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The Largest Selection of Wholesale Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products in Denver

When it comes to trying new, exciting cuisine, few foods hit the spot like a deliciously fresh Mediterranean meal. However, we know that it can be very difficult to find authentic Mediterranean grocery wholesalers in Denver, CO. Having lived in metro Atlanta for years, we realized that our customers needed an easy way to find quality wholesale Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food in bulk. That is why we created Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market - to give everyone a chance to enjoy tasty, healthy food, desserts, and authentic Mediterranean gifts at wholesale prices.

Founded in 2009, Nazareth Grocery has become one of Denver's leading international wholesale grocery stores. We are very proud to serve our customers and do everything in our power to give them the largest selection of high-quality wholesale goods available.

If you're looking for the freshest, most delicious Middle Eastern wholesale products and ingredients, you will find them here at the best prices in the state. We encourage you to swing by our store in Marietta to see our selection for yourself. We think that you will be impressed!

The Nazareth Difference

At Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market, our mission is simple: bring you and your family the largest selection of wholesale Mediterranean products in Denver. When coupled with our helpful, friendly staff and authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere, it's easy to see why we are the top Middle Eastern grocery wholesaler in Denver, CO. We're proud to carry just about every kind of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern product that you can think of, from prepared meals and hookahs to fine seasonings and sweets. We're here for our customers and want each one of them to have a unique, one-of-a-kind experience when they shop with us.

Our loyal customers love our selection of the following wholesale foods and gifts:

  • Fresh Breads
  • OlivesOlives
  • HummusHummus
  • CheesesCheeses
  • SaucesSauces
  • Savory-FoodsSavory Foods
  • DessertsDesserts
  • DrinksDrinks
  • HookahsHookahs
  • TobaccoTobacco
  • SaucesGifts
  • Much More!Much More!

Our Service Areas

Most Popular Wholesale Mediterranean Foods

There is so much more to Mediterranean food than pizza and pasta. The perfect climate combined with delicious foods and amazing wine makes the Mediterranean incredibly irresistible. That's why our customers absolutely love to buy this kind of cuisine in bulk. Every country in this region has its own set of specialties and delicacies, each with its own flavors and styles of preparation.

Mediterranean countries include:

  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • Syria
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Spain
Mediterranean Grocery Denver, CO

So, when it comes to the most popular wholesale Mediterranean products in Denver,
what are we talking about?

 Mediterranean Supermarkets Denver, CO

Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a classic Mediterranean dairy product that is often enjoyed on its own, in Greek salads, on bread, or mixed with zucchini. Depending on where the feta is sourced and produced, the cheese can be made from cow, sheep, or goat milk, or even a combination of the three. Regardless of the animal it comes from, this delicious cheese is a crowd favorite.

 Mediterranean Grocery Store Denver, CO

Baba Ganoush

This Levantine dish is one of the most well-known Mediterranean dishes to eat in the United States. It typically comes in the form of a dip, served with pita or another kind of dipping bread. Commonly served before dinner as an appetizer of sorts, it usually features tahini, eggplant, garlic, spices, and sometimes yogurt. This tasty cuisine works great as a spread on a sandwich, or you can even eat it with a spoon, all on its own.

 Middle Eastern Grocery Denver, CO

Baklava

If you have never tried authentic baklava before, get ready to have your mind blown. This dessert is a traditional Mediterranean food that will have your taste buds craving more and more. Once you open a box of baklava from our Mediterranean grocery wholesaler in Denver, CO, you won't want to stop eating! Baklava is made with layers of thin filo dough, which is layered together, filled with chopped nuts (think pistachios), and sealed with honey or syrup. Baklava is so good that its origins are debated, leaving many wondering which country invented the dessert. Everyone from the Turks to the Greeks and even Middle Easterners hold unique takes on baklava. Try each one to discover your favorite!

