In 2019, Annie Windley, a young woman from Derbyshire, East Midlands, suffered from life-threatening anorexia which left her barely able to stand. After surviving on a meager diet of only one piece of toast and jam per day for five years, her weight plummeted to just 63.93 pounds.
Her saving grace while battling anorexia? Chocolate.
Despite being hospitalized five times due to her nutrition-starved body, the 21-year-old claims that she was ultimately able to conquer her anorexia thanks to chocolate. Annie overcame her disorder by indulging in a single Lindt Lindor that she had longed for one evening. Surprisingly, she didn’t gain any weight after eating it, which helped alleviate her fears about eating. Over time, she gradually regained her normal eating habits and conquered her anorexia.
After battling the disorder for years, 21-year-old Annie, who currently weighs 99 pounds, has spoken publicly about her experience. Her anorexia began at age 15 when she would meticulously count calories before eating. Avoiding carbohydrates, meat, and dairy in order to maintain her slim figure. The sight of a plate of lasagne in the same room would even cause her to sweat and shake.
Overcoming the fear of eating is daunting
“It was crazy to think by eating one part of chocolate I’d instantly gain weight. But that day was when I realized eating was not as frightening as I’d made it out to be. I used to refuse to eat meals. If you put lasagne in front of me I would physically shake, swear and become agitated. I could not be in the same room as food.” She said.
“Something so small was a big deal to me. I could not be near food. If I was going to eat I’d have toast with jam or low-fat ready meals to avoid gaining any weight. It got so bad, one time I was sectioned I would scream and bang my head on the wall. I just wanted to leave and not be around food.” She continued.
Annie went on. “I was even told I was at risk of a heart attack because I was so small. I could barely stand up without blacking out. Looking back at the pictures I took, I was scary to look at but I just wanted to be smaller and smaller each day.”
Her battle with anorexia was first unearthed in 2012
In 2012, Annie was diagnosed with anorexia as a result of her dieting. She attended Monkton Combe boarding school in Bath, UK. Which is where she experienced bullying from her peers about her weight and had a strained relationship with her parents.
Despite managing to complete her GCSEs, her weight loss affected her academic performance and forced her to withdraw from her sports teams. Instead, school nurses closely monitored her health due to growing concerns about her well-being. “I used to be very active, I was involved in athletics, hockey, tennis, javelin, and netball, I absolutely loved it.” She said.
“Once I started to lose a lot of weight the nurses got so concerned I got pulled off the teams because I didn’t have any more weight to physically lose. I started to diet slowly and people would say I looked great when I first started so I just kept dieting. My weight was the only thing I had control over.” She went on.
“When things were bad at home I lost more weight and I just lost a lot of weight then I started getting bullied at school for being so thin. My granddad would say eat a chocolate cake and you’ll be out of there in no time but it’s hard to explain just what you’re going through. I was not looking up to anyone or anything. I was doing it purely for myself because I just wanted to be smaller.” Said Annie, looking back.
The road to recovery is paved with struggles for even the bravest
Although it hasn’t been an easy journey, Annie is determined to lead a normal life as much as possible while on the road to recovery. In October 2017, she decided to confront her eating disorder and began exercising again while also incorporating regular healthy and balanced meals into her routine.
After finishing school, she returned to Derbyshire where she received support from her uncle who aided her in overcoming her fear of weight gain. She adjusted her diet and now enjoys nutritious meals such as two crumpets and a cup of tea for breakfast. Additional options like smashed avocado on toast with hummus, a poached egg, and cherry tomatoes, or a pasta salad or jacket potato with tuna and salad for lunch.
Annie’s snack of choice is a protein bar. And for dinner, she enjoys meals such as salmon with potatoes and vegetables, chicken risotto, or sweet chili noodles. Looking back, Annie expresses regret for not seeking help earlier, as it has affected her education and prevented her from experiencing opportunities to travel the world.
Annie’s word of advice to those who are too afraid to speak up
“I wish I could tell my younger self to stop, it makes me sad thinking how much time I have wasted. I left school with 5As and 5*s, I was very smart but I haven’t been able to go to college or university, trying to get back into education is proving very difficult.” She said.
“I feel better now, however, it’s something that does affect me mentally. I have a boyfriend and new friends now who have helped me so I am not as lonely as I used to be. People think it’s about attention seeking but it’s not, it’s hard to explain what you’re going through to someone who does not understand.” Annie finished off.
Keep Reading: Woman With Bone Disorder Shares Selfie Everyday For a Year
- “Former anorexic who could barely stand after plummeting to just over FOUR STONE claims a single ball of Lindor chocolate was the key to her recovery.” Daily Mail UK. Martha Cliff. January 29, 2019
- “INSTA-SHAME Instagram ‘fuelled’ my anorexia, I just ate 20 calories a day after trawling through ‘graphic pictures of skin & bones’” The Sun. Martha Cliff. October 12, 2022.