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Eating huge amounts of food began as early as 8 years of age when life overwhelmed me. Even as a child I ate Addictively. I never felt ‘good enough.’  I felt stupid, and ‘thick’ is the best word I can find to describe the unintelligent feeling. I felt everybody knew more than me and that nobody wanted me as their friend because I had nothing to give.  So, I would hide and eat. As I reflect on those tender years now, I feel so much compassion for myself as a young girl that I could cry.

I grew up in a family where I perceived the norm was “children were to be seen and not heard.“ I had a domineering mother and a passive father – or so I perceived at the time. Like any other child, I focused on eating sweets, biscuits and cakes. But looking back I remember other children had leftovers while I could NEVER tolerate seeing food and not eating it. Everything in sight had to be polished off. 

Food was always in abundance in our home as my parents believed that food was love. It was easily accessible. Unlike a lot of families in the 60s and the 70s, I never had to ask permission to eat. Yet my sister and I both hid food to eat later. 

I was never actually hungry but I also could never get enough 

When I ate to the point of bursting I felt drunk on food as if it was alcohol. It anaesthetised my feelings of rage and made me feel better. Of course like any drug, the effects soon wore off and within a matter of minutes, hours or days I would eat addictively again. 

As a very young child, I grew up a normal size with the effects of food addiction not showing on my body until I was about 15years old. I began to feel guilt and shame about my size especially as my hourglass figure took shape. The boys at school would follow me shouting obscenities about my big backside. 

None of this stopped me from eating because I found it impossible to stop. The more abuse and comments from parents, friends, family and the boys at school about my size, the more I turned to food for comfort and escape. Even though the food was no longer a comfort, it had become a habit, an addiction, a craving beyond my control that had to be satisfied. 

Like a cow, I grazed on food all day

As I became an independent working adult, I still needed my favourite binge foods. In indulged in chocolate, hard-boiled sweets, and penny chews.  Filling up on heavy meals like curries, Chinese food, and fish and chips was my normal. I liked anything stodgy to help take away the pain of life and growing up.  Like a cow, I grazed on food all day. Sometimes it was a huge binge but more often it was three very large meals a day with continuous grazing in between.

I marvel now at the quantities of food that I could eat either in one sitting or throughout the hours I was awake. The only time I seemed to stop eating was when I was asleep. Thank goodness I did sleep very well every night.  But who wouldn’t with that amount of food in their stomach?  Addictive eating worked like a heavy sleeping pill for me. I would eat until my stomach was so full all I could do was lie down or pass out to allow it to digest.

The 12 Steps took me from Obesity to a Healthy Weight 

Over the years I joined popular slimming clubs and attended counselling sessions. I am an intelligent woman but I could not use my intellect to stop eating. A number of doctors tried to ‘fat shame’ me. Finally, I met a General Practitioner who suggested that food may be like a drug for me. I walked into my first 12 Step fellowship obese and I have never left. Since then, my life has completely turned around. I’m now a healthy weight, but even more importantly my thinking is no longer obsessed with food.  helped me to accept that addictive eating is an illness. By the grace of a Higher Power, I was able to surrender to the solution to my problem. I accepted I have an ‘abnormal reaction’ to food and that I am physically and mentally different from others who are not addictive eaters. 

In AEA, we help each other to stop eating addictively and to ensure that eating is not replaced by other addictive substances or behaviours.

We usually attend meetings locally, face-to-face wherever possible. There are meetings in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, USA, Australia and New Zealand. In recent times we have more online meetings. Anyone interested in recovering from binge eating, anorexia, bulimia, other forms of addictive eating and compulsive exercise is welcome to attend a meeting of We welcome family, friends and healthcare professionals to come and listen to our stories to hear how we get well from addictive eating.   Our meetings are free to attend, and all our members remain anonymous by using their first names only. 


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