out of the sand, took off my rose-colored glasses, and told my 10-year old daughter that I had an eating disorder. Here is the letter I wrote and read to her, to get the conversation going… MamaV just posted it on We Are The Real Deal but I think this topic is an important one and I wanted to post it here as well….

My Dearest Daughter,

Mommy wants to share something with your about herself that I think you are old enough and mature enough to understand. This is something that is private and personal. It is just between you, daddy and me. We will talk to your little brother when he is a little older when he will be old enough to understand. This is not something that you should talk to your friends about or other members or our family, it’s just between the three of us because we know that we can trust you to keep it private. If you want to talk to the school guidance counselor about it, you can, but no other adults or kids, ok? Do you have any questions about that?

Do you know what an eating disorder is? …. Eating disorders are an illness, something that people have inside them, something that they can’t control without a lot of help and hard work. You will probably hear about them in school, you will probably have friends who have them. There is anorexia, bulimia and compulsive eating.

Mommy has an idea disorder. Mommy is a compulsive eater. This is mommy’s issues, not yours. It started in my childhood. That means for 30 years or so, Mommy has had an addiction to food. For a long, long time, mommy would eat tons of food, even when I wasn’t hungry. That is called bingeing. I did not listen to my body about when I was hungry and when I was full. I would sneak food, hide food and make myself sick from eating too much.

Long before I met daddy and before you were born, mommy’s weight got very high many times. I would lose weight and gain weight. I was unhealthy and didn’t feel very good about myself. It is a terrible feeling to stuff yourself with food until you sick, yet I somehow couldn’t stop. That’s what compulsive means, it means you don’t think at all, you just do it. In my case, I would eat a lot of food without thinking about what I was doing. Again, this is mommy’s problem, not yours. Do you understand what compulsive overeating means? Do you have any questions about it?

I’m trying very hard to recover from my eating disorder. Thank goodness, mommy has not binged for over two years now. I have lost weight by not binging and by going to the gym. I got my weight down to a place that my body feels good, strong and comfortable. With daddy’s support and yours too, I can continue to work through this and keep getting better. I know that you see me weighing and measuring my food portions. I weigh and measure my food because I don’t want to lose or gain weight; I know just how much my body needs to keep at my weight. Does any of this surprise you? What do you think when you see me weighing and measuring?

Mommy and daddy are scared that the things you see me doing, as I’m trying to recover my eating disorder, are affecting you and how you may feel about yourself. Is that true? Can you share with us your feelings about that?

You are smart, funny, creative and a great daughter. We want you to have self confidence in yourself and proud of who you are. Mommy and Daddy are certainly very proud of the person that you are. Those are things that are on the inside of you. On the outside, you are a beautiful girl. You should feel great and comfortable with your body. Mommy and daddy have told you this before, but you can be anything you want in your life, whatever you set your mind out to do.

I know you see mommy sitting at the computer a lot and have probably heard me talking about blogging or my blog. I started a blog a few months ago about my eating disorder, because it is very helpful for me to write down, or journal, about my feelings about this eating disorder. I have found that there are a lot of women out there who have similar problems with food, so it’s great to ‘talk’ and share with people who understand. These people help me and I help them as well, which is a great feeling.

Do you have any questions or is there more that I can explain to you?

How about you? Have you told your child(ren) that you have an eating disorder? How did you do it? How did it go?

One Day at a Time... Nurture myself... Awareness... Letting Go... Listen to my Body

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Comments

35 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Anonymous Fat Girl
    28 February 2010, 2:16 pm

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you are so BRAVE.

    I’m going to have a talk with my oldest about my eating issues soon. This is a perfect start for me.
    .-= Anonymous Fat Girl´s last blog ..I have a crush on Apolo Ohno (and my husband totally knows) =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    thanks, but i don’t feel all that brave. it was just something that had to be done. i’ve been in denial all this time that my kids don’t see me weighing and measuring my food, as discreetly as i try to do it. i think i will be able to talk to her more about it when she is older and can truly understand.
    i’m glad it at least gave you a place to start for your talk. good luck!

