“I’m 72 and binge eat. Is there hope for me?”

Is time "running out" on your recovery? No! (via flickr: gingertammycat)

I read a new comment this morning that really left me awash in emotion. It was from 72-year-old Carol, and it made me feel sad, hopeful, and grateful all at the same time. Take a read:

I am 72 years old and just realized that I have had an ED all of my life. It started when I was 12 and went on a diet and lost 20 lbs. I married at 18 and always felt my husband did not love me. I started binge eating when I was alone. I have done it occasionaly thru the years. After some years of lots of stress I started binge eating in the last 4 years and it is getting worse. I really feel sick and miserable afterwards and for a couple of days. It finally dawned on me that I have an ED and don’t know what to do about it. I have been a yoyo dieter all of my life. I really don’t know how to eat normal. Is there any hope for me??

First: Yes, yes, yes there’s hope for you, Carol! This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten a question like this from a woman over 50. There are many, many women of your generation who do not realize that they have eating issues until later in life. When you were growing up these things were not a topic of usual conversation. Heck, “binge eating disorder” didn’t even get an official name until 1995, and yo-yo dieting was just seen as a “normal” part of being a woman during the ’50s and ’60s, wasn’t it?

But more and more older women are entering therapy and even residential treatment centers to get help. Check out this recent article from the NY Times about it. Therapy has been key for me, and I would highly recommend seeking some professional help, especially if you want to get a head start on this and start feeling better faster!

I have met many women of a certain age in my support groups who found real sanity and relief through groups and 12-step programs. I also met an amazing woman, Ellen Shuman, at last week’s Binge Eating Disorder Association conference who runs a web site called A Weigh Out and does phone coaching for people who don’t want to or can’t do face-to-face sessions.

Please, HealthyGirl.org readers, join me in telling Carol that there’s hope! xo…Sunny

3 Responses to “I’m 72 and binge eat. Is there hope for me?”

  1. Ellen Shuman says:

    To Carol and everyone else who has lived a lifetime (so far) with this struggle,

    Echoing what Sunny wrote, there is hope and a wonderful life on the other side of this painful issue! I recommend that people begin to explore the role that food, food thoughts, dieting, and weight thoughts are playing in your life. Do you find your thoughts shifting in those directions whenever you’d rather distract from or avoid other thoughts and feelings you’d rather not think about?

    There’s no age limit on recovery. So far, I’ve coached people from age 18 to age 76. (FYI…at http://www.aweighout.com, we offer a free phone seminar for people who’d like to learn more about recovery from emotional and binge eating. Everyone 18 and older is welcome! Younger people are also welcome, with a parent in attendance.)

    Great meeting you at the Binge Eating Disorder Conference, Sunny. I read your book on the flight home. It’s wonderful!!! Thank you so much for writing it!

    Ellen Shuman
    Vice President, Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA)

  2. I’m so glad that you shared this, Sunny… Carol, there is most DEFINITELY hope. I work with women of all ages and have seen people from five to ninety-five recover (and I’m sure a 96-year-old could as well). Recovery takes motivation, support, and courage - things that can be strengthened with age, not diminished.

  3. marlene says:

    I am 76yrs old and have a problem with binge eating till I,m sick. Don’t know if Ive got too much time on my hands or what is causing it. I have been a yoyo dieter since 20yrs old. I like to look nice but am never happy with my weight. I weigh 62kg. I am happy and don’t have any problems. It helps to read of other people my age with the same problem.

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.