Disordered Eating is a Personality Killer

Vacations are a time to have fun, relax, and maybe even let go of food rules. My sister and I just returned from an amazing trip in Bermuda. We were texting back and forth about the trip she wrote something that made me realize how much disordered eating can be a personality killer. She wrote: 

“P.S. - You’re much more fun when you are living in the moment and not caring if you eat Popcorners for lunch!!!”

Ever hear of Debbie Downer or Negative Nelly? I think I may know them well.

After I read my sister’s text the first thing I did was laugh. I’m glad she thinks I’m more fun to hang out with now vs. when I was disordered with eating and exercise. During those day I lived every moment around what I was going to eat, when I would eat, when and how I would workout, if I worked out enough, if I ate too much, and on and on. 

Next, I realized how much disordered eating has affected my personality and how others perceived me. I basically was a huge pain in the ass! Moreso to family members. You know how it is with family. I think many friends saw me as “healthy” and very into nutrition (the dietitian!) and working out. My family saw me as crazy, disordered, obsessed, annoying, too much, and they wanted the old Alison back. 

Disordered eating & chronic dieting can be a personality killer. They suck the life out of you and the party out of your life!.png

This one text made me reflect on my life with disordered eating and its influence on my personality. In high school when the eating disorder began, my life was a structured, sheltered, rigid, perfectionist, and depressed mini-hell. I was miserable no matter what I did. I hated high school, didn’t go to proms, hated my town, and wanted to disappear slowly. The act of disappearing thankfully turned into one of the best decisions I could have made… going away to college. 

Once in college something changed. I was six hours from home. I was a new face to everyone and everyone was new to me. Working with a therapist at home the summer before college and this new life change of being on my own at 18 years old brought out what my sister would probably call “Fun Alison”. I quickly let go of all the food nonsense and became for the first time in years - the real Alison. That didn’t come without some heavy duty bumps in the road, but alas, I was free of the eating disorder torture. 

My personality was different while in college. I was up for anything. I laughed a ton. I was extremely social and joined a sorority. I loved meeting new people and making friends. I ate whatever I felt like eating. I never even considered diets. My weight crept up quite a bit and it didn’t really matter. 

Not-so-fun Alison didn’t come back until my late 20’s and around 30 when the eating disorder came back. I didn’t see it coming. After the high school ordeal I really never thought I’d be that way again. But there I was, obsessed, scrutinizing every morsel of food, all the exercise in the world wasn’t enough, the dropping of pounds not good enough, and quite frankly, the lower the scale dropped, the deeper “Fun Alison” was buried. Maybe it had something to do with me returning to school to change careers and become a dietitian. Or maybe it had to do with the nutrition counseling job I had in a personal training gym. Or that I was married for a few years and stressing about when to start a family but also get a masters in nutrition.

Hmmm. I think it was all of that.

When you’re not eating enough and working out so much it drains you. It steals the fun side of you. All you can think about is food. You worry all the time that you will “get fat” or that maybe you are not “thin or fit enough” even though you just lost a bunch of weight. You become depressed from lack of energy. Fatigued. Extremely irritable and lash out at the people around you for no good reason. 

When it was time for my husband and I to start building a family I had to gain weight and stop messing around with my body. This was serious and for real. My period was missing for one year, an obvious sign my body was screaming out loud to me: GIRL, YOU’RE NOT WORKING PROPERLY!!

Shortly after the birth of my second son I fell back into my eating disorder hard. Something about carrying babies around, gaining weight, losing my freedom, and becoming responsible for two beautiful lives ended up flipping a switch in my brain and the best way I knew how to cope was turn on my body. And “Fun Alison” was yet again buried. 

Who wants to go away on vacation with someone who keeps saying: 

I feel fat.

I think I gained weight.

I am eating too much.

I think I’ll have a salad.

I should workout.


Since ridding myself of restricting food, stepping on a scale, and forcing myself to exercise when I wasn’t really feeling it, I am more a true version of myself. Free. Not really giving two sh*ts. Up for *almost* anything. Not snapping at people. Not waking up in the morning fatigued and feeling like I’m moving through sludge. Not needing to follow a rigid, structured schedule with food and exercise. 

On our Bermuda trip I ate buffet breakfast every morning. I laid on a beach and didn’t stress that I wasn’t moving my body. YES, I ate Popcorners and other carbohydrate snacks out of packages as my lunch. Oh, and I may have sipped beers or fruity, tropical drinks all day long.  I had appetizers, pre-dinner drinks, and then went out to dinner. 


Say I felt fat.

Worry about my weight because I haven’t weighed myself in a year. 

{Yes my pants felt a bit snug on my flight home. Whatever!}

I didn’t freak out and hyperventilate.

I knew I’d get back into regular eating and my usual exercise habits when I returned home. 

I focused on relaxing, taking a break from being a mom of two high-energy boys, a break from laundry and dishes, a break from EVERYTHING. 

The uptight, angry, tired, obsessive version of me is just one side effect of food, diet, and exercise compulsion.  It steals your personality. It takes up way too much of your time. We only have one life. Why waste it?