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Raina One Year Later

Posted by

Jan 09, 2017

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player or iTunes/Podcasts app. (And please subscribe!)

A year ago we did a show where we spoke with a young woman we called Raina who felt she was on the verge of developing an eating disorder. That show also included an interview with comedian Margaret Cho, who's struggled with eating disorders much of her life.

This week Dan speaks with Raina again to get an update on how she’s doing a year later. But first, we’re replaying the original episode.

Here's the email from Raina (not her real name) that immediately got our attention:

Hi Dan,

[...] Here's the deal: I'm a teenage girl [...] and have recently developed some unhealthily sparse eating practices/scary attitudes about food. I was wondering if you might consider ever doing an episode that explored eating disorders, especially from a recovered persons point of view.

[...] Shame and fear of food is something that just permeates teenage girlhood...I know more anorexic/bulimic/ambiguous-other girls than one person should know in an entire lifetime, and although I don't have a full-blown eating disorder myself yet, I can see myself kind of hovering around that doorway.

I would love to hear your take on this phenomenon, because your shows are hilarious and heartwarming and celebrate food.



Enter Margaret Cho.


Margaret joins Dan to share her experiences recovering from the disease with Raina.

"Eating disorders are terminal diseases. For me, it’s a cancer," she says. "I go into remission for a time and then something comes up -- like thigh gap -- and it throws me back into this disease."

When Margaret was a young comedian, she used alcohol and drugs to mask her hunger. Later on she resorted to other methods of controlling her weight:

"It’s a very secretive disease," Margaret says. "You do weird sh*t. I would get a whole loaf of bread and chew it and then spit it out into the toilet. Or I would go for weeks with only eating persimmons."

Margaret doesn't hide the role Hollywood played in the onset of her disease. Back in 1994 she was hired to star (as herself) in the first network sitcom about an Asian-American family. But network executives told her she needed to lose weight to play herself.

She starved herself so severely that her kidneys failed.

"I wanted the job so bad. I thought…if I don’t lose this weight I won’t be able to [be on TV]," Margaret says. "That ruined me, it ruined my life."

Listen in to the original episode to hear Margaret's advice for Raina -- and other young people struggling with eating issues. And then listen to our update on Raina where she discusses life at college, her relationship with her parents, what she's eating these days, and her hopes for the next year.

If you or someone you know are affected by an eating disorder, you can get more information from the National Eating Disorders Association online or by calling their helpline: 800-931-2237.

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player or iTunes/Podcasts app. (And please subscribe!)

Connect with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook!

Music in this episode from Black Label Music:

- "Third Try" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt

- "Quiet Horizon" by Daniel Jensen

- "Gravel and Dirt" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt

- "I Still Can't Believe" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt

Photos: Todd V. Wolfson (courtesy of Margaret Cho); Mary Taylor (courtesy of Margaret Cho); FlickrCC/Charlotte AstridFlickrCC/Eliza Adam; FlickrCC/Santiago Alvarez

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