    [Reply]

  2. Misty
    28 February 2010, 4:58 pm

    If you don’t mind me asking, how did she respond?
    .-= Misty´s last blog ..Lunch reviews =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    don’t mind at all, misty! i think she didn’t know quite what to make of it. i don’t think she really understands. she’s only 10 and while i felt it was too young for her to grasp what it all meant, she is old enough to see my behaviors, and i thought it was important to open to the door to further conversations about eating disorders, body image, etc. she has never seen me at my heavier weights and i doubt she has ever seen me binge. all she sees in my weighing and measuring and always using my calculator.

    [Reply]

  3. Jill
    28 February 2010, 8:30 pm

    I have no troubles with food, and started following this blog because it was interesting to me. I am glad that you were able to tell your daughter about this, and as I read your letter I put myself in your daughter’s shoes and what you wrote made a lot of sense and I hope your daughter was able to understand it as well. Like you said, she is only 10 so she probably can’t grasp everything yet, but I loved the writing style of your letter. If my mom had an issue with eating or whatever and I was your daughter’s age, I would definitely appreciate reading a letter that was so well written as yours was. 🙂
    (My mom has in fact written me about things, but that’s not important, I just wanted to applaud you on your great writing style)

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    thanks so much, jill, for all your kind and supportive words, i really appreciate it (and am secretly jealous that you have no troubles with food! =) ).

    [Reply]

  4. Gina Fit by 41 Maybe 42
    28 February 2010, 9:28 pm

    My kids know I want to get healthy, that I’ve been feeding them and myself too much of the wrong foods. They are taking to the increase in veggies, beans and other “better stuff” very well.

    I still closet-eat/binge. I’m not “there,” yet. My 10 year old son started hiding and sneaking snacks/candy (and eat all his Halloween candy in one night a couple of years ago. Broke my heart. (My daughter paces herself, much different, thank goodness). Long story short, I shared with him that I’ve been doing that since I was a kid, and I’m worried about my health. It’s hard for me to be active, etc. …I love him, want him to feel good, if he wants candy, just ask. I don’t think he’s sneaking anymore, but he’s ALWAYS asking.

    Beautiful letter to your daughter.
    .-= Gina Fit by 41 Maybe 42´s last blog ..I Don’t Want This Gift To Myself =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    wow, that is great that you have already talked to your kids, changed your shopping/cooking habits and that they are accepting it so well!! my son can be adventurous w/food, but my daughter is very picky. unfortunately, i was the exact same way and still pretty much am to a certain extent, so it’s hard to make things that she’ll like and i refuse to be a short order cook for her. i always make sure at least two out of the three things i cook (protein, starch, veggie) are things that they like.
    anywho… wow, that must have been rough seeing your son sort of follow in your footsteps with the hiding and sneaking. it’s really impressive that you were able to talk with him about it. the fact that it was “forbidden fruit” for him i’m sure made it all the more tempting. you took that ‘forbiddeness’ away by telling him he just needed to ask for it. i but if he is always asking, gosh, that puts you in an awkward situation of having to moderate for him. *sigh* parenting is not easy, is it? have you ever tried to talk to him about why he wants the candy so much? try to find out what is he using it as a substitute for? i know i always turned to food for comfort and nurturing, although i was too young to know that’s what i was doing. i didn’t realize that until i started therapy in the last couple of years. but maybe because you have this great awareness and a dialogue with him, you can talk to him about it.

    [Reply]

  5. Jill
    28 February 2010, 9:57 pm

    You’re so very welcome. I love reading your blog and commenting on the posts. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat and sometimes will go overboard on eating things, but don’t think I have an actual eating disorder. I’m sorry you are secretly jealous of me. 🙂

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i appreciate your comments and support, jill. i think it’s totally normal to go over once in a while. if it makes you feel better, i’m jealous of all ‘normal’ eaters. =)

    [Reply]

  6. Jody - Fit at 52
    28 February 2010, 10:02 pm

    I read that you don’t think you are brave but I think you are!
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..What I am Doing Today =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    thanks, jody. it was something that had to be done, it was not an option to not do it. to me that is just being real and practical.

