By Cally Brooks
Meet the YouTube star who says she beat her eating disorder after filming herself taking on intense eating challenges and filming them on YouTube.
Rebecca Jane Leung, 24, was diagnosed with anorexia when she was only 10 years old after constantly worrying about calories and undergoing intense physical exercise to over-compensate for the food that she would eat.
She spent years undergoing treatment in therapy centres around the world.
But despite years of failed treatment, Rebecca says she’s now managed to finally overcome her demons – by sharing her story online.
After starting a YouTube channel two years ago, talking openly about her story, she began fully recovering from her eating disorder by sharing her story online.
Her community of thousands of followers even gave her the confidence to eat on camera – attempting eating challenges such as the 10,000 calories food challenge and only eating the highest calorie foods for 24 hours.
Rebecca, from Hong Kong, had to attend a variety of treatment during her teenage years but it was only when she started her channel in 2018 that she began pushing and motivating herself to beat her eating disorder.
Now at 24, Rebecca has fully recovered from her eating disorder and has built up a YouTube community of nearly 150,000 subscribers from all over the world.
Rebecca said: “When I was younger, my parents would try and make me eat but I was constantly worrying about the calories and if I did eat, I would do intense workouts to try and burn the calories.
“The first video I made for my channel was me explaining my journey and telling people about my eating disorder.
“I didn’t think anyone would actually watch but the support I have received is just amazing.
“When I started my channel, I was so motivated to recover and I knew I had to go full force and not give in to the eating disorder.
“You can see the progress from my first eating challenge to the most recent one. People noticed the turmoil I was going through when I was forcing myself to eat but now I feel fine with it”.
Rebecca was first diagnosed with anorexia when she was only 10 years old.
“I never really figured out why I stopped eating when I was only 10.
“At that time in my life, everything suddenly changed. We had moved to Tokyo and it was a lot to adjust to so maybe all of the change is what led to my eating disorder.
“I’ve always been a very anxious person and all of the change mixed with anxiety just wasn’t a good combination”.
When Rebecca was 16, she was sent for residential treatment in America which provided her with 24 hours of support, therapy and meals. She spent two years in this treatment centre before returning home to Hong Kong when she was 18.
In 2017, Rebecca started her recovery but struggled to motivate herself which led to her eating disorder returning.
After researching eating disorders on YouTube, she began watching videos from people who were also going through recovery which inspired her to start her channel in 2018.
By the time Rebecca had started her channel, she had met a new partner and her family were extremely supportive of her deciding to share her story.
“People may not understand how I can eat what I want now but I will always have to be conscious of what I eat.
“Meeting my boyfriend made a huge difference to my recovery because he supported me through it all.
“I choose not to watch diet videos on YouTube because I don’t think it’s healthy for me but it’s inevitable that something is going to pop up on social media at some point. I feel like I’m trigger proof now”.
Rebecca has had a huge amount of success from her channel, which has now become her full time job.
“I don’t see the eating challenges as extreme, more necessary. I was going up against a very strong and manipulative eating disorder with a plethora of rules and rituals – I had to combat it with something just as ‘extreme’. If I made it easier or made exceptions, the eating disorder would use that to weave its way in again.
“My mum was in charge of my food. She portioned my food and she made sure I ate everything. If I didn’t eat everything, I wouldn’t be able to go to dance class or I wouldn’t be able to go to school – I had to eat this food.
“I would be screaming and crying but I had to eat.
“The amount I was exercising started to overpower the amount I was eating. “