Overcoming Eating Disorders

An Interview with Anna Sperlich

Anna Sperlich overcame her own eating disorders and now helps other women do the same by changing their relationships to themselves.

This article highlights the journey of Anna Sperlich with binge eating disorder and eating disorder not otherwise specified. She now helps other women overcome the struggles she has experienced and shares some of her best advice.

Please note that this interview does not constitute professional medical or psychological advice.

Anna's development of her eating disorder

Anna notes that throughout her life she struggled to be something more than she was in order to belong and be loved.

She figured as a teenager that only if she was pretty and slim enough would she attract a boyfriend, and it was then that she started to become mindful of food and her appearance.

At age nineteen when she moved from Germany to England, her eating disorder really took form. She would hit the gym every day for hours and obsessively control what she ate to avoid the pain and deep loneliness that she was feeling as a young woman in a new country. She lost weight, developed symptoms of anorexia nervosa, and this helped her feel good, in control and superior.

To stay alive, she needed to eat. "And even just a bite of an apple turned into a binge," and she binged on whatever she could. She stole, hid and threw away food to protect herself from binging, but would often wind up getting it back out and eating it anyway. 

Food was her pain relief when her brother died of a heroin overdose when she was twenty-three years old.

"It anesthetized me and wrapped me up in cotton wool instead of feeling the massive sense of loss and guilt."

The impact that Anna's eating disorder had on her life

Anna states that the impact that her eating disorder had on her life was enormous. It crashed her confidence, robbed her of a relationship with herself, and kept her from receiving love as she doubted that anyone could possibly love another with such disordered eating.

She felt isolated, shameful and disgusted with herself.

Meanwhile, she was studying addiction psychology (ironically), and her life looked great on the outside. "Inside, I was slowly dying." She started to self-harm to punish herself for being unable to handle her eating disorder and be the "woman, partner, therapist and eventual mom I wanted to be."

She went through years of therapy, self-help groups and loads of personal development. She recognized that "the key to my recovery was when I learned that my eating behavior is not a reflection of who I am, but of the relationship that I have with myself."

When she started transforming her relationship with herself and began to heal the mistaken beliefs she had about herself, she started creating a new relationship with food. As a result, she has lived many years binge free, no longer turns to food for emotional comfort, and has learned new ways of managing her internal world.

The hardest part of having an eating disorder

The hardest part of having an eating disorder was the guilt and shame that Anna felt after a binge.

She notes that the self-disgust, the horrific names she would call herself and the self-harm she would induce was mental and physical torture.

The most helpful aspect of Anna's recovery

Anna notes that the most helpful part of her recovery has been vulnerability, connections, letting herself be seen in her struggle and experiencing love even in her darkest, most difficult moments.

Where Anna is today

After healing from her own eating disorder, Anna is coaching women on how to break free from eating disorders to create a loving and nurturing relationship with food, their bodies and themselves so that they can thrive.

Her passion lies in inspiring women to ignite their own spark again. She is determined to use her personal struggle for a greater good and to empower women to take back their light and let it shine, despite or because of their food struggles.

Anna's advice to someone with an eating disorder

Get help. You cannot fix this by yourself. Even with hundreds of diets or self-help books, you cannot be your own therapist or healer. She states that "in order to change the way you think, feel and act around food, you need to have someone there to support you, challenge your thought processes, teach you new tools, and love you in the middle of it."

"Open up about your struggle to someone who has earned your trust and allow yourself to be seen in your vulnerability and your humanness. It is exactly what made the all the difference in my own healing journey."

About Anna

Anna Sperlich, M.Sc. is an addiction psychologist and food freedom coach specializing in teaching women how to release their food struggles and make peace with their food, their bodies and with themselves. She is mother of two, a partner for life, a raw dessert fanatic and a playground renegade. Find out more about Anna and how to connect with her here: www.annasperlich.com

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