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Kirsten Oelklaus specializes in treatment for teens and adults with eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and emotional eating.
In the field for more than 23 years, she offers insight to disordered eating, some of the challenges people face with anorexia and/or bulimia, and how to recover.
Just like everything in life, recovery is a process. I have been very open throughout my sobriety about other issues I have struggled with, and food is definitely one of them for me.
In this episode, I talk with Kirsten about some of the similarities in the recovery process between substance abuse and eating disorders, and the challenges I have faced in my personal life with eating, shame, and weight.
As an addicted person, I have to always be aware of compulsive behaviors because I have a tendency to be compulsive and I can overdo almost anything. These last few years I have found myself in a battle with food, not only physically with some weight gain, but mentally suffering with the shame of being out of control with food and using it as a means to comfort myself. I isolate with food so no one will know how or what I am eating, or how much.
For me, the first thing I noticed was I gained weight and I was having a hard time losing it. I have fluctuated weight a little bit my whole life- nothing drastic, maybe 5-7 pounds here and there, and it was always easy for me to reel myself in and lose the weight quickly and easily. But not this time.
I found myself a little depressed and feeling bad about myself. I noticed that different foods would affect my mood and my energy, and I continued to eat poorly and gain weight. I felt disgusting, out of control, and awful.
For the past two years I have started almost every day in tears. Standing in my closet searching for something to wear among racks of clothing that no longer fit. Every day I was getting more sad and angry and resentful at myself.
Finally, I had to take action. I signed up for a program that taught me about food and how to balance meals and eat regularly. I first had to change my mindset to not focus on how I looked, but to focus on how I felt. I know when I eat certain foods I don’t feel good, and other foods make me tired. I started to cut out those things.
At this point, I am happy to say I have developed a healthier understanding of food. And this made me so excited to do this interview with Kirsten. I wanted to learn more about myself and my struggles, and of course I want to help others do the same.
There are moments in this interview that Kirsten breaks things down where it feels like she has seen my life and my habits, and she knows what I am battling. And for me, I know I’m not alone.
My journey continues, let me know if you relate to some of this, too.