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Lowcountry woman talks about surviving an eating disorder

By Gregory Woodsgwoods@abcnews4.com{}

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- It's estimated that more than 30 million people across the country suffer from some type of eating disorder. The National Eating Disorder Association sponsored a walk on Saturday to spread awareness about a topic they say isn't often discussed.

"Having an eating disorder is a personal problem. You begin to block everyone out and start living in your own world," said Steph Platt.

Platt was one of dozens of people who attended the walk, but for Platt the event is personal.

The 44-year-old woman says she's always had an eating problem, but six years ago she stopped eating solid foods for two years and put herself on a liquid diet.

"I suddenly became obsessed with drinking Ensure. I was drinking two Ensure a day If I was lucky. They're 250 calories a piece, and 50 calories of fat so I was in-taking about 500 calories at my worst," said Platt.

The mother of two says within months she lost more than 60 pounds.

"After that, bulimia set in on top of the anorexia so every time I ate I felt guilty so then I would purge," said Platt.

A few years ago Plat tried to seek help but problems with insurance stood in the way.

"When you are sick as you are with an eating disorder, to fight insurance along the way and to battle all of that while you're trying to get better -- it's not right," said Platt.

It's stories like Platts, that dozens of people went out to walk for a cause that is estimated to affect nearly 160,000 South Carolinians.

Katie Ashley is an eating disorder recovery coach who says the walk is to raise money for research, so help won't be hard to find and afford for people like Platt. She is also the owner of Katie Ashley Whole Health.

"Often times, insurance will cut off paying for treatment when patients reach a certain weight or after a certain amount of days like 30 days no matter if they're recovered or not," said Ashley. "It's expensive to cover patients. People need a treatment team of three to five people, a therapist, nutritionist, a counselor and so on. So insurance many times don't want to pay for that."

Ashley says because of the struggle with insurance, only 1 in 10 people actually get treatment for their eating disorder. Luckily, Platt is among those to get medical treatment.

"Even though I've been in recovery for a couple of years now, I still can't eat red meats and I don't think I ever will, but I am so thankful for my family and all of the support that I have had," said Platt.

Platt hopes sharing her story will help others dealing with an eating disorder, and hopefully lure more resources to South Carolina for people like her.

The National Eating Disorder Association has a hotline for anyone dealing with anorexia, binge eating, bulimia or any other eating disorder. To start, call 1-800-931-2237.

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