Curious about eating disorders

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-25-2008
Curious about eating disorders
Fri, 07-05-2013 - 8:12am

I am just curious as to what you think may have caused your eating disorder. My neice has been diagnosed with one and her mother and I are trying to understand it. My sister feels that maybe she caused it and wants to try to fix what she may have done. I would love to hear your honest opinion on why you think you may have developed an eating disorder.


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-06-2007
Tue, 07-09-2013 - 12:22am

Hi and welcome :)

  This is such a tough question because I can't honestly pinpoint a specific cause. I've spent so much time trying to figure that out for myself and I can't. I think the ED manifested over time for me. I never had a healthy relationship with food. I watched my entire family yoyo diet and they all used food as a source of comfort. I was always told that when I hit puberty I'd gain weight. Then it was when I have kids...then when I hit 30..and so on. I guess I had in my mind from a very young age that I would prove them wrong. I didn't want to be like the rest of my family. The irony is although I didn't become overweight( like my family) I was exactly like them. I used food as a tool. It's my coping mechanism just as it is their coping mechanism. The only difference is that they overeat. I just don't eat.

Even with that said, the ED never spiraled out until I was an adult. I was able to somehow keep from acting on ED behaviors even though the mindset had been there for as long as I can remember. Even though I think my family played a part in my way of thinking about food, I wouldn't say they were the cause of me having an ED. I think there were a number of things that went into it fully developing into an eating disorder...depression, anxiety,etc. 

ED is an addiction and there really is no one to blame. My mom felt the same as your sister but it really upset me because I felt guilty that she blamed herself and that guilt turned to resentment. i resented her for thinking she could just "fix" me because ED doesn't work like that. Now, I do understand why she felt the way she did and I can appreciate that she cared. But honestly it wasn't her fault nor anyone else's fault.

I'm sorry I'm probably all over the place here :P I wish I could come up with a real concrete answer to your question but I really don't think there's one particular cause. I feel like the ED manifested over time. I kind of gave up looking for a reason. All I can do is recognize things that trigger my ED and work on moving forward. Yes I've had to work on some underlying issues but even in that process I had to hold myself accountable and learn healthy coping mechanisms. It's an ongoing process.

I'm sorry you all are going through this! Please don't blame yourselves though. Your niece needs your support more than anything else. Your niece may not even understand yet. Is she in counseling? Does she struggle with depression? I know depression was a HUGE part of what led to me acting on my ED. It all takes time.

Keep us posted! I hope this made a little bit of sense. I know it's confusing.


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-13-2013
Sat, 07-13-2013 - 5:11pm

Personally, i feel the main component is your environment. For me, my family placed too much importance on appearance, I was either too fat or thin, lots of discouraging comments from a young age. That coupled with being an athlete in high school, when I began my bout with bulimia, is what I felt was the cause for mine.

Do not blame yourself. It is a mental disorder that stems from a severe lack of self worth and the want to please others and feeling unable to meet their expectations. Alot of young girls are prone due to seeing the bulimic/anorexic behaviors in those around them as well. It is an addiction and obsession. Mine began at the age of 15 and I am now 28 and still exhibit negative bulimic behavior. However, I only saught therapy for a year. So, if you tackle the issue now strongly and be supportive there is a great chance you will be able to successfully overcome the disease.

Keep in mind, you can only help someone who is ready to admit they have a problem and want to get better. If they arent ready, just be patient, supportive and understanding.