Gemma Walker lived seven lonely years under the anorexia and bulimia grips before beginning the difficult but essential recovery process.

At just 14, she was diagnosed by an eating disorder. She is now 28, and doctors have warned her that she will die if she doesn’t receive treatment.

She was hospitalized a few times and received emergency care three times. 

Gemma is confident and eats McDonald’s every day without any care. She would rather walk the dog along the coast than do a workout at the gym. 

Gemma Walker has shared her journey through anorexia nervosa and binge eating to a comfortable weight in the hope of inspiring others

Gemma Walker shared her story of anorexia and binge-eating to reach a healthy weight, in hopes that it would inspire others.

The now 28-year-old from the Gold Coast, Queensland, was just 14 when she was diagnosed with an eating disorder and doctors warned her she would die without treatment when she weighed only 28kg

She was only 14 years old when her eating disorder was discovered. Doctors warned her that she would not survive if she didn’t get treatment.

Gemma points out three factors that led to her declining mental health. They were bullying, perfectionism and trying too hard to please her family. 

‘I was in the more popular school class, but I was always picked on. Although I was close to my friends, I was always the target. Daily Mail Australia: “I was perfectionist, I could be good at certain things but not great at others. That bothered me.” 

“I felt that I was trying to live up to my family’s expectations at the time. I lost weight and I felt as if I had accomplished something. But I realized very quickly that I didn’t want others to see it. It escalated.

Gemma would trick doctors into thinking she was gaining weight during her later teen years by attaching gym weights discreetly to her body (pictured today)

Gemma tricked doctors to believe she gained weight in her teens by secretly attaching her gym weights to her body. (photo today).

Steve, Steve’s father, stated that looking at pictures of his child in her most awful moments brought back all the anguish and pain of those difficult years.

He said, “They were the most difficult and terrifying years in our lives. We checked on her every morning to make sure she was breathing. To check if her heart was beating still.”

“Some nights we would simply sit down on the floor next to her bed and just be there for her. It was all we had.

She was admitted to hospital three times with one emergency care and two long term psychiatric and re-feeding admissions

 She was admitted to hospital three times with one emergency care and two long term psychiatric and re-feeding admissions

It's a far-cry from the confident Gemma today that eats McDonald's and would choose a walk along the beach over the gym

This is a big departure from Gemma, who eats McDonald’s every day and prefers to walk on the beach instead of going to the gym.

Anorexia Nervosa: What does it mean?

* Anorexia nervosa is a psychological illness that has devastating physical consequences. 

* It is characterised by low body weight and body image distortion with an obsessive fear of gaining weight, which manifests itself through depriving the body of food. 

* It often coincides with increased levels of exercise. 

* There are two main sub-types of anorexia:

Types that are restrictive — this is the most commonly known type of anorexia nervosa, whereby a person severely restricts their food intake.

Purging or binge-eating — less recognised, this type of anorexia nervosa forms when a person restricts their intake as above, but also has regularly engaged in binge-eating or purging behaviour.

* Anorexia nervosa can affect the mind and body in a multitude of ways:

Brain – preoccupation with food/calories, fear of gaining weight, headaches, fainting, dizziness, mood swings, anxiety, depression.

Hair and skin – dry skin, brittle nails, thin hair, bruises easily, yellow complexion, growth of thin white hair all over body (called lanugo), intolerance to cold.

The heart and the blood – poor circulation, irregular or slow heartbeat, very low blood pressure, cardiac arrest, heart failure, low iron levels (anaemia).

Intestines – constipated, diarrhoea, bloating, abdominal pain.

Hormones – irregular or absent periods, loss of libido, infertility.

Kidneys – dehydration, kidney failure.

Bones, muscles – loss of bone calcium (osteopenia), osteoporosis, muscle loss, weakness, fatigue.

Source: The Eating Disorders Organization 



Gemma tricked doctors by secretly attaching weights from the gym to make them believe she had gained weight.

“It was completely insane. It was an endless lie. She said that she was obsessed with numbers all day.

Gemma was unable to have regular teenage experiences. This is something she hopes to rectify a decade later.

Gemma made the first steps to recovery after her 21st Birthday. Gemma struggled for 18months with binging and suffered from the re-feeding syndrome.   

A dangerous condition called refeeding syndrome, it is when an extremely malnourished individual eats more than usual.

'It was absolutely insane. My life was a constant lie. All day I was fixated on numbers,' she said

“It was completely insane. It was an inexplicable lie that shaped my life. “All day, I was fixated upon numbers,” she stated.

After her 21st birthday Gemma made her first few tentative steps towards recovery but she struggled for 18 months with binge eating and suffered from re-feeding syndrome

Gemma turned 21 on her birthday and began to make some tentative steps in recovery. But she suffered for 18 months from binging, refeeding syndrome and struggled with eating disorders.

The teenage girl would eat 6,500 calories, the equivalent to 12 Big Macs in 20 minutes. She would also binge on fast food for hours. This would lead her to experience hallucinations and pass out.

‘Recovery isn’t pretty. She said that no girl will eat more, gain weight or feel better about herself right away.

“My weight loss was rapid. My weight gained 40kg in seven months. This was a tripling of my total body weight. But I felt the most miserable mentally.

“I didn’t have control over my body and was embarrassed by how I looked. To stop me from eating, I was forced to take my car keys and debit card. It seems that the urge to eat doesn’t cease, even though I was sure it wouldn’t.

'Recovery isn't pretty. No girl is going to eat a little bit more and gain weight and feel good about themselves right away,' she said

‘Recovery isn’t pretty. She said that no girl will eat more, gain weight or feel better about herself right away.

Her advice is to avoid taking too many photos and attending social events during this period, instead taking the time to get reacquainted with your new and changing body

It is best to not take too many pictures or attend social events during this time. Instead, spend the time getting to know your changing body.

She advised sufferers not to take too many pictures or attend social events during their recovery period. Instead, she suggested that they spend time getting to know and re-acquaint themselves with their new bodies.

Gemma never felt the need or struggle to control her portion size for many years.

She’ll happily eat in fast food and wear the bikini she loves without having to worry about her weight.

Eating disorders, more than any other, can rob you time. She said that this addiction will not serve you ever.

“It is important to remember that you are not alone, and that you have the ability to get through any obstacle. 

If you need help or support for an eating disorder or body image issue, please call Butterfly’s National Helpline on 1800 334 673 or email  

You can follow Gemma to hear about Gemma’s journey and more. Instagram.