Yes, It Really Starts this Early

This morning, a friend of mine shared this article on her Facebook page, entitled, “Uh Oh: My Child Might Have An Eating Disorder”. I gave it a read, as this is the sort of thing that’s relevant to some of my interests, and I was curious to see what the situation was.

The article doesn’t say how old the child in question is, but she’s pretty young. And I would be willing to bet money that there are people out there–because this is the internet–frothing at the mouth because of how alarmist this article is. The child couldn’t possibly have an eating disorder, she’s too young.

If a disorder is a thing that disrupts or prevents conventional or healthy behavior, then it is entirely possible for a young child to have an eating disorder. And more to the point, I know this because mine began when I was a young child.

This article actually made me remember some things about myself that I’d forgotten. Like how, once when my (step) uncle was visiting, we made cookie dough and put it in the freezer to chill. Then something happened, and the cookie dough was forgotten, and we never actually made cookies. Except I didn’t forget about the cookie dough, and I would sneak it compulsively. (This was at the age of seven or eight, folks.) I used to sneak candy all the time. Like the child in the article, I would also get really excited about sweets, and would ask for them at odd times of the day. I was much better able to get away with this at my dad’s house than at my mom’s, and I remember frequently eating ice cream at odd times, or drinking can after can after can of soda because it was so good, I just couldn’t stop. One year, for Christmas, my Papaw gave me twenty dollars. I walked to the Village Pantry near my dad’s neighborhood and spent all of it on donuts and ate them all myself. Twenty dollars worth of glazed donuts is a lot of fucking donuts.

When the friends I had in my dad’s neighborhood would have slumber parties, I remember I would get so full on snacks and soda that I would consider making myself throw up so that my stomach would stop making me miserable.

If the compulsory ingestion of a substance known to be harmful to oneself is not the hallmark of an addict, I don’t know what is. I am an addict. And I started really, really young.

I’ve been worse about my intake this last week than I thought I was. I’m back around 180. I will be asking for another adjustment when I go to see my surgeon in a week or so (and not just because of the weight increase, but because of part of what’s causing the weight increase–I’m having issues with actually feeling hungry). And I do have the business card for an addiction counselor that my surgeon recommended. I’m just waiting to contact her until we figure out what’s going to happen with our insurance next year. …which leaves me in a bit of a lurch over the next two months, which, lucky for me, are The Holidays.

(Pro Tip: For anyone working their way through compulsive overeating/other eating disorders, the holidays are an absolute nightmare.)

So yes: It is very possible for a young child to have an eating disorder. I only hope that it’s also possible for a young child to overcome an eating disorder if it’s recognized and treated early on. And I wish that family all the best.

Edit: Oh, and by the way, I thought I should give you all fair warning. In conjunction with that whole holiday thing I mentioned, I also suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder, which you may know by the term “seasonal depression”. It is therefore very possible that my posts may start becoming less thoughtful or exuberant and more negative, as part of the reason this blog exists is for my own catharsis. It’s not guaranteed that it will happen. Last year, for example, I was barely bothered by the winter, and there were plenty of non-SAD reasons for me to be down about things–and I wasn’t. But this year…this year, I started feeling ghosts of it a couple of weeks before Halloween. So if my posts take a turn for the negative, just know that it’s caused by a combination of food cravings and the weather, and that the blearch should subside on the nice, bright sunny days.


4 thoughts on “Yes, It Really Starts this Early

  1. coemaria says:

    The child in the article is 8, almost 9. I know them personally. I read a couple other places on the blog you mentioned about how the daughter was always sneaking and hiding food. I actually mentioned to my friend, that I was worried that their daughter may have a problem with food. I am just very glad they are willing to even begin to look at this for their child, to notice that her relationship with food isn’t a normal one.

    I plan on blogging about this, too. I will say that, right now, what I need is someone to help be be accountable for the food I shove in my face and why I want to shove it there.

    I understand the financial thing. I do. Our insurance isn’t due to change until next spring, but I know it’s going to jump up a lot. I’ve tried looking at the government’s market place, but it’s down right now and I don’t know when it will be up.

    I very much agree that the holidays are the hardest time for anyone with a food (or any other) addiction. It makes it flare up more. It’s harder to resist those urges because everyone wants you to eat.

    I am going to save a lot of this for my blog and share your link on to my friends.

    I am very proud of you. I love you. You rock!

    • Astrid says:

      I’m proud of you too, sweetie. It really does take a lot to admit to having a problem. It makes you face it, and facing it is hard. I’m always here if you need me.

  2. Hershey249 says:

    I concur about the fact that this starts early. It’s possibly even more severe in childhood when your parents were, are, and always will be frighteningly skinny (and I mean frighteningly, past the point of “attractive”) health freaks with restricted diets, either due to allergies or to voluntary vegetarianism. This did not bode well for a child with emotional problems and a longtime love for anything labeled “bad for you” by said parents. Including fruit and nut granola bars.

    I am still embarrassed that when I go to my parents’ house and stay overnight while in town, once in a while I end up eating when I shouldn’t be. Old habits die hard. I wish there were a once-size-fits-all treatment for people like you, me, and the girl in the article, but unfortunately addictions don’t work that way. In any case, may you get through the holidays with relatively little damage, and I hope you feel better re: the SAD.

    • Astrid says:

      I understand where you’re coming from regarding the parental influences. I don’t know if eating when I’m stressed, unhappy, etc. is a learned or innate behavior (or a little of both), but my mom and several other family members do it, too, so it’s entirely possible that if it IS learned, that’s where I got it from. I do sort of have to think it’s a little of both, though–endorphin release triggered by the ingestion of certain foods isn’t exactly something an outside influence can teach, I don’t think 😛 Regardless, dear, I sympathize. It’s difficult to develop a healthy attitude toward food when your primary mentors don’t have one, either.

      As for the holidays, thank you! May you do the same!

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