starving secrets

Last night, on Lifetime, a new show premiered: Starving Secrets with Tracy Gold. I was hesitant to watch it, afraid that it was going to be triggering. If you had seen the show on E!,  What’s Eating You, I found it very triggering. I wasn’t a big fan of the way it was set up. But for some reason, I decided to watch this new show.

First up, here’s a little background on Tracy Gold. If you ever watched Growing Pains, you would know that she was Carol. At age 19, she was put on a diet by the directors. From that point on, she was on a mission to lose weight, on a mission to be perfect. At some points, she was on the edge of death. But Tracy was able to pull through. As she puts it, “I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m recovered.” Now, she is helping those struggling with an eating disorder.

I watched the show, not knowing what to expect. At points, I felt triggered but then Tracy and the other therapists talked about how much their habits are hurting them. I was really happy in the beginning of the episode because no weights were told. Then partly through the episode, some weights were revealed. I understand why they said those numbers, but at the same time, I felt they could have done without.

In this episode, there were two girls: Rivka (anorexia) and Melissa (bulimia).


Rivka has been overcome with anorexia for the past 14 years of her life. She has been in and out of recovery 9 times. Eating only 500 calories a day and walking 6 hours a day, she calls to Tracy as a final cry. She was flown to Los Angeles and given outpatient treatment. Rivka struggled throughout the entire episode, hiding the fact that she was secretly walking. After 180 days in outpatient, she decided to take the next step and go into inpatient. She was able to graduate and is a lot happier now. Seeing pictures of her after, she looks so much happier and healthier. As her friend said before, “She looked like death.” Now, she looks 100 times happier. When Tracy asked her how her body image was, she said, “I still struggle with it. But everything around me is so much better, that it’s worth it.”


At age 14, Melissa was hospitalized for anorexia. Throughout her entire life, she has dealt with severe self esteem issues. Not wanting to face the problems in her life, she turned to bulimia. Being 22 and in severe debt, she wanted help in order to maintain a job and friendships. After 108 days in treatment, Melissa was able to graduate with some new friends. She spent those 108 days without purging a single time. 8 months later, and she still hasn’t purged. As of now, her goal is to move back with her family in New Jersey and go back to school. (The exercise psychologist that Melissa went to was the same one that I went to. She was very helpful.)

This showed how much happier life can be without an eating disorder. During the ED, Rivka and Melissa were completely miserable. Now, they have dreams and hopes to go on and do better things with their lives.

As of right now, I have mixed feelings about ED shows being on TV. For those not affected by an ED, it can be very eye-opening and educational. But at the same time, it can cause those with an ED to become triggered. Much of what is learned about eating disorders is from TV. So if a girl saw this show, they would think to starting purging to help lose “just 5 pounds.” Or if somebody in recovery were to watch this show, they may fall back into their old habits.

So I’m not sure what to think about this show yet. I’m on the fence.

What do you think? Should shows about eating disorders be on TV?


9 thoughts on “starving secrets

  1. I saw that on last night too. I couldn’t bring myself to watch more than 20 minutes of it though because it was really triggering for me as well. I’m SO glad the girls are healthy now and I love what tracey gold is doing, but watching them struggle brought back some bad memories 😦 I’m still on the fence about it too.

  2. I really dislike things that document recoveries.. I’ve always felt that recovery should be something that’s private. I’m glad that someone’s helping them, but I wish they didn’t have to make a show about it. As you said, it could be triggering, and it can give people ideas.. Meh. Dislike.

  3. Hmm I didn’t watch – nor do I plan to, to be honest, I’m kind of not in a good place to do that at the moment – but I too have mixed feelings on the idea. On the one hand, I’m sure these shows are incredibly triggering. Which is why I’m making the executive decision for my own mental health not to watch it. I think depending on the point you are in recovery, girls are able to make good decisions for themselve. Some of us can say “hmm, sounds interesting but I think it’s going to be triggering. I’ll stay away” but some can’t do that yet. On the other hand, eating disorders are kind of a scary topic to the rest of the world, people make jokes about them because they’re just not well understood and not talked about. I am a huge believer that that needs to change! We need to talk about this! So…it has to be done somehow, idk if tv shows are the way though.

  4. I think I’ve gotten far enough away from my eating disorder that I could handle watching it and probably find it interesting, but at the same time my bigger fear would be that it opens this world up to so many young girls that will see that starving works and does make you skinny, regardless of the awful psychological and physiological impacts. If they are going to air these, I hope that it creates more awareness about just how bad they are and prevents them more. I know a lot of people who use the term “anorexic” so nonchalantly, but they have no idea what it’s like.

  5. It sounds really interesting, but I’m really skeptical of how they will portray the people and the treatment. I’d have to watch it myself but in the past I’ve seen show portray eating disorders as something people just get because of the media and forget the mental aspect completely. It makes them look self-centered and vain the whole time. Also, it can be helpful to an extent to people recovering but recovery isn’t the same for everyone. It sounds interesting but I don’t know about it and I’m also not a postive place to see it yet.

  6. I find these type of shows triggering too. But as to whether or not they should be on air is difficult. I personally wouldn’t watch it partly because having suffered from an ed it’s far too easy to regress and fall back into old habits whilst watching. But on the other hand I think it will be an eye opener for those not suffering and who have family members who are suffering from an ed. It would others a glimpse into the world of ed’s and what goes through their head.

  7. I find it difficult to decide how I feel about them – like you say they can be very educational and eye-opening to those who do not really understand eating disorders, but at the same time they can be extremely triggering for people who suffer with eating disorders themselves. My biggest issue with them is actually that young girls who are suffering from poor self-esteem, body issues etc can watch programs like that and get tips from what they are watching. It’s a complicated issue really! I do watch them sometimes but often I do find them a bit triggering and try to avoid them.

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