A Minute With "Starving Secrets" Host Tracey Gold
When I first heard that Tracey Gold was going to be hosting a new show on Lifetime and I would have the opportunity to interview her, my heart skipped a beat, not at the thought of her celebrity, nor her connection to Kirk Cameron from her Growing Pains days, but rather, because of what we have in common: an adolescence riddled with hospital stays and disordered eating.
At some point, we both had to choose to fight back against something that seemed so much bigger than ourselves, something we didn't have a choice in. "It was my treatment in '92 when I started to scare myself. I was sick and tired of being sick, and I wanted to live life. The fear of getting better all of a sudden wasn't as big as the fear of living with the eating disorder."
Both of us have left behind our days of starvation, counting every calorie and sitting with therapists discussing family life and thought processes toward food, instead trading them for marriage and motherhood. I know for me, the past has changed the way I approach parenting, shaping how I model healthy behavior to my kids, knowing that actions speak louder than words. Still, the more years I put between my time in the hospital and today, the less I feel as though that part of my past defines me.
One thing that Tracey and I agree on is how skewed the perception is of eating disorders. I know as I make my way through life, I find more and more people who have characteristic signs and behaviors that are associated with anorexia or bulimia; however, they aren't as pronounced or paired with others so that the actual classification is there and treatment sought.
With "Starving Secrets," Tracey hopes to reach more than just those suffering with clinical eating disorders. Instead, she hopes to touch the larger group. In her words, " It's not the girl on the red carpet. It's not glamorous. It's isolating. All people have a spectrum of body image issues and insecurity and disordered eating. It's more common than people understand. Even if you haven't been hospitalized, you can relate."
I asked Tracey if her past with eating disorders changed the way she approached food with her children, as I know for me it has made me very apparent that I need to be modeling a healthy relationship with food and teaching my children to enjoy food. "I have four growing boys, and they love to eat. They don't have body image issues, and it is a different thing for boys and girls. In a general way, it's not as prevalent."
We also discussed how important it is to have that family meal together, especially as the kids are entering the different stages in their lives. It's that family time that reinforces healthy behaviors and teaches them to enjoy food and the sociability of food. "I try and eat healthy and cook healthy. I cook with turkey meat, and they eat turkey burgers. We try and sit down for dinner."
Watching my parents' preoccupation with weight and dieting was a defining factor in how I thought of myself and my relationship with food, which is a part of why I find family meals to be so valuable. For Tracey, it was her mother's food issues, "My mom and I had a very open conversation about what her role in my eating disorder was. Mom was bulimic and she learned in school." When those are the attitudes being modeled towards food, it isn't hard to see how falling into an eating disorder could be easy for the young people in the family.
Still, the message is that there is hope, hope for a normal life, one not preoccupied with thoughts of restricting and body image distortions. "I feel that I am recovered, and I feel that it's important to live that way. I understand the truth that my eating disorder is my Achilles' heel, and I need to be aware of it. I am a woman in today's society. It doesn't control my day. It doesn't define who I am. I allow myself to indulge when I want to. I feel good."
Tune in to watch Starving Secrets with Tracey Gold on Lifetime, Fridays at 11P/10C. Watch a preview of Epsiode 3: