How Eating Disorder Affects Your Overall Health | Marcie's Story
Today is a personal story and a pretty sensitive topic. I share my story with clients when I feel like it might be helpful for them or if it might resonate, but today I wanna share my story because I know there are so many women and girls out there who struggle with disordered eating just as I have.
A few weeks ago I shared how my poor gut health led to more anxiety for me. But really that was only part of the story. My eating disorder really hurt my gut and that also increased my anxiety. So today I wanna share that part of the story.
It's interesting because I do share this story quite often, but as I'm sitting here today getting ready to record this for all of you, it brings up a lot of emotion. And I feel that a lot of women, girls, and there are even boys and men who struggle with eating disorders, it's kind of always part of you.
And I think in sharing, we can help maybe just one other person, but that one person will impact their whole life. So I encourage everyone who might struggle with this to share their story if they're comfortable.
And even though I sit here right now and tell you I'm a little uncomfortable, it's really just because of the emotion behind it. So let's dig into my story.
How Eating Disorder affects your overall health
So my disordered eating really began when I was about in eighth grade. I lost a lot of weight and was really unhealthfully thin. You know, during that time I was barely eating anything and getting away with whatever.
My parents wouldn't notice that I wasn't eating and it didn't, oh, externally, yeah, it felt good. But internally it was a struggle. And it took a couple of years. But by the time I was a sophomore in high school, I had restored weight.
I was much more healthy and kind of kept that weight on. But my disordered eating thoughts and my relationship with food suffered greatly. There was always a food thought, and it wasn't really until then I got into college where it really took a turn.
So as I entered college, I had always worked out, but once I got away, I was obsessively working out.
And that was something that would just consume me. I had to do a workout, I had to do it for a certain amount of time because on top of that, I was at, I was eating poorly cuz we're in college, right?
I was binge drinking. So I kind of saved all my calories for alcohol and just would work out for hours. And so, that did not make me feel good. And you can about imagine how my gut was feeling at that time.
I really struggled with bloating and gas and constipation and just abdominal pain and nausea and I just felt like, this was just what I was gonna do, right? I didn't. And I think once your gut starts to get worse, you start feeling like, well, I just can't eat anything. So it almost feeds that eating-disordered behavior.
Now, research has shown that 98% of individuals with eating disorders will have a gut impact. And usually what comes out of it is something called IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, which is just kind of a catchall term for many gut issues.
So as my IBS became worse and worse, my eating disorder also did. And by the time I was in my mid-twenties, it was really at its all-time high. I was obsessively exercising, I was restricting food, and I really got down to a very low weight, very unhealthy weight, and remained there for almost 10 years.
And so that impact really took its toll on my gut. And I know today, even though my gut is sensitive still, it's from a lot of that trauma that I did to it. This stretch of time was horrible. Anyone who has struggled with this knows that it's horrible, it's debilitating, it's scary.
You feel out of control even though the one thing you're trying to control is your food. And I feel that it worsened my gut pain, my constipation, my bloating, as I said. And we know that there's a wide range of digestive symptoms that can come from eating disorders.
Things like heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, as I mentioned, abdominal pain. And these symptoms, this list of symptoms is kind of that catch-all IBS syndrome. And the way that our gut is impacted is that as soon as we restrict food, our gut is immediately impacted.
So we know that there are two types of organs in our body, right? We have vital organs, like our heart, lungs, and brain. And then we have the non-vital organs like your gut. And so as soon as you start restricting all those nutrients really are getting outputted to the vital organs.
And so therefore your gut basically is just starving. And of course, when we're cutting back on certain foods or big food groups, we're really missing out on all sorts of nutrition. And, and we know one of the big ones is that keeping a healthy gut means we need a lot of good flora in our gut.
And by taking some of that stuff out, we're missing some of those good fibers and that can help make short-chain fatty acids and keep the integrity of your gut.
So, it's easy to put that connection together that as soon as we start having any kind of disordered eating or restricting or binging or purging, we are shutting down the system of our GI. So after those years of severely restricting food and obsessively exercising, I just came to a point where I had to make a change.
My gut was horrible. The eating disorder was affecting my relationships and just how I even saw myself as a person. And I knew that I needed, I couldn't live like this. I just couldn't. I wasn't gonna do it anymore.
And so, as I do everything on my own time, I started researching and I started making slow changes because as soon as I felt that I could make one change and get really good at it, then I can move on to the next thing. And so I slowly started adding in more protein.
I felt like that was maybe the easiest thing for me to do. And I added in a lot. And as I shared in my other video about my anxiety, it really did help reduce that anxiety.
But the protein also helped me build more muscle, cuz you can about imagine after all of those years of restricting food, I didn't have a lot of muscle. And so I started adding the protein in, and was starting to feel better.
And then I started adding in a lot of fat because I knew that healthy fats would help restore brain health, would help my gut would help all the cells in my body. And I felt like that was very satiating to me.
So as I started putting in protein and healthy fats, I did start to feel better and it took time. But I did restore my weight. And I'm not gonna sit here and say that it was a walk in the park every day was, you get out of bed, you try, and you keep doing what you were trying the day before.
But one of the things that I had to remind myself always is to focus on the day. Not what I did yesterday necessarily. Not what I was gonna do tomorrow, but what I was gonna do that day.
And so I had a say in that I would say to myself every morning or whenever I was feeling frustrated with how things were going with, and it was, and I would say to myself, this is who I am today. And kind of putting that focus on this is what I can do today for myself. So let's do it.
And maybe it's a step backward, but let's hope two steps forward, right? And I kept that saying for years, and I'll even say it today now just for certain things, but I even got a tattoo on my back that, it means that.
And so it was pretty profound for me. But as I started making all those changes, the one thing that was kind of lagging was my gut. So when I felt more comfortable and my weight was more restored, I decided or realized that it was time to really focus on healing and healing my gut and go down that journey.
And it took time. I had done a lot of damage and I knew that it was gonna take time. And I think that with the patients that I had with it, you know what eventually got a lot better. I don't have bloating and constipation or acid reflux or nausea every day anymore.
And I haven't had that for years. And I think that we need to recognize that healing takes time. Healing of our eating disorders takes time, and healing of our guts takes time. But know that you will heal it if you keep putting in the time and effort.
And I know my gut will always be one of my weakest lengths and I'm okay with that, at 48, that's all right. I know the deal and I have a lot of tools in my toolbox if I need them.
But the journey from restoring weight to healing my gut taught me a lot about being patient, determined, and having discipline.
And I think that if you are sitting here listening to my story and maybe it resonates on some level with you or you recognize it in a friend, encourage them to take their one step because every day we make choices and each choice is just one step in the direction that you wanna go in.
Or maybe it's not. And you have to reflect on that. So just know that this wasn't easy, this wasn't, this didn't happen in a year, and this took me years to change all of these things. And know that if you continue on the path that you want to be on, you'll find your health just as I have found mine.
So, good luck to everyone out there. I am happy to work with people who have struggled with this because I know the deal. I've felt it and I know that it's sometimes we need that empathetic ear or someone who has walked in those shoes to really help transform yourself.
So be well. Thank you for listening.
If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.
Or you can just start by downloading our FREE GUIDE: 5 WAYS TO IMPROVE GUT HEALTH