Most Popular Wholesale Middle Eastern Foods

Fresh, healthy, aromatic, rich: it's no wonder that the popularity of Middle Eastern cuisine and products has skyrocketed in the United States. This genre of cuisine features a large variety of foods, from Halvah to Labneh. If there were one common theme throughout all Middle Eastern food, it would be the bright, vibrant herbs and spices that are used. These flavorings help create rich, complex flavors that foodies fawn over. Typically, Middle Eastern food is piled high for all to eat, with enough food for an entire republic to put down.

 Mediterranean Food Stores Denver, CO

Tabbouleh

This refreshing, healthy dish is chock-full of greens, herbs, tomatoes, and bulgur (or cracked wheat), creating a memorable, bold flavor. This dish may be eaten on its own or paired with a shawarma sandwich or helping of falafel. It's best to buy your ingredients in bulk to make this dish because it tastes best freshly made with family around to enjoy. Just be sure to bring a toothpick to the tabbouleh party - you're almost certain to have some leafy greens stuck in your teeth after eating.

 Middle Eastern Market Denver, CO

Shawarma

We mentioned shawarma above, and for good reason - this dish is enjoyed by men and women around the world, and of course, right here in the U.S. Except for falafel, this might be the most popular Middle Eastern food item in history. Shawarma is kind of like a Greek gyro, with slow-roasted meat stuffed in laffa with veggies and sauce. The blend of spices and the smoky meat mix together to create a tangy, meaty flavor that you will want to keep eating for hours. For western-style shawarma, try using beef or chicken. For a more traditional meal, try using lamb from our Middle Eastern grocery distributor in Denver, CO.

 Greek Grocery Store Denver, CO

Hummus

Traditionally used as a dip meant for fresh pita, hummus is a combo of chickpeas, garlic, and tahini, blended together until silky, smooth, and creamy. You can find hummus in just about any appetizer section of a Middle Eastern restaurant menu. That's because it's considered a staple of Middle Eastern food that can be enjoyed by itself, as a spread, or with fresh-baked pita bread. Hummus is also very healthy, making it a no-brainer purchase from our grocery store.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

If there's one diet that is most well-known for its health benefits, it has got to be the Mediterranean diet. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report listed the Mediterranean diet as No. 1 on its best over diet list. This incredible diet has been cited to help with weight loss, brain health, heart health, diabetes prevention, and cancer prevention.

Whether you already love Mediterranean food or you're looking to make some positive changes in your life, this "diet" is for you. Eating cuisine like Greek food, Persian food, Turkish food, and Italian food is healthy and tastes great. Even better than that? At Nazareth Wholesale Grocery, we have many staples of the Mediterranean diet for sale in bulk so that you can stock up on your favorites at the best prices around.

So, what exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

It is a way of eating that incorporates traditional Greek, Italian, and other Mediterranean cultures' foods. These foods are often plant-based and make up the foundation of the diet, along with olive oil. Fish, seafood, dairy, and poultry are also included in moderation. Red meat and sweets are only eaten in moderation, not in abundance. Mediterranean food includes many forms of nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, seeds, and more. Of course, you can find at them all at our wholesale Mediterranean grocery store!

Here are just a few of the many benefits of eating a healthy Mediterranean diet:

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Reduced Risk
of Heart Disease

Many studies have been conducted on this diet, many of which report that Mediterranean food is excellent for your heart. Some of the most promising evidence comes from a randomized clinical trial published in 2013. For about five years, researchers followed 7,000 men and women around the country of Spain. These people had type 2 diabetes or were at a high risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants in the study who ate an unrestricted Mediterranean diet with nuts and extra-virgin olive oil were shown to have a 30% lower risk of heart events.

Reduced Risk of Stroke for Women

Reduced Risk
of Stroke for Women

In addition to the heart-healthy benefits of a Mediterranean diet, studies have shown that eating healthy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods can reduce the chances of stroke in women. The study was conducted in the U.K., which included women between the ages of 40 and 77. Women who stuck to the Mediterranean diet showed a lower risk of having a stroke - especially women who were at high risk of having one.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

First and foremost, purchase your Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wholesale foods from Nazareth Grocery - we're always updating our inventory! Getting started on this healthy, delicious diet is easy.

