Did I Choose My Eating Disorder? | Fuel For Freedom

Did I Choose My Eating Disorder?

I hate making decisions.

Even picking a restaurant takes me an hour. I mean, who really wants to choose between a burger and sushi? (And don’t even get me started on when we actually get to that restaurant and the waiter hands me my menu.)

Decisions are scary.

Choosing one thing often means not choosing the other. It means deciding what really matters to us. What will really help us in the future.

Sometimes we choose “wrong.”

It could be as simple as eating that greasy pizza when you know it will give you heartburn. Or it could be more serious. You could choose one job offer, only to realize a few months later that you’d prefer to lie on a bed of nails than work for that company.

Did I Choose My Eating Disorder? | Fuel For Freedom

But do you choose having an eating disorder?

Society seems to think so. Eating disorders can be cast off as “diets-gone-wrong.” Girls who took the 1,200 calorie rule just a little too far. Guys who just wanted to cut weight for their sports and didn’t stop. College athletes who just spend a bit too long in the gym.

We’re supposedly in an “astronomical” obsesity epidemic, and diets seem to be the opposite to that. And, hey, diets take will-power, right? If you have the power to resist picking up a cookie, you’re strong. If you have the power to muscle through four-hour workouts on nothing but egg whites and a protein bar, you’re strong. You must have decided to control your body, no matter what.

Eating disorders can also be condemned as vain. Oh, she wants to eat only a cup of soup and an apple all day, so that she can have a thigh gap? How vain. He exercises and purges so that he won’t gain weight to cover up his six-pack abs? How selfish.

Did I Choose My Eating Disorder? | Fuel For Freedom

Calling eating disorders “diets” or egotistical make it seem like these serious diseases are someone’s choice.

What’s worse, this stigma makes recovery harder. Once you realize you have an eating disorder, you might start to think that you are being vain. That you are guilty of some sort of moral crime. That you should be shameful of the torture you’ve inflicted your body and mind.

However, choosing means you’re in control of the situation. Eating disorders are the opposite of control.mental health stigmas

Did I choose to download a calorie-counting app to keep track of my new “diet”? Yes. Did I choose to start picking the lowest fat yogurt because I thought doing so was healthier? Sure. Did I choose to torture myself in the gym every day? You betcha.

But there other people who start diets, eat “healthy” food, and exercise without it becoming an obsession, an illness.

Eating disorders are a combination of environmental, societal, and biological factors, which makes them so difficult to identify and treat. Studies show the individuals with anorexia have different reward-pleasure wiring in the brain. What’s more, as you decrease your weight, symptoms of starvation set in, such as food-obsession and depression.

Anorexia is a Mental Illness. Not a Diet.

People with certain dispositions, like the desire for perfectionism, also tend to develop eating disorders. I’d like to meet the person who can control the personality they were born with. And eating disoders are shown to occur more frequently if one family member has been diagnosed with one because genes do play a role.

Did I choose certain actions that might have contributed to disordered habits and thoughts, or even set-off my eating disorder? Maybe.

But did I choose to lose my health? Did I choose to become obsessed with food but never eat it? Did I choose to have my clothes sag and fall off my shrinking muscles? Did I choose to let a disease consume and ruin my relationships with others and myself?

Did I Choose My Eating Disorder? | Fuel For Freedom

Just because you break your leg playing soccer doesn’t mean you chose to kick the ball wrong. Just because you cut your finger slicing up an apple doesn’t mean you chose to miscalculate where your thumb was in relation to the knife.

Did I choose to have an eating disorder?

Never.

Can I choose recovery?

You bet.

Thoughts? 

–> Have you ever felt guilty or shameful of your eating disorder?

–> Why do you think mental illnesses have this stigma of being a “choice”?Did I Choose My Eating Disorder? | Fuel For Freedom

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13 thoughts on “Did I Choose My Eating Disorder?

  1. This is something I’ve been struggling with when talking to my mother she never noticed my ED and now that I want to work in that field I talk to her about it and she’ll indirectly be insulting me because she doesn’t know I struggled with it. She thought my weight loss was a medical condition not a disorder. She’s called people with an ED weak, vain, and all the other stigmas which makes me not want to admit to my disorder to her

    • This is why education is so important. More people need to know that EDs are serious illnesses, instead of just getting their “information” from public stigmas or assumptions. That’s great though that you have the courage to want to work in the field and help others!

  2. The amount of misconceptions out there surrounding eating disorders (and any mental illness) drives me crazy. An eating disorder is not a choice, and recovery isn’t as simple as “just eating.” I try to keep in mind that it’s not easy to understand unless you’ve experienced something yourself, but I do wish that people wouldn’t make such ignorant assumptions.

  3. I ABSOLUTELY do not think eating disorders are a choice. I really do not. I think I was genetically dispositioned to have an eating disorder and society certainly played a role in facilitating my eating disorder, but it did NOT cause it. Thank you for weighing in sharing your perspective, girl!

  4. Overall, I agree with you. Eating disorders are the results of choices, but we do not choose to have an eating disorder. I would have never chosen to spend sleepless nights fighting with myself just because I want to get up and eat a bowl of oatmeal. Did I choose to cut out certain foods from my diet? Yes. Were those decisions rooted in vanity? Probably. But no one would choose to be deathly ill.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. I do NOT think that anyone suffering from an eating disorder has a choice.. I mean look at how many people struggle to lose weight or yo-yo their whole life. It’s so much deeper and destructive than just a diet gone bad or a few too many calories cut from your daily consumption. There are events, triggers and memories that lead people to choose the harmful path of disordered eating to sooth their pain.

  6. Absolutely. Absolutely I have felt ashamed of having an eating disorder. My biggest fear is that someone would think I only have an ED out of vanity and body image concerns. But it could not be any further from the truth. EDs are so much more complicated and deep rooted and often have nothing to even do with body image. We make certain choices, but each choice is out of a desperation to protect ourself. So we must feel compassionate about those choices we have made. At the time, we do not know the harm we may be actually causing, and so, no, the cruelties and imprisonment of EDS is absolutely not a choice. Thank you for sharing this!

    • That shame and embarrassment is exactly why we need to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. No one should ever feel ashamed for being sick, just like someone with a cold or cancer wouldn’t feel “shame.” Gosh, I can’t agree with everything you say more!

  7. Hey there! I am so glad I found this post! I struggled with bulimia for 17 years. I did not choose to have an eating disorder. I really think it’s a genetic thing. It’s addiction just like alcoholism or drug addiction but we have to eat! We can’t just walk away from it. I say this because after so many years of bulimia, it wasn’t even about weight anymore. It was just how I dealt with stress. And even after, if I had something really stressful happen, I might have an episode.
    People think it’s a choice because they don’t experience it themselves and can’t imagine what it’s like.
    Thank you for this post! I haven’t read any of your others yet but I am excited to.

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