It shouldn’t be news that eating disorders affect women in middle age. Certainly it will come as no surprise to the many women in their forties, fifties and older who face a daily struggle with food, weight and body issues.
Then again, a high proportion of these women will have been suffering in silence, afraid of owning up to an illness still dismissed by many as an adolescent phase. Hopefully a recent study led by Dr Nadia Micali, suggesting that over 3% of women in their 40s and 50s could have an eating disorder, will make older sufferers feel less alone.
There’s stigma attached to any mental health issue, but there’s something especially embarrassing about having an eating disorder on the wrong side of forty. I first became ill in 1987. I’m now 41 and sometimes feel like the mental health version of mutton dressed as lamb. I should have left anorexia and bulimia behind, along with wet look hair gel, Sweet Valley High novels and cerise pixie boots. Yet here I am, still judging each day on the basis of whether or not I manage to get through it without a binge.