Try these tips:

Try these tips

1.

Instead of unhealthy sweets like candy and ice cream, try eating fresh fruit instead. It's refreshing, tasty, and often packed with great vitamins and nutrients.

2.

Try eating fish twice a week, in lieu of red meat. Fish is much healthier and doesn't have the unfortunate side effects of red meat, like inflammation.

3.

Try planning out your meals using beans, whole grains, and veggies. Don't start with meats and sweets.

4.

They're tasty, but try to avoid processed foods completely.

5.

Instead of using butter to flavor your food, use extra virgin olive oil instead. Olive oil contains healthy fats and tastes great too.

6.

Try to get more exercise and get out of the house. The Mediterranean lifestyle is an active one, best enjoyed in the beautiful sunshine when possible.

Why Buy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products Wholesale?

Buying wholesale and retail are quite different. When you buy products from a wholesaler, you're essentially buying from the middleman between a retail establishment and the manufacturer. Wholesale purchases are almost always made in bulk. Because of that, buyers pay a discounted price. That's great for normal buyers and great for business owners, who can sell those products to profit. This higher price is called the retail price, and it is what traditional customers pay when they enter a retail store.

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 Middle Eastern Store Denver, CO

Latest News in Denver, CO

Straight red: Denver eliminated from 2026 World Cup host city contention

This story was updated at 6:42 p.m.There will be no soccer World Cup matches in Denver in 2026.FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, announced Thursday that Denver’s bid to host games during the 2026 FIFA World Cup was unsuccessful.Denver was one of 16 U.S. cities vying to host games. Unsurprisingly, major coastal cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta and Seattle were also chosen. Because the 2026 World Cup is jointly hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico, international cities like Vancouver and ...

This story was updated at 6:42 p.m.

There will be no soccer World Cup matches in Denver in 2026.

FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, announced Thursday that Denver’s bid to host games during the 2026 FIFA World Cup was unsuccessful.

Denver was one of 16 U.S. cities vying to host games. Unsurprisingly, major coastal cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta and Seattle were also chosen. Because the 2026 World Cup is jointly hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico, international cities like Vancouver and Mexico City were also chosen.

The World Cup won’t be too far from soccer fans in Colorado, however — Dallas, Houston and Kansas City will be the central U.S. cities representing the region in 2026.

Rubbing salt into wounds, Denver lost out to Kansas City, a regional frenemy thanks to the Denver Broncos decades-long rivalry with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Denver was expected to host five to six games, likely in the early rounds, if picked. Now they will not.

Denver’s snub continues a pattern of Colorado being excluded from U.S.-hosted World Cups. Of the three World Cups hosted in the U.S., including two Women’s World Cups, none have featured Colorado cities as a host.

State officials hosted FIFA last year to make the case why Denver should be chosen — they used the city’s transportation, accommodations, sustainability and Empower Field’s infrastructure as selling points — but several news outlets reported earlier this year that the bid was underwhelming. Behind the scenes, officials tried to raise money to entice FIFA to choose Denver, but in the end, it didn’t seem to be enough.

A member of the Denver Sports Commission told the Associated Press this week that Denver had raised — from private sources — about half the $40 million to $45 million needed to host the games.

The city officially unveiled its bid in October of 2021, with U.S. soccer legend and former Colorado Rapids goaltender Tim Howard joining Mayor Michael Hancock at Empower Field at Mile High Stadium. Bid committee members seemed optimistic. Denver could boast a world-class airport with easy transit access to downtown, a large stadium with Empower Field at Mile High, ample hotel capacity and plenty of tourist attractions. Plus, it’s strategically located in the middle of the country, in the Mountain Time Zone.

Denver is also one of the strongest soccer viewing markets in the country, ranking sixth in overall viewership for the most recent World Cup, according to the bid committee. A hundred thousand Colorado kids and adults participate in the sport.

