National Eating Disorders Association

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Where To Start?

I have no clue where to begin - but I was hoping someone could maybe make some suggestions?

I think I have an unusual problem - so I am having trouble finding information-

Ok so I know that I do not have anorexia or bulimia. I am not trying to lose weight - I do not binge or purge.

My problem stems from my first semester of college - I went to a different country for school and for the first 4 months I had very little to eat. I had pre-existing special dietary restrictions so my mom went with me all the way to the college to find a dorm with a meal plan that would accommodate these restrictions. We found a very nice residence and the chef promised us they could 100% accommodate me - he basically promised us the moon! So I decided to go there.

Unfortunately, day one meal one - there was nothing for me to eat. I later found out that I wasn't the only one who was promised more than they could handle - a lot of students with life-threatening allergies, students with religious restrictions - they even promised one girl they would cook her kosher meals!

By the end of week one I felt like an animal around food - watching my friends eat I was SO HUNGRY! It was like torture.
When I would eat the food that was prepared for me, I didn't feel like it was nutritious and I had no other options.

At the same time - my workload from my classes was incredible. 7:30am to 6:30pm classes - then until midnight or later finishing homework. On top of a few very traumatic experiences during school - I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.

Now I think I am still feeling the effects of this experience. Honestly, I feel like I have developed a new type of eating disorder.

I constantly feel like I am not getting enough food and feel fear. That there is nothing for me to eat. I get really nervous in restaurants - thinking - will they run out? Will they have anything for me? Food is not enjoyable anymore.

So logically, I think -ok. I have money. I can go to the store and buy food. And I do go to the store and I look around and shop - but I never seem to be able to get anything substantial and nutritious.

I can go a very long time without eating. And yes - I do feel a little weak and unwell from this.

Or- I will have food in the fridge but I don't seem to be satiated by it.

Other things - before I went to school I was very athletic - but now I am terrified to workout because I'm concerned I won't have enough energy because of my eating habits. That I will collapse or something.

For a while, if I wanted to cook or eat something - and went to the kitchen to prepare it - only to find that we didn't have any or that it had spoiled in the fridge - I would just burst into tears - I would feel - literally - devastated.

Cravings are really out of whack too - like if I get a craving for a certain food - but can't have it for whatever reason - again I just feel absolutely devastated.

If I go on a trip and can't find a restaurant - I completely panic.

It is just so bizarre! I just can't seem to break out of this!

Is there a name for this? I would really appreciate any ideas that you might have.

Thank you.

Hi, Leahstars:

Thank you for sharing your experiences here on the forums. I hope you can find the support and advice you're looking for.

I'm not a professional, so I can't give you a diagnosis. However, the important thing to know about eating disorders (or any psychological disorder for that matter), is that if your behaviors or thought processes are getting in the way of your life, and if you find them distressing, then they're worth investigating, even if they don't seem to fit the typical characteristics of a disorder. On the NEDA website, under the Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED) page, they write, "If something does not seem right, but your experience does not fall into a clear category, you still deserve attention. If you are concerned about your eating and exercise habits and your thoughts and emotions concerning food, activity and body image, we urge you to consult an ED expert."
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Additionally, many of the symptoms you describe sound like possible symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Again, I'm not a professional, but that's another impression I got when I read your post. Eating disorders and anxiety disorders often go hand-in-hand, so that's a possibility, as well.

My recommendation is that you talk to a professional who specializes in eating disorders. They will be able to ask you specific questions about your experience, and help you figure out what might be going on. If you need help finding a professional near you, you can call the NEDA Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 (Mon-Thur 9am-9pm EST; Fri 9am-5pm EST) and they can point you in the right direction.

You don't have to go through this alone. We on the forums are here to help you, and a professional can help you figure out what to do. Please keep us updated on the forums, Leahstars! We all wish you the best.

special phobia ?

Hi, leahstars! Thank you so much for reaching out on these forums and sharing your story. I can relate a bit - the way my eating disorder has been presenting itself lately, since I started college, has been a bit unique in many of these ways, as well.
I agree with kelsey207 - though I am definitely not a medical professional, either, I have a range of experiences with eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and trauma. From what you have shared, it sounds like you might have developed a special phobia around food-involved situations - so a type of anxiety disorder.
As kelsey207 said, eating disorders and anxiety disorders have a high rate of comorbidity, so even if you don't have a "primary" eating disorder, you came to the right place!
But to reiterate - I am NOT a medical professional, and I highly suggest you consult one. ED-specialized or otherwise, a therapist will know best how to help you create a better life for yourself after hearing what you've been through.

Keep us updated on your journey! <3
Anna Naomi

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