How I Combated Bulimia

Nazia Khatun opens up about the eating disorder she suffered from as a teenager

Posted: 05.01.15

Growing up, our body changes whether we are male or female and whether we like it or hate it. It is the art of nature. With this comes the awakening of our consciousness. Young people, especially teenagers become more aware of what their body looks like. Many embrace this change and many want to make more changes such as their height, weight and body image. Some do this the healthy way through exercise and healthy eating and some do this the dangerous way by developing eating disorders.

Nazia Khatun was one of these young teenagers who disliked her appearance but decided it was time to start making changes at the age of seventeen. Unfortunately it was not the right way for a healthy diet. Nazia is now a grown woman who takes pride in her appearance, walks with a strut and has confidence in herself. In this special interview Nazia opens up to Salma Razia Khatun about the eating disorder she suffered from as a teenager, how and why she became bulimic and her advice for young people should do now for a healthy looking body. 

How old where you when you discovered that you were suffering from Bulimia?
It came up very gradually when I was at college, about the age of 17 years old. I was very chubby and didn’t like my appearance nor my looks

Tell me a little but about your history. What were your eating habits like before you starting self inducing vomiting?
I used to eat anything and everything. Breakfast going to school consisted of fizzy drinks, chocolate bars, crisps. Break time at school I clearly remember I would eat more than the other girls, one donut was never enough. Lunchtime was piled with pizza, pasta, and whatever was available that day for school dinners. The odd times if I had food outside for lunch it will consist of chicken and chips or greasy kebabs. By 6pm without a doubt I will be heading off to the corner shop to get at least two bars of chocolates, more crisps and fizzy drinks. It was a ritual and took years to stop. 

What led you to being bulimic?
I went to a girl’s only school and felt ok being fat, chubby; I actually never paid any attention to my shape or size. I was also very good at sports and got popular quickly through that, so it felt like I was already accepted. We wore a school uniform so the baggy clothes hid me away from the extra pounds. By the time I entered college, it was a different experience. 

I saw skinny girls everywhere, who looked pretty, their make-up was nicely done, and they wore nice jeans and tops and then there was me who was in a cap, track suit bottoms and again a baggy hoody. Of course naturally I felt uncomfortable as I was a teenager and at that time hormones are firing away. I didn’t get any attention from the boys like the other pretty girls did and a part of me felt very out of place and not attractive. The more unattractive I felt the baggier the jumpers got and every shopping trip consisted of purchasing a cap to hide my chubby cheeks. In essence I wanted to be thin, thin to me meant being attractive and I will get noticed. How wrong was I back then as it lead to a whole load of pitfalls as I grew up.

How did you come to know about bulimia and the effects of it?
Surprisingly enough one of my good friends was a male at this period of my life. I clearly remember him telling me he used to purge to lose weight. As he explained to me after you eat, you just make yourself sick. I asked how and he replied by sticking your finger down your throat. At first I thought this was stupid, but weirdly enough I remember it stayed in my thoughts 

Why did you think this was a good way of losing weight?
I didn’t know any better actually. I didn’t know anything about healthy eating. I saw everyone eating junk all the time. Some were gifted not to put on any weight, after school sports isn’t on the curriculum so I missed that side of myself too. And it was difficult to sign up to afterhours sports sessions as they were mixed genders with fit people. I didn’t know about gyms and stuff back then, so it was a weird bizarre time in my head. It also didn’t help living with so many sisters, who were slim and petite.

What changes did you see from before you were bulimic to during being bulimic?
Before I was a happy child growing up. I had no hesitation to eat anything and everything. In fact my parents used to tell me to control my portion sizes and not to eat too much as they were concerned of my size at the time of my age. Of course this gets to you a little but when relatives used to visit and they tell me I was “healthy” it used to play on my head. All of my cousins were of decent size and shape. When you don’t know what normal is you carry on with life as it is. I was very outgoing and always in people’s faces. 

After I admit I became so self obsessed. The more I looked in mirrors the more hate I found for myself. I loathed my chubby face, fat body, I hated everything about myself. I was very anti social and grumpy all the time. There was a time where my period stopped and I was probably weighing around seven stones. I was so obsessed with the weighing scales both at home and an electronic one in Boots that used to give me a measurement of everything in one go.