And Denver has one other thing. An altitude of 5280 feet, a potential asset no other potential American bid city could match, one that aligned favorably for hosting teams that will also be playing at an even higher elevation, in Mexico City.

Organizers touted the benefits for Colorado of a successful bid. The bid committee hosted a watch party Thursday at Tom’s Watch Bar in McGregor Square adjacent to Coors Field as the host cities were announced.

“I'm so disappointed,” said Robin Fraser, who is head coach of the Colorado Rapids — the state’s Major League Soccer club. “And I feel like it would've been an ideal place, and I look at some of the other cities and I would say no disrespect to the other cities, but Denver is one of the greatest cities in this country, I think. And to not have the opportunity to have a World Cup come here, I think is incredibly disappointing.”

Fraser added that he was unsure why a place like Kansas City was chosen but Denver was not.

“I just think there's no comparison,” Fraser said. “I think if you look at cities in this region, Kansas City being one of them … it's actually mind boggling to me that Kansas City was chosen over Denver.”

Other bid cities and states lined up millions in private funding to secure World Cup games. But some also offered public money and tax breaks.

In contrast, Colorado lawmakers did not approve any funds or pass legislation as part of the efforts to lure the 2026 World Cup, nor did Gov. Jared Polis or Denver Mayor Michael Hancock push for that.

In the campaign to secure Kansas City’s bid, Missouri is among a group of states that pre-emptively passed a bill to exempt FIFA tickets from sales taxes, according to the AP. And governors in Georgia and Florida signed legislation dropping sales taxes on World Cup tickets.

Asked if Denver’s bid, without public money available, perhaps due to TABOR, the tax-limiting measure voters approved in the 1990s, was at a competitive disadvantage, Matthew Payne, executive director of the Denver Sports Commission, said “Yeah, I think it can play a factor.”

“We don't have the public fundraising and the participation there that maybe other destinations have,” he said. “But there wasn't a requirement to have your funding put into place for any of these cities.”

He said Denver’s bid had already reached about half of its fundraising goals and that he was confident it could have raised the rest privately.

The bid team estimated the cost of hosting would be in the $35 million to $45 million range — to cover a fan fest, security, transportation, game and training site modifications.

Bob Contiguglia, a Denver resident and the former president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, said he wasn’t sure how important a role public money played in the final decisions.

“It may, I don't know for sure, because I'm not FIFA,” he said. “The economics of the World Cup are important to FIFA and whether or not that played a role, I don’t know.”

Could the recently unsettled nature of the ownership of a key, arguably the key, Colorado sports enterprise, the Denver Broncos, have had an impact? Contigulia didn’t think so.

“I don't believe it had any influence,” he said.

Contiguglia is a member of Colorado Public Radio’s Board of Directors.

The potential economic impact for Denver was estimated by the committee at $360 million. That’s based on the global TV audience of 3.5 billion, increased tax revenue from tourism, foot traffic from 450,000 visitors spending money at local businesses and an enduring legacy and recognition as a World Cup host city.

Qatar is set to host this year’s iteration of the World Cup, which the U.S. Men’s National Team has qualified for. Matches begin in November.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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Monsoon hits Colorado for first time in 2022

The first monsoon surge of the season will impact Colorado Thursday through Monday.DENVER — When people hear the word monsoon, they often think about heavy rain. That can happen as a result, but the monsoon is actually a shift in the wind pattern.During the North American Monsoon, the air moves up from the south and can reach all the way up into Colorado....

The first monsoon surge of the season will impact Colorado Thursday through Monday.

DENVER — When people hear the word monsoon, they often think about heavy rain. That can happen as a result, but the monsoon is actually a shift in the wind pattern.

During the North American Monsoon, the air moves up from the south and can reach all the way up into Colorado.

The first monsoon surge of the season will impact Colorado Thursday night and last through the day on Monday.

The main impact on the Front Range will be smoke – not rain. With several large wildfires burning in Arizona and New Mexico, a south wind will push that smoke straight into Colorado.

