When we think about someone having an eating disorder, we typically imagine an 80lb waif starving herself to death in pursuit of the perfect figure. What we rarely envision is the man or woman who is overweight and engaging in compulsive eating. “That person doesn’t have an eating disorder,” we say, “They just need to try dieting/lose some weight/exercise some willpower.” Well, I’m here to tell you that the overweight person often has just as much of an obsession with weight loss and body image as the underweight one.
What we need to understand is that compulsive eating is not about a lack of willpower. It is not about being lazy or unconcerned with one’s own well being. It is about a person who turns to food to fulfill their need for comfort and nurturing. Now, having said that, I must clarify that everyone who is at a high or low weight according to society’s standards, is not necessarily suffering from an eating disorder. The need for love, the need for acceptance and the need to feel secure in who they are and their importance in the world is what drives one to disordered eating in the first place.