TAMPA, Fla. - Lori has been wrestling with an eating disorder for more than a decade.
“When I went to college is when my eating disorder really happened," she said. "I was alone and lost. I was afraid of the Freshman 15 and compared myself to everybody."
Lori said at one point she lost 40 pounds and was so frail that it hurt to sit down or take a bath.
“I'd go so long between the times I'd eat, then I'd be out of control, and then I would purge because it was how I felt in control," she said. "It was how I felt I could meet the world's desire to be thin, beautiful and perfect."
A behavior called "chewing and spitting" was recently publicized through an article in Women's Health by Charlotte Lieberman.
Robin Piper, CEO and clinical director of Turning Point of Tampa, says this type of behavior happens more than people think and that it's done by men and women.
"They are getting that reward or taste of flavor, spitting out so they don't have to ingest the calories, don't want to worry about getting fat and they get the satisfaction of eating," Piper said.
The practice can have serious consequences on a person's body, Piper said.
"Esophagus tears or bleeds from purging, problems with hormones, calcium, bone density," she said. "They all happen as a result of not getting good nutrition."
Shame is one of the biggest things people with eating disorders deal with, Piper said.
"People don't talk about the food behaviors they do in private," she said. "So a lot of times they think they're the only one doing an odd behavior."
Lori knows that being honest with herself and others was part of the healing process, but also difficult.
"It's easier to hide," she said. "Nobody would know. It would be easier not do to the interview but I feel like there's a lot missing for girls with eating disorders."
Lori hopes sharing her story will help others take steps to get the help they need.
“I'm tired of this disease slowing me down," she said. "I'm really hopeful that things will change and I can live a life more free."
If you or someone you know needs help with an eating disorder, you can call 800-397-3006 to speak with someone.
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