    [Reply]

  7. Carly
    01 March 2010, 12:25 am

    You are my hero.
    You’ve touched my heart, and made me realize that I need to share my story, too.
    Thank you.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    oh my goodness, you are so sweet, thank you! good luck when you share!

    [Reply]

  8. Shelby
    01 March 2010, 7:52 am

    Amazing honesty and strength there. YOU are amazing.

    My kids know about my eating disorder but I haven’t really talked to them about it. I guess I should. I’ve always considered them immune because they’re boys but that’s just wrong.

    Thanks for the kick in the seat of the pants.
    .-= Shelby´s last blog ..Lifted Up =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    thank you, shelby. my son is only 7 right now, but i do plan on telling him in a few years. boys suffer from eating disorders too, best to open up the door for future conversations earlier i think.

    [Reply]

  9. Mary Kate
    01 March 2010, 12:28 pm

    great letter! i was feeling anxious while reading it just because it brings up all those emotions I have dealt with in the past. My daughter is also 10 but doesn’t show any signs of troubles. She is adopted and has very thin birth parents so I think she is lucky that she will not have to grow up in this world having to “worry” about her weight…although as I write that it doesn’t come across right. She will struggle with something (and does get teased about being ‘skinny’) but I am happy she won’t be worried about her weight as young as I was.

    do you feel you will be able to give up obsessing over the counting calories/weighing food issue? all my bingeing was done privately so my children didn’t see that but they did see me with my notebook where I would write down my food, count points, journal my emotions, etc. I am sure i looked as frustrated as I felt and carried myself throughout the day with that same feeling. I was worried most about passing along that love/hate relationship with food than anything. But I couldn’t give that up until I freed myself from bingeing.

    I hope that came across right. I am not trying to criticize your letter just thinking what my letter to my daughter would contain. Great job with this!
    .-= Mary Kate´s last blog ..Photo Shoot…. =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    thanks, marykate. my daughter is thin too, but it’s concerning because from the age of 9-10 she lost 2 lbs instead of gaining five. so whereas in the past i may have been more concerned with the possiblity of her gaining, now i’m more concerned with beefing her up. of course, underlying all this is – how is what i’m doing affecting her?
    my binging was mostly done in private too, but now i make sure to casually point out when i’m enjoying a treat. i don’t want her to think i eat healthy every moment of every day, i don’t want her to emulate that. everyone should have treats! she has never seen me at my heaviest weights, so to her i’m someone who is thin.
    i hope to give up the calorie counting/weighing at some point, i’m just not ready yet. i do not feel frustrated about my weight at all, in fact i’m quite happy with it, my craziness now is in staying in recovery, doing the counting/weighing to make sure i don’t lose or gain weight, and of course the binge monster can show up a a moment’s notice.
    and don’t worry, nothing in your comment came across as criticism. if anything, it was “food” for thought. =)

    [Reply]

  10. tanya
    01 March 2010, 1:53 pm

    how did you find the right amout of calories to eat daily without gaining or losing? Also, how many calories do you save for your treat?

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    it was basically a matter of trial and error, tanya. for the past two years or so, i have eaten roughly a certain amount of calories every day: 1730-1750. that got me down to a certain weight and i’ve held it for almost 18 months. so to me, that is my magic calorie number. i still get to eat a pretty decent about of food for my 5’3″ self.

    as for treats, i’m going to assume you mean a true treat for dessert after dinner, although i like to think that i have many treats of stuff i enjoy throughout the day that are healthy. but calorie-wise, my after dinner treat depends on how big my dinner is. if my dinner is low calorie, then i may have 250 calories to play with for dessert. some days, i only have 25 calories, which gets me one dark chocolate hershey’s kiss. =)

    i glad that you stopped by. did that answer your questions?

    [Reply]

  11. Jill
    01 March 2010, 3:24 pm

    It does make me feel better yes, and I will gladly continue to offer my comments and support. 🙂 I’m glad you think that going over once in a while isn’t a bad thing because sometimes I feel really guilty about it. :/

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    we are only human and sometimes we all go overboard. feeling guilty is negative energy. feel bad for a moment, then try to let it go. you can’t go back and change what you did anyway, right?

