I told myself binge eating wasn’t a “real” eating disorder

Juliane Bergmann
8 min readFeb 8, 2022
I believed this. Photo by Antonio Quagliata from Pexels

It’s somebody’s birthday and I’ve baked a cheesecake I’m very proud of. I’m in my early teens, maybe 13 and I’m on a diet. During our traditional birthday coffee and cake celebration, I’ve proudly refused to eat a piece of the cake I baked because I’m trying to lose weight. My family members ask me to have a piece multiple times. The more they ask, the more I refuse, the more righteous I feel. I’m beyond this temptation. I have an iron will.

Then I carry the leftover cake into the kitchen, listen to my family talk in the other room and inhale an entire piece of cake in less than a minute, looking over my shoulder the entire time.

One of my first memories of my dad is him poking me in the stomach while tucking me in, commenting on my jiggly belly. I think I was in Kindergarten. I started my first diet at 10 or 11. Trennkost was all the rage in Germany, which prohibited dieters from combining proteins with carbs during meals. I had no idea and didn’t give a shit if it was healthy or nutritionally sound. I just hoped it would help me lose weight. I remember a female family member having a talk with me upon my mother’s prodding. But that family member, like my own mother, was an anorexic so while I couldn’t put my finger on it then, it felt disingenuous.

I don’t recall my mother ever talking to me about healthy eating. However, she did frequently talk about how she was too fat when she was objectively underweight and much smaller than me. She did go in and out of phases where she exclusively cooked vegetarian or only bought snacks for us from the organic food store, but she always kept a stash of sugary treats in the pantry. I would often find her hiding in there, secretly eating chocolate while giving us the stale hippie fruit leather.

Aside from her sugar binges, she lived off of coffee, alcohol, and cigarettes. That is to say, I rarely saw her eating real food or regular meals. She seemed to worry less about how the alcohol affected her mentally than the beer making her too fat. In an old letter to my dad when she was 19, she listed how much she’d been exercising to balance out her excessive drinking because she knew “how much he hated fat women.”

Juliane Bergmann

Want to get your story published but don't know how to pitch editors? Grab my free pitch template and get your first byline: https://tinyurl.com/28dtcf22