Some smoke was visible on Thursday night and Friday morning but will be more noticeable on Friday evening into Saturday. Possibly even thick enough to block the view of the mountains from Denver.

Thunderstorms will get a moisture boost from the monsoon but they will only be scattered on the plains. A couple of monsoon-charged storms hit Weld County on Thursday night bringing pea to 1.5" hail, accumulating small hail, and close to 2" of rain in some areas.

Similar storms can be expected over the weekend on the Front Range and eastern plains.

Those monsoon showers will have more impact in the mountains, so expect an elevated risk for burn scar flooding over the weekend. One flash flood warning has already been issued in the Cameron Peak burn area briefly on Thursday night.

The large burn scars from the 2020 season will still carry a high flood risk, but the impacts do get reduced a little each year after the fire. It can take more than 10 years to fully heal a burn area.

There is a high flash flood threat this weekend in New Mexico where recent and ongoing wildfire areas are located -- The fresher the burn scar, the more likely flash flooding will occur.

However, no flood watches had been issued as of Friday morning.

The heaviest rain is expected on the western slope where more than an inch of rain will be possible by Sunday night. A lot of lightning is also likely, so we’ll have to watch out for the possibility of more fire starting.

Where to watch Avs playoff games if you don’t have $1,000 for a ticket

It’s hard to duplicate the electricity of a Colorado Avalanche home game, and now that the team is in the Stanley Cup finals — for the first time in 21 years — the atmosphere at Ball Arena is going to be even wilder. Unfortunately, so are the ticket prices, which are running from $800 to $1,000 each on aftermarket websites for the cheapest seats alone.But that doesn’t mean you can...

It’s hard to duplicate the electricity of a Colorado Avalanche home game, and now that the team is in the Stanley Cup finals — for the first time in 21 years — the atmosphere at Ball Arena is going to be even wilder. Unfortunately, so are the ticket prices, which are running from $800 to $1,000 each on aftermarket websites for the cheapest seats alone.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the games, all of which start at 6 p.m., in the company of several dozen, or even a few hundred, of your closest burgundy-and-steel-blue-wearing buds. In fact, the city of Denver went out of its way to make it easier for bars to host watch parties by temporarily waiving a rule that makes them wait 30 days for permission to modify their premises.

The official, team-sponsored watch parties will take place on the Tivoli Quad, at 900 Auraria Parkway, where there will be giant screens and food and beverages from Tivoli Brewing as well as some food trucks. Free and open to the public, the parties begin at 5 p.m. on each day there is a game. There will also be chances to win limited-edition Avs swag, team autographed items, and more. For more information, go to ColoradoAvalanche.com/WatchParties.

The first party takes place at 6 p.m. in Denver on Wednesday, June 15. The remaining events are on Saturday, June 18, Monday, June 20 and Wednesday, June 22. Those will be followed by up to three more parties on the Tivoli Quad if needed.

Beyond that, every sports bar in town, along with dozens of other bars, restaurants and breweries will be showing the games. Here are few of the parties and what they offer.

Blake Street Tavern, which is one of Denver’s top sports bars, will be in full swing during each game, with watch parties featuring game sound turned up. The venue is huge, but that doesn’t mean it won’t fill up, so plan to get there a little early as it’s first come, first served. 2301 Blake St.

McGregor Square will also be hosting parties similar to the ones it has had throughout the playoffs. These free outdoor events are in front of a massive screen. In addition, the venue is offering a VIP Stanley Cup watch party on June 18 the 3rd floor terrace. 1901 Wazee St.

Highland Tap & Burger continues its series of Avalanche Happy Hours with specials like $2 Coors Lights, $3 Dale’s Pale Ales, $5 well drinks, $4 meatball sliders and $6 taquitos. The deals are good from when the puck drops each night until the end of the game. 2219 W. 32nd Ave.

Brooklyn’s at Ball Arena is located at 901 Auraria Parkway, right next to the main event, and the place can seat up to 500 people, so the cheering might be almost as loud. For it’s watch parties, Brooklyn’s will be opening all day to allow people to pre-party to their heart’s content.

