How Halloween Helped Me Realize I Had an Eating Disorder 

Updated: Feb 19

An instant photo taken by a trick-or-treater more than 15 years ago showed me the scary side of being too skinny.

Cupcake decorations with one medium orange pumpkin to the left and one small orange pumpkin to the right indoors
There's room for pumpkins and cupcakes in a healthy eating plan.

On a cold, windy Halloween 14 years ago, I was at my aunt’s house. She only had one trick-or-treater that day. I answered the door, and a girl with an instant camera asked if she could take my picture. I gave her a bag of chips; she gave me the photo. I set the photo on a desk to develop, not thinking much of it. About half an hour later, I looked at the image staring back at me.

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The picture showed a young woman with sunken cheeks, swimming in size zero jeans and an extra small shirt. Was that me? I thought.

I looked extremely skinny—a very unhealthy kind of skinny. Thoughts from the months leading up to that Halloween crept into my mind—how I was always striving for perfection, how I used to exercise constantly, how I would meticulously plan every calorie I ate.

Those were some deep, dark, scary days.

I knew enough about disordered eating and body image to know that all of things I was doing were characteristics of an eating disorder. This photo helped me solidify that I did indeed have an eating disorder. How long could I keep going? Could I hide it? Could I get better? I wondered.

I did eventually overcome an undiagnosed eating disorder. Read my award-winning book 108 Yoga and Self-Care Practices for Busy Mamas (MSI Press, 2019) to learn about my turning point and how I brought myself back to health.

Every Halloween, I think about that picture and how far I have advanced my understanding of healthy eating and body image.

Most importantly, I learned that skinny does not equal healthy. Healthy equals healthy. Today, instead of striving to be skinny, my aim is to be healthy.

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