How an ADD medication played a role in my eating disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a common diagnosis, and I was one of the 4.4% of adults diagnosed.

Now, my ADD wasn’t diagnosed at the beginning of my eating disorder, but actually 5 or so years into it.

I went to my nurse practitioner and explained how I was having difficulty concentrating in my college classes, she had me fill out a questionnaire, and just like that, I was diagnosed with ADD.

I was prescribed a stimulant, Vyvanse, and started at the low dose and eventually worked my way up to the highest prescribed dosage.

I stayed on the highest dosage for about 3-5 years. I chose to stop when I was no longer in college and didn’t ‘need’ it anymore.

Podcast: ADD medication misuse and eating disorders

Now, did I actually have ADD? That’s a good question. Since most of my thoughts during that time consisted of food, food, hating on my body, and more food…I’m not surprised that I had a hard time concentrating on schoolwork.

Also, not eating enough (under nourishment) can play a major role in lack of concentration. Not eating enough will decrease your overall blood sugar which can show itself as having difficulty concentrating.

I wanted to share my story not to dismiss those individuals who actually are struggling with ADD/ADHD but to raise attention to the ones who are suffering from it as a symptom of their eating disorder and might abuse the ‘side effects’ of the medications used to treat it.

The major side effect that I chose to embrace was the increase in metabolism. It fueled my eating disorder’s fear of weight gain in the sense that I could ‘eat whatever I wanted’ without the repercussion of gaining weight.

For medical professionals, it can be hard to dive deeper and notice the subtle cues, especially if the person struggling with an eating disorder is being secretive and not being truthful about their relationship with food and with their body.

Here are common symptom to look out for:
(this is both for medical professionals, parents, family, friends…)
Persistent behaviors interfering with weight gain
-Often ‘not’ hungry
-Plays with food instead of eating
-Needs to prepare own food
-Routinely not eating in presence of others
-Excessive exercising

Concerns about eating and weight
-Often wearing baggy clothes
-Overly concerned about weight
-Constant criticism of self and/or body image
-Intense fear of weight gain or becoming fat
-Sudden interest in dieting
-Often commenting negatively on one’s appearance

Disordered eating behaviors
-Eating more rapidly than normal
-Eating large amounts when not hungry
-Eating until uncomfortably full
-Skipping meals
-Eating very small amounts
-Suddenly a picky eater
-Feeling disgusted, guilty, or shameful after eating

If you want to find out more about my Vyvanse story you can listen to my recent guest spot on the Podcast- Liveng Proof by the amazing Engrid Latina. Her podcast is all about personal growth, mental and emotional well being, intuitive living, and claiming your power, so I was very excited to talk with her and share my story.

In that episode we talk about my story with Vyvanse and how it played into my eating disorder, discussed the less glamorous side of recovery, the power of baby steps to overcome fears, and more related topics about eating disorder recovery. You can find the episode HERE.

I am always available to ask questions and to pick my brain if you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, disordered eating, food obsession, over exercising, and/or poor body image. You can reach me by email at katie@joyfulbeets.com.

Also, don’t forget to like and follow my blog so you don’t miss out on my future posts!

💜 Katie
Certified Holistic Health Coach
Eating Disorder Recovery Coach


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