Number Thirty Eight will show the games in all their glory on its 200-square-foot outdoor LED wall, as well as on its indoor TVs. The spot has a full menu and 120 taps. Located at 3560 Chestnut Place, it opens at 4 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, and at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

DNVR Bar, a newish sports bar and podcast recording studio dedicated to of Colorado’s professional teams, will open three hours before game time, at 3 p.m. 2239 E. Colfax Ave.

The hockey-loving crew at Mockery Brewing will host Hockery at Mockery parties for the duration of the Stanley Cup Finals. Anyone wearing Avs gear gets $1 off full pours in the taproom during the games. (“Those wearing Tampa gear will have $1 added to full pours,” the brewery says.) The brewery is located at 3501 Delgany St.

Other bars that have been hosting watch parties include Sobo 151, Sports Column, Stoney’s Bar & Grill, the Cherry Cricket and View House.

The Denver Post will update this story as we find out about more watch parties.

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Sexy Pizza is losing its Capitol Hill restaurant after its owner criticized the building’s anti-homeless landscaping

For the first time since Sexy Pizza opened 15 years ago, the restaurant won’t have a Capitol Hill location.Restaurateur Kayvan Khalatbari said his landlord, Katherine Diane MacRossie, has refused to renew his lease at his pizza chain’s 1018 East 11th Avenue location.“Fifteen years, we’ve never been late on rent, let alone missed a payment,” he said. “And we’ve been great tenants. We’ve been go...

For the first time since Sexy Pizza opened 15 years ago, the restaurant won’t have a Capitol Hill location.

Restaurateur Kayvan Khalatbari said his landlord, Katherine Diane MacRossie, has refused to renew his lease at his pizza chain’s 1018 East 11th Avenue location.

“Fifteen years, we’ve never been late on rent, let alone missed a payment,” he said. “And we’ve been great tenants. We’ve been good stewards of that block, I think, and of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. We are obviously very engaged in the community and philanthropically and with the local schools and the creative industry and obviously take very good care of our employees with our ownership stock and benefits and pay and things of that nature. But this woman has just always had something against us.”

Over the years, he said, the business has put more than $200,000 in renovations into the space. MacRossie hasn’t returned our request for comment.

Sexy Pizza started trying to renew the lease a year ago, Khalatbari said. Over the months MacRossie declined to commit, saying she was waiting to see what the right market price would be.

Six months ago, he revisited the lease with her, noting that Sexy Pizza had employees and customers to think of. She stalled again, he said.

In March, Khalatbari criticized rocks installed around the building designed to deter unhoused people from camping on the block. Khalatbari, who said he had been homeless himself when he opened Sexy Pizza, had been blasted by community members for the landscaping and wanted to correct the record. He opposed the installation, both because it was designed to keep unhoused people from camping in the area but also because it was making it hard to do business.

“It’s kind of a double slap in the face on that front, in that it goes against everything that we believe in, and people are now associating this terrible practice of placing rocks in front of the store — they’re associating that with us,” he said at the time. “And it’s made it harder on our drivers to do their job, especially on busy weekend nights.”

“She said that she essentially didn’t appreciate getting thrown under the bus on the homelessness issue. And we don’t have an interest in renewing your lease at this time,” recalled Khalatbari.

A week ago, he said, he tried to convince her to extend the lease on a month-to-month basis and for double the price, and she still said no.

“We’re not going to have any dine-in at this temporary location,” he said. “She’s really putting our business in a very rough spot for no reason and with no warning, which is really unfortunate.”

In the meantime, Khalatbari is on the hunt for commercial real estate to buy or lease, where he can set up a new Sexy Pizza in Capitol Hill, the Golden Triangle, Uptown or another part of Central Denver. The business model might shift away from dine-in and look more like Benny Blanco’s, with a take-out window.