My relationship with my family was horrible as I was arguing with everyone on a daily basis. I hated anyone being around me, constantly tired and hungry but self purging became so addictive it was unreal. There be days I wouldn’t eat anything, then I will eat, maybe a chocolate bar and as soon as I went home I would go straight into the bathroom.

By now my parents went from the opposite of telling me not to eat too much to trying to force food down me, but they knew too well what I was doing. The same cousins that told me I was too healthy noticed my weight loss and they would praise me of course not knowing how I lost all the weight.

What made you finally stop self inducing vomiting?
Growing up I had to be a role model to five other sisters, all of them knew I had an eating disorder. At the time my youngest sister was about six years old and I was so embarrassed when once she ran back into the living room to tell my family I had been sick when they all thought I had stopped. That made me think of what a bad example I was setting for someone of that age.

But more significantly it was a day where I ate fish and chips and laid down on the sofa. Without even having to even self induce I started to vomit, with it I noticed blood. That was the day I thought to myself this had gone too far. I had been self inducing for almost two years in secret, that was definitely a wake -up call. It came to a point where I also noticed that even though I was slim and was a size 10 instead of a size 14, I wasn’t getting any opposite sex attention. So it was a lot to do with the mind and how I perceived myself.

However I went from one addiction to another. When I discovered the gym I became self obsessed with that and did everything wrong. I would train for hours on end and knew absolutely nothing about exercising other than what I learnt from magazines. I could literally spend 1.5 hours on cardio then 1.5 hours on weights, a total of three hours per day. Some days on an empty stomach. I realised even when I had a six pack and was a perfect size I still felt I was fat in my head. My obsession with calories and food was on an extreme level. This led to awful sciatic nerve damage and a very weak back which still plays up till this day.

How would you describe yourself now from when you were a youngster? 
Now I accept myself so much more. I had to learn about self love a lot and the power of self love and how it contributed to the rest of my life. So even though I don’t have the six pack and do not train as mad as I used before, I find myself more confident than ever before. As a coach now I am more clued up how to exercise properly and how to eat properly to main optic health. I used my body as a form of control in the wrong way. 

I am not perfect overall and every day we challenge ourselves to become the best versions of ourselves, and with that comes a lot power and wisdom knowing I had the ability to change and manifest a different mindset to my general well being and health. I haven’t been sick in over three years now and that comes with the knowledge of how to look after myself.

Our health is something we all take for granted until something happens to us. I run my own business so my lifestyle is very different to the average 9-5 worker. I tend to lead a very balanced lifestyle. Have enough time for family, friends, adventure, love, and mastered the art of “Me time” Generally I find when my health is at peak then all areas of my life heighten.

Tell me what’s different about your confidence now?
There are times when my confidence have been at its best especially during my boxing days, and its only now at the age of 31 I fully accept my body and am able to thank it for everything I had put it through. Inner confidence is very under rated, and now I have more self belief and do not follow what the media throws at me. I also coach my clients how to make the most of whom they are right now at the present time, I use tools and techniques to pull out their inner confidence and it is so rewarding when I finish with each client and how much they change during the process.

Do you have any words of wisdom and tips for the young people who want to get slimmer now?
Avoid reading magazines; they do not create a reality of health and fitness. You will never be able to create a celebrity hour glass figure or waist thin body as they are all photo shopped! Another key thing to remember is that no two people will ever be the same so the diet plans and workouts outlined in magazines do not work for everybody. If they were so successful we would see all females walking around with the same body shape and if they were realistic plans, no one would fall off the band wagon. So listen to your body. Looking good, feeling healthy and being fit should never ever be a chore nor create disorders in any shape and form. If one don’t look after their own body, who will? In the end, our body is just a vessel that houses our soul. We'll have to answer for that vessel when we die. You are already beautiful enough, radiant enough, smart enough so be your own trend setter and seek advice before dieting and exercising.

Nazia Khatun is involved in running workshops for young females in schools and sixth form colleges in regards to eating disorders and self-image which gives them a first-hand insight. She also teaches them how to avoid it or where to seek help. If you are interested please contact her directly via Fitness Reborn.

Find out more about journalist Salma on her blog.

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