Binge Eating Therapy

Friday Q & A– I can’t stop dieting– I just want to be a normal teenager



Hi, I’m a 16-year-old Asian who’s had an eating disorder for almost one year. When I was as young as 13 I was already at a weight of 60kg/132lbs. I began feeling more insecure about my body after that so I went on a diet and lost 10kg/22lbs. But as days go by there’s always a voice in my mind that says I don’t look good enough and there’s always that big stomach of mine underneath my clothes. As of now I’m at a height of 161cm/5ft 3in and a weight of 45kg/99lbs.

No one knows about my diet and everything I did to lose weight although my friends and family have been saying “Since when did you get so thin?” these kind of things to me for the past year. I made my decision to recover in April 2011. But it’s just so, SO hard to completely recover and I really don’t want to see a doctor, I just don’t. I count calories every day and I try to keep them no more than 1500 but sometimes I’m just so upset that I haven’t lost my tummy weight I start binge eating and reach 2000 calories in a day!

I’m so tired of counting calories, weighing myself every day, exercising (running, jogging, dancing, sit-ups) in my room.. But I just can’t help it. Last night my parents brought me to a restaurant for dinner and as soon as I came home I saw my bloated, really huge stomach in the mirror and only went to sleep after I jogged in my room for about 20 minutes.

Please help me. I want to live a normal teenager life with no worries about weight at all, and I’m now worried of the fact that I haven’t had my period for 3 months and a half. I want to be able to live like my friends who can eat whatever they want and will never be weight-conscious, and I’m really, really afraid of weight gain. I’ll just start exercising again. I want a real meaningful life at a young age of 16…

And one more thing. I’m a huge fan of Korean music industry and the female celebrities (who have such great bodies and long legs) often remind myself how imperfect I am..

Sincerely, Kim


Kim, thank you so very much for writing. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. It sounds really, really difficult.  I know that you don’t want to go to a doctor– that’s not unusual, but I’m very concerned about your health. Your weight puts you at underweight and the fact that you’re in amenorrhea (no period) shows that there is something very serious going on with your health. I do think that you need to tell your parents what’s going on and have them take you to a doctor and a therapist who specialize in treating EDs.

What seems to be happening is that you’re beginning to listen to the voice of ED. That’s the voice of your eating disorder that tells you wrong information, such as “you’re too fat,” or “your belly is big, you can’t eat anymore, you have to stay up and exercise before you’re allowed to go to sleep because you’ve eaten too much.”    ED is what drives you to see yourself in a distorted way. ED is what tells you that you’re not good enough. ED is what provokes you to look at pictures of pop-stars and tell yourself that you’re not good enough because you don’t look like them.

Your belief that you haven’t “lost your tummy weight,” sounds like a cognitive distortion to me. Something that appears true in your mind, but isn’t reality. Lots of women have distorted body images where they see their bodies very differently than the way most others see them.   Unfortunately, when you get stuck in that loop, it’s hard to get out of.  You keep hearing in your head that you’re not good enough and you spend all your time trying to make yourself good enough and you miss out on your life. Not to mention that restricting your calories so low can lead to cardiac arrest, and your other organs shutting down, and eventual death.

So, this kind of eating disorder is not just dangerous emotionally, but dangerous physically.

1.)Please tell your parents immediately and tell them that you absolutely need treatment. Treatment should be a therapist, a group, a doctor or outpatient or residential treatment.

2.)If your parents are not receptive, tell someone at school, a teacher, school nurse, guidance counselor, etc.

3.)Try not to let yourself focus on pictures of other women and tell yourself that they are better than you. Begin to think about what is wonderful about you and how you can continue down that path to create the life that you want for yourself.  Often we get into the compare and destroy mode. We compare ourselves to someone, decide that we are not good enough, then decide that we might as well not exist because we are not “as good” as that other person. It gives us very little room for being who we are.

4.)Remember that your beliefs about your weight and your size and the way you look and your fears about getting fat are nothing more than fears and beliefs. They are not factual or based in truth. This is the kind of messages that your eating disorder sends to you. As you work to recover, you can change these beliefs.


I hope that you’ve found something here helpful and I hope that you get the help that you need. Please email me if you need further help or have more questions.

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