I have an interesting perspective on eating disorders and keto because it has affected me in several different, significant ways.
When I was in high school, I had gotten a little bit heavy. I wasn’t eating good food, mostly junk as most high school kids do. I started to feel very self-conscious and decided to simply stop eating. Weight fell off of me, and I got so much positive attention for it. No one asked if I was well or how I had lost. Positive reinforcement of negative behavior wasn’t good for me mentally.
I don’t think I ever got in real trouble or experienced much in the way of health consequences at the time, but it definitely made me aware that I preferred extreme eating behaviors to deal with physique. I went on to get into lifting, and my diet changed once again. I followed the low-fat, high-protein, brown rice, “tasteless” diet that all bodybuilding magazines reinforced. This allowed me to eat a lot, and though the food was healthy, I would say I consumed it in an unhealthy manner. I developed a tendency towards disordered eating long before I ever met my wife, Jessyca, at age 22.
My wife and I were both in good shape, but it didn’t take long at all to realize she had a serious eating disorder. She starved for days and days on end. Sometimes she would eat a small amount, like a piece of toast, but would still purge afterwards. She would take boxes and boxes of laxatives too. I saw the toll it took on her body, as she had to be hospitalized more than once. Still, I loved her and wanted to help her, and I ultimately married her.
In our marriage, I saw her cycle through long periods of bulimia, then compulsive overeating, and then starvation again. I don’t know at what point she became truly codependent, but she did. I just wanted her to be happy, and that meant being her supply. If she were determined to binge, I would bring the food she requested. I ate with her, and thus I also binge ate. There were many times we dieted together and lost significant weight, but we always rebounded afterwards. We were partners in crime—in disorder.
There was a point when I was a stay-at-home dad. During that time, I became obese. I was depressed and disgusted by my body and even stopped working out. I binged on junk all day and then binged with her at night. It was my only source of comfort. I constantly looked forward to the next binge.
When my wife left her job and took over home activities, I went back into the workforce and lost some weight. I began to look and feel a bit better. My eating habits were still horrible, but being busy at work all day reeled in the bingeing to a degree.
Meanwhile, I saw Jessyca slide into complete darkness; I barely recognized her anymore. She was miserable, not leaving the house, rapidly gaining weight, and was depressed and suicidal. We tried so many times to do something. We would try to diet for a day or two, but the addiction always took over. As we failed over and over, we both kind of gave up.
My weight soared to well over 260 pounds, and Jessyca was up to 309 pounds. We were in uncharted territory with weight and health. Jessyca’s blood pressure was dangerously high. She experienced black outs and was the most depressed she had ever been. She was on so many medications that she really wasn’t even herself.
Finally, I decided that we had to do something. I could not watch her decline any further. I was afraid she would have a stroke or die. I decided to approach her about us trying a low-carb diet, but I didn’t really make it optional. We had done Atkins in the past and lost weight. Since I did all the food shopping and brought all the food into the house, I could control this. After starting low-carb, we started to feel better and lose weight.
While looking for support pages for her while she was at home all day, I found a ketogenic page and added her to it. She embraced it and learned the difference between “low carbs” and a ketogenic diet for health. She made the changes she needed to like eliminating all sugar and grains while I continued on low-carb.
I realized after a couple of months that something major was happening with my wife. She wasn’t just losing weight, but her spark, her personality, and her energy was coming back! She continued to study and become an expert on all things keto. I did low-carb but with occasional cheats. I really realized she was changing in a way I’d never seen in over 20 years of marriage when I cheated and binged and she did not! This was huge. She did not seem to be tempted at all. We had always engaged in this together, and it was a shock to see her newfound restraint. She shared that she wasn’t purging anymore either. I had never known her to be able to abstain from that for more than brief periods of time. At this point, I decided I wanted to go all-in too. I officially went “full keto” about five months after she did. She was down over 50 pounds at that point, and the last carb day I had was so unpleasant that I decided I never wanted to feel like that again.
That was two and a half years ago, and I have not cheated or looked back since. I lost 70 pounds and began competing in warrior races with obstacles, which I found to be very rewarding. I also have been able to increase my lifting personal records and am leaner than I was 20 years ago in the military. Our children are keto as well. We are thriving as a family—happy and healthy! Keto is how we live now, and we are never going back!
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