Secret Diet – A Woman’s Constant Battle With Food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan Sanbourne struggles to eat a simple meal of yogurt. The 89 pound woman suffers from a combination of eating disorders - anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Visits to her psychiatrist are always a confusing and painful experience.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan watches as her doctor weighs he before a medical check-up.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Her doctor scrutinizes her small frame and complaints over stomach cramps.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan always cooks for her family. But she has not joined them for a meal in years. She always sits away from the table.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan's husband gestures toward the photographer during the family dinner.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan often became irrational during her periods of self-starvation.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

With hunger at its peak Susan shops at a local store for food that will satisfy her cravings.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan removes a pizza and other foods from her trunk. She eats in a remote location.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan starts her binge eating session. It will take several hours to satisfy her hunger.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan eats ravenously inside her car.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan during her first of several breaks during her eating binge.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan chugs water to keep herself hydrated.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

The passenger seat becomes a set table of junk foods.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Exhaustion sets in after several hours of binge eating.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan drinks Ipecac once her hunger is satisfied that will induce vomiting.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

The remains of her eating binge.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Several episodes of vomiting ensue. Once her hunger is satisfied she feels the need to purge her system of the food.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

The self-induced vomiting episodes take nearly an hour to pass.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan cleans up in the snow preparing her return home.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Several days after her binge her depleted body suffers from the effects of her eating disorders.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Medical personnel are called to her home as Susan becomes unresponsive.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan is taken to the hospital during the early morning hours.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan is fed intravenously to replenish her dehydrated body.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan awakens at the hospital several hours later hydrated and responsive.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan looks with displeasure over the food the doctors want her to eat.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan ignores the food and becomes defiant over the orders to eat food.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan is comforted by her son after returning from the hospital.

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Secret Diet / A woman's constant battle with food

Susan gazes at herself in a mirror checking for any weight gain that is visible through her own eyes.

Secret Diet - A Woman's Constant Battle With Food

Photography by Brian Plonka

It’s about 10 a.m. when the sun’s rays filters through the peach-colored curtains in Susan Sanbourne’s Kezar Falls, Maine home. Susan gazes at the mirror image of her 34-year-old 89-pound body with hypnotic displeasure. “I need to lose a couple of more pounds around the waist,” she says, lifting the top of a white, cotton night-gown to reveal ribs that carve a staircase from her stomach to her chest. “I want to look good for the summer.”

Sanbourne is on a diet. A deadly diet. She suffers from a combination of eating disorders - anorexia nervosa and bulimia. They combine the intense fear of going weight with episodes of binge eating and self-induced vomiting.

There is no normal day for Susan. From the time she wakes to the her struggle to sleep, she is ruled by thoughts of food. “Food,” she says, “is the enemy. A couple of years ago, me and four girls started working out at a health club in Limington; we were all going to lose weight. I was 150 -155 pounds, but I was big.”

 

Susan lost more weight than her friends. But her weight loss was not quick enough to satisfy her appetite for perfection. She lived on grapefruit juice, vitamins and amino pills, but the intense hunger took a toll. “I started eating,” she says. “Then I’d throw it up.”

Susan was secretive about her behavior. “I’d eat with my family, then go to the bathroom to throw it up. The family caught on, so I started bingeing in the car.”

“I’m obsessed with being thin,” she says. “I see these fat hogs walking around. I’m fearful I will look like that.”

SHARE

LICENSE THIS STORY

Images from this story may be licensed for editorial or educational use by publications and educators. Click on the link below to learn more.

VIEW ALL IMAGES FROM THIS STORY

There are usually more images available from this story than are presented here. Click on the link below to view the entire collection.