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Windsor woman shares what it's like to live with an eating disorder

According to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre, an estimated one million Canadians meet the diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder. Eating Disorder Awareness Week takes place from February 1 to 7.

'I would feel bad about my body and then it would continue and I would feel bad in other aspects of my life'

Allie Miner, 25, is currently in treatment for bulimia nervosa. (Melissa Nakhavoly/CBC)

Allie Miner was 23 and struggling with depression and anxiety when she turned to strict dieting as a way to manage her emotions.

With stress and the pressure to figure out what career path she wanted to pursue threatening to overwhelm her, eating seemed like something she could control.

"Everything was a struggle for me," explained Miner. "I was always looking for something to solve my problems."

First she turned to veganism and found the weight loss she experienced garnered compliments, which encouraged her to lose more.

"That made me feel good. So I hopped on that train and it just continued until it fell out of control," she said.

When exercise becomes unhealthy

Now 25, Miner said that pressure caused her to develop severe anxiety around food to the point where even her favourite meals were no longer appealing. 

"My weight is how I managed to feel good and feel OK," said Miner.

After some self-reflection, she recognized her extreme dieting and exercise habits were the cause of much of the anxiety in her life. So Miner approached her family doctor who referred her to the Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association (BANA), where she was diagnosed with bulimia nervosa.

"I went to the gym a lot and I would fast. I wouldn't eat. My excuse was 'I'm feeling anxious so I won't eat today,'" said Miner.

Allie Miner was 23 and struggling with depression and anxiety when she turned to strict dieting as a way to manage her emotions. 1:36

She began treatment at BANA in 2016 by seeing a clinician once a week who would help her shift her thoughts about food from negative to positive.

"It was things like emotional and physical hunger," explained Miner, adding "at BANA we say 'fun food' not 'junk food.'"

Miner is now she in recovery and is less anxious around food. She's also working to find the balance between working out and living a happy, healthy life.

"I want to encourage people. I have a lot of aspirations. My education is also in drama. I would love to use drama to help people," said Miner.

While she is doing better, Miner remains in treatment at BANA. She's currently enrolled in body image group therapy which she attends once a week.

BANA helps hundreds

Miner is one of many people in Windsor-Essex who receive treatment from BANA.Officials with the association say approximately 300 people enrol in their therapy program each year and another 600 use their intake line for referrals.

As part of Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018, eating disorder groups across Canada are hosting awareness-raising and educational activities to help dispel myths about eating disorders, while supporting positive self-esteem and body image.

BANA will be at the Devonshire Mall on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3 during mall hours to mark the awareness week.