“If there are any landlords or people looking to sublet, probably somewhere between 500 and 1000 square feet, we’d be really interested in talking with them,” Khalatbari said.

‘Maddie tried, and we tried’: Eating disorder took her life and changed her family’s world

Madeleine Mae, 23, spent half her life fighting an invisible opponent. During the pandemic, it got harder. As eating disorders increased, treatment space filled up.DENVER — The obituary for Madeleine Mae Billings: A photograph. A list of accomplishments – all significant. And the cause of death."I see pieces of us in Maddie, and I see pieces of the other kids in Maddie,"...

Madeleine Mae, 23, spent half her life fighting an invisible opponent. During the pandemic, it got harder. As eating disorders increased, treatment space filled up.

DENVER — The obituary for Madeleine Mae Billings: A photograph. A list of accomplishments – all significant. And the cause of death.

"I see pieces of us in Maddie, and I see pieces of the other kids in Maddie," said her father, Nick Billings. "I think Maddie had the biggest heart in the family. She felt everything deeply, which made her very emphatic and caring but also was a burden for her. She was one of those kids who made it look easy to do things really well."

Maddie was their firstborn. The caretaker and perfectionist. The girl who would spend half her life fighting against an eating disorder.

"I think it preys on that feeling of feeling special or feeling like you can be the best at something," said her mother, Lisa Laumann Billings. "Maddie was fiercely competitive, and if you look at her transcript, you will see the results of that. There was also this element to her personality that she could do all of this and survive on less fuel than all of us."

In the summer before her teenage years, her eating changed. Her mom, who is also a psychologist, took her to a therapist, who offered a stark warning.

"She was so small and innocent and tiny. And she said something like – the only thing this eating disorder wants from you is to put a headstone on you," Lisa said. "It's going to challenge you to the very end to believe that if you follow its order, it's going to bring you to some kind of life or some kind of perfection or some kind of special spot. It is a very devious and dangerous disease."

It was a disease that creeped in and out of Maddie's life, year after year.

"And for periods of time with the illness, she would be incredibly functional – just killing it, academically, athletically, socially, while starving herself," Nick said.

"Her therapist would say early on, she's one of the sickest kids I've seen," Lisa added. "You'd look at her and she didn't look like one of those anorexic kids you'd see in the hospital, but her thinking was so – was so caught up in it."

Middle school, then high school and then Dartmouth College.

Yes, Dartmouth. Maddie had plans. Until the disease took over.

"She did not want to be the person she was when she was really in her eating disorder. She hated that person, and it was torturous for her," Nick said. "I feel emotionally, we did everything we could. It was treatment-resistant because we threw all the treatment we could at this, and in the last year, we were grasping at straws."

Outpatient and inpatient programs – dozens of them. They tried it all, but by the end of 2021, there was nothing left.

"I said, 'Maddie, you could die from this. You have to listen to us. You have to,' " Lisa said. "I think she was scared. At that stage she wanted help.

"We were on the wait list at the Denver Health acute facility, and Maddie had been there, and we had reason to believe she might respond again there, but there were no beds available."

Since the start of the pandemic, the eating disorder unit has been full and on a waiting list.

Maddie passed away in her sleep five days after Christmas.

"I think her heart just finally said, 'Can't do it,' " Lisa said.

Maddie was only 23 years old. Funny, loving and brilliant.

"Her brain was one of her greatest assets, in addition to heart, but her brain was also her greatest enemy," Nick said.

Lisa feels the pain of her absence every day.

"I really miss her so much," she said.

Maddie didn't want to die. In her last week of life, she enrolled in a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins for treatment-resistant eating disorders.

"Maddie tried, and we tried, and it didn't work, and we tried everything," Nick said. "So clearly, there's a population of people who suffer from this illness that need something more."

What that something more is, they don't know.

They do know they loved Maddie and miss her deeply.

"I think it's opened a door to be really transparent with each other about how we feel," Lisa said. "To take every opportunity to tell each other how much we love each other."

A memorial for Maddie will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday at her high school, Kent Denver School.

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