    [Reply]

  12. Jill
    01 March 2010, 3:54 pm

    Exactly, I never let it get me down for too long. I’ll usually just be like “wow I really ate a lot of (whatever food), I should really cut back” or something positive like that. I never beat myself up for it or talk negatively to myself about it. 🙂

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    we should all be able to do that!!!! that is what sets the ‘normal’ eaters apart from us disordered eating ones.

    [Reply]

  13. Jill
    01 March 2010, 4:22 pm

    True it does, but I think you in particular are doing a fantastic job! 🙂

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    aw, thanks! i’m a work in progress. =)

    [Reply]

  14. Jess
    01 March 2010, 7:44 pm

    You got me crying full on, here. That was so beautiful, revealing, and even painful. But it was so hopeful, too! I have no idea what else to say except I gotta go get tissues.

    You are such a fantastic ambassador of hope through abstinence. Thank you so much for fighting for your life so you could inspire people (okay, me) to keep working toward my humanity through sanity.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    oh my goodness, jess, i don’t know what to say to respond to your overwhelmingly kind words, thank you!

    [Reply]

  15. […] reading a wonderfully touching blog post today all I could think of was my little girl.  I can’t remember how many times my friends […]

  16. […] wrote a powerful letter to your daughter revealing your eating disorder. How do you suggest parents who’ve struggled with […]

  17. […] beautiful and thought-proving as they were, none was more heart-wrenching than Love2Eat at Confessions of a Compulsive Eater‘s letter to her daughter. In it, she shares the letter she wrote to her ten-year old, in […]

  18. sprinkles
    10 December 2010, 10:32 am

    For as long as I can remember my mother had weight issues (she’s a binger as well). Reading this brought such emotion to me. I wish my mother would have been brave enough to say these words to me. I am not overweight and never have been, in fact I’m as close to picture perfect healthy as possible. But the fear that I will one day become my mother haunts me each and every day. If only she would’ve said to me, “this is my issue, not yours” how things could be so different. It’s an impossible thing for others to understand – the mother-daughter relationship with food. But it’s a strong, underlying tone and I applaud you for doing this.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    thank you so much for writing! it’s interesting to hear it from your perspective. i’m not sure, at age 10, how much my daughter absorbed, if she truly caught that it was my issue, not hers, but i feel good about opening the door of conversation about the topic. i truly hope that she can now feel totally comfortable talking to me about any food-related issue.

    [Reply]

  19. Vix
    26 July 2011, 1:33 pm

    Hi, I wouldn’t say that my relationship with food is totally healthy, but I go through phases. However my 10 year old daughter is eating secretly, sneaking food, even raw bacon from the fridge. Last week I discovered that she had made herself sick. She says it’s the first time she has been successful, although not the first time she has tried. She says it started two years ago when my dad was dying of cancer and I wasn’t around much, she felt emotional and it filled a gap. After being looked at as if I’m making it up (as she is a little over weight) thedoctor has finally referee her to an ED councillor. Please give me any advise you can. I also took the line sometime ago that as long as she wasn’t secretive or lying all she needed to do was ask. Each time it has worked for a couple of weeks and then she has reverted. I now have a cupboard which all my children can help themselves from (healthy stuff) without asking. But I worry as her weight can fluctuate by as much as 9-10 lbs in a month. But then I worry that it’s my underlying anxiety that is causing the problem. What do you think?

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    first of all, my heart goes out to you and your daughter. this is not easy for either of you.
    i am no expert, but it sounds to me like you are doing all the right things and quite frankly, i am very impressed with your 10-yr old who was able to verbalize the reason she turned to food. you don’t want to turn this into a power struggle, sounds like you aren’t doing that. you want her to think of food as something to just fuel her body, not take care of any emotional reasons.
    i think seeing a therapist is the best way for her to work through the pain, as well as defense mechanism of turning to food for comfort, so again, you are totally on the right track!
    best of luck to the both of you.

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply:

Name *

Mail (hidden) *

Website

CommentLuv badge