Diets Don't Work,  Eating Disorders,  Mental health



Recently, I lost a friend to the horrible disease of anorexia. I know she wanted to live. I also know she wanted the pain to end. She wasn’t purposefully not eating to try to end her life. Anorexia is a disease that confuses the brain and takes it over to the point where you cannot make rational decisions about your health. It is a mental disorder, and with it comes the fear of food and fear of fat.

Medical definition of anorexia and atypical anorexia[i]

Anorexia Nervosa: 307.1 (F50.01 or F50.02)

  1. Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health. Significantly low weight is defined as a weight that is less than minimally normal or, for children and adolescents, less than that minimally expected.
  2. Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, or persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain, even though at a significantly low weight. +
  3. Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or persistent lack of recognition of the seriousness of the current low body weight.
  4. Atypical anorexia nervosa: All of the criteria for anorexia nervosa are met, except that despite significant weight loss, the individual’s weight is within or above the normal range. (Author’s note: This is much more common than anorexia itself.) [ii]

I want to note that even the medical definition does not use the word calories; it uses the phrase restriction of energy, as that is all that calories are.

The terrible thing about anorexia, or any eating disorder, is that it affects those who are small, those who are exceptionally large, and everyone in between. It affects men, women, and all sexual orientations. It affects all races. It affects all socioeconomic brackets. It affects people of all ages, from the incredibly young (I have seen a 6-year-old with anorexia) to those who in the final stages of their lives. There is no age limit for this disease. It does not only affect the young white upper-class teenager, that is a stereotype = inculcated by the media.

My friend who passed was just 30 years old. She had a whole life in front of her. She tried to get help and went to many treatment centers. The insurance companies failed her. The treatment centers failed her. Medical professionals failed her. Her parents failed her by not supporting the love of her life. It was the eating disorder community who gave her the support and encouragement she needed to fight. We loved her.  People struggling with their own eating disorders were the first ones by her side, and her partner never left her side either. Those who have recovered from an eating disorder helped her see the light in recovery. But it was not enough; her brain had been overtaken.

It is a hard thing to watch, someone dying because of an eating disorder. It is a slow, painful death. You wake up every morning with the thought, “darn, I woke up,” but you go to bed at night with the thought, “please let me wake up in the morning.” I cannot tell you how many times I said those words to myself, and for those friends who loved her, and me, it was pure hell to watch. You know you are dying, but the fear of gaining weight and the fear of food is something your brain just will not let you get past. You get to the point where your brain does not have enough nutrition to even think rational thoughts.

Death is such a permanent thing. That is an obvious statement. I do not believe anyone really wants to die. Even those who have died by suicide did not really want to die, they just wanted the pain to end. I know my friend did not want to die. She wanted the pain from all the trauma that she had experienced in her life to end.  She wanted to be able to live like everyone else lives, and eating normally and living a healthy, prosperous life.  Sometimes though, factors like trauma, social influence, bullying and teasing, and sexual trauma memories, take such a great hold on that person that they are not strong enough to fight them on their own.  In my friend’s case, the insurance industry and the medical industry, and even certain eating disorder treatment facilities let her down. We need to stop this NOW!  The death rate for eating disorders is the second highest of all mental disorders, after opioid deaths. [iii]  Every 52 minutes someone dies because of an eating disorder.[iv]  This needs to change.

We, as the general public, need to stand up to the cultural ideal that thin equals healthy, and that we all have to look like the celebrities touting their diet teas, or all the weight loss companies saying “you can lose 20 pounds in a month.”  This includes everything from the companies that say, “we’re not a diet, we’re a lifestyle change.”  to the companies that tout wellness programs – only eat plants, cut out all carbs, or you can only eat during this time frame.  They are all playing on the ideal that thin bodies are the healthy bodies. The diet industry is worth $72 billion dollars a year here in the United States, and over $384 billion worldwide.  Imagine, if you will, what all that money could do if we all started to ignore all the lies that the diet industry sells us.  They cater to our insecurities and the idea that we are not good enough as we are.  They tell us that we need less, and we need to be less. This also must change, and it all starts with us.  We can be the change.

Therefore, I am deeply passionate about stopping the current dissemination of all the diet propaganda and all the diet culture ideals.  I want to stop people from developing eating disorders.  I want to teach the next generation of children to not fear their bodies, and I want them to understand that all body types are good.  We are not all meant to look alike.  It has taken me 64 years to get to a point where I, for the most part, accept my body.  Do I love it, no!  But I appreciate all that it does for me.  No longer am I afraid that I will not wake up in the morning, and no longer do I go to bed wishing I would die.  No longer does the fear of being fat (and I am) control all the food I put in my body or all the exercise that I “should” do.

I am sad now.  Sad for my friend, and sad for all the people whose lives she touched.  I am also sad that these are the statistics for eating disorders today.  Will you help me stand up to the pervasive diet culture in our world?   Join me on the journey to self-discovery and discover ways to stand up to the diet culture industry.  Together we can make a difference, and hopefully keep people safe from going down that path of destruction.

Please, if you are struggling with an eating disorder or have disordered eating habits, reach out.  You can contact me.  There’s also a list of resources on my website (   There are people that can help you discover freedom in food, and in your body. Your life does not have to be controlled by food or the scale.







  • Christi Gibson

    I felt as though I was reading something that i, myself, had written.. This is so me. Every single part. I too am an anorexia survivor, fighter, etc. I’ve dealt with it for 30+ years. I’m 45 now. So my whole life. I survived a mere 10% chance of making it thru a night in January 2016.. that close to death. Now, I’m in recovery–inpatient treatment free since May 2018. I never in a million years thought I would be where I am today. Never. I am so passionate of helping others.. of being a mentor and someone who can say , yes, I fought a big, horrible fight and I’m on top. If I can, ANYONE can! 🙂

    • Deb


      I am so glad this resonated with you and I am also sorry that it resonated with you. You know the life of an eating disorder and understand where I am coming from. It’s a shame that there are so many of us who really do understand the trauma of an eating disorder. I am very glad you found recovery. It is really a blessing to be able to tell people there is hope and you are now able to say that. Stay strong! We got this!