Most people have an idea of what an eating disorder is and, as such, have an image in their head of what someone with an eating disorder looks like. It is fair to say that the majority of people would picture a painfully thin teenage girl with her ribs sticking out when they hear the term ‘eating disorder’. However, not everyone with an eating disorder is underweight. In fact, some morbidly obese people are suffering from a devastating food addiction that is threatening to destroy their lives.
Take Blaire Haney from Connecticut, who was so addicted to fast-food that she would eat four burgers and fries as a ‘snack’. By the time she was nineteen, her food addiction had resulted in her weight ballooning to twenty-two stone, and she admits that she often ate until she passed out. Blaire was suffering from binge eating disorder.
Blaire admits that her attitude towards food was always unhealthy. She was fifteen stone by the age of fourteen, and she gorged on food throughout her school years and well into university. Nevertheless, she knew she needed help and has compared her food addiction to a drug addiction. She said, “I always wanted more. I couldn’t stop. It was exhausting wanting to eat and eat all the time.”
Blaire decided to take control of her addiction and joined Overeaters Anonymous. She also came to the decision that she needed to take more drastic action and so had a gastric bypass in a bid to limit the amount of food she could eat.
Thankfully for her, she has managed to lose more than twelve stone and has swapped fast-food for protein and salads. Nonetheless, her dramatic weight loss left her with sagging skin, and she had to have another procedure to remove excess skin and fat.
Blaire spent much of her childhood and teenage years eating massive amounts of food. She would feast on a breakfast of bacon, eggs and chips, followed by two pizzas for lunch. Her mother would cook dinner but in between, Blaire was eating huge bags of crisps and packets of biscuits as snacks.
She would spend all of her pocket money on food and could not go out with friends. However, Blaire was not just gorging on food all day; she was also making herself sick in the mornings and evenings. At the age of fifteen, she was diagnosed with binging-bulimia.
Blaire said, “I would think about food all the time. When I was eating breakfast, I would think, ‘What am I going to eat for lunch and dinner’ and ‘when am I going to go to McDonald’s?’”
She suffered from low self-esteem, as most people with an eating disorder or food addiction do, and said she often thought to herself that she did not deserve to be healthy. She felt it was as if she did not have an ‘off-switch’ to tell her she was full. She continued eating until she passed out.
After admitting her eating habits to her parents during her teenage years, Blaire was given counselling, but sadly it did not work, and she continued to binge-eat. She entered a rehabilitation centre for two months when she was eighteen in the hope that she could beat her food addiction. She received counselling every day and was made to weigh her food. She was also supervised after eating to prevent her from purging herself.
Blaire lost over two stone in rehab, and when she left she said she felt much better, both mentally and physically. Nevertheless, on her return to college, she suffered a relapse and began binge eating again. Blaire was eating in secret in the middle of the night and started to pile on weight.
By the end of 2012, she weighed twenty-two stone, and a doctor suggested that she continue with counselling, but that she also consider a gastric bypass. He said this could be the solution to her problems and stop her binge eating. Blaire said, “I needed to do something. I decided the gastric bypass was my last option in making my life worth living and taking my body back.”
She is now a UK size 8-10 and weighs a little over ten stone. She said she feels fantastic and sticks to small portions these days, despite having the occasional fast-food treat.
A food addiction can be a devastating illness that causes both mental and physical health problems. Those with a binge eating disorder are unable to stop eating, even when they are full. They often eat in secret, and some will continue to eat until they are physically sick.
This typically leads to weight gain and problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. A food addiction is a mental health disorder, but the good news is that treatment is available. If you or someone you love is struggling with a food addiction, contact us here at UKAT today for more information on how we can help.
If you successfully complete our 90-day inpatient treatment program, we guarantee you'll stay clean and sober, or you can return for a complimentary 30 days of treatment.