The Secret Life of a Binger

Foodie Friday: The Secret Life of a Binger

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Hello People,

This is an awkward post. Not gonna lie.  One that I don’t want to post about, or rather, have been putting off because it is so difficult to talk about.  I suppose that is because it is personal and I don’t like airing all of my issues to the wind.  Maintaining that certain “air of mystery” has been my modus operandi for most of my life.  But, that isn’t always the best way to go.  Admitting to problems is the first step to conquering them.

Binging: what is it?  Plainly, it is eating lots of food, usually in secret (alone), till one cannot eat anymore.  At some point the mechanism for feeling full actually shuts off and you, or rather I, can’t tell if I am full or not.  The only thing that matters is tasting food, feeling food in the mouth, the smells & textures and the sheer joy of not caring about what I am eating.

So much of my life is about watching what I eat.  It has become a real chore to think about.  Strict low_calorie_food_rmn4edisciplines rule my eating habits such as:  I can only eat so many calories; I cannot eat too much sugar or carbs; I cannot drink alcohol; I must eat vast quantities of green leafy vegetables when all I want are potatoes; and so on. These rules tend to wear on me after a while (sometimes “a while” varies from 2 weeks to 2 days). Remember, I have been dieting since I was 15 and now am 41.  Just once,  I would like to eat what I want or at least not worry about the calories, fat, sugar, starch, etc, etc.  Then it just explodes into an eating frenzy.

It may not start out intentionally wanting to binge.  In fact, when I am in the midst of it, I am not thinking “I’m binging and LOVING IT!!!”  It starts with wanting something off the diet – real bad, knowing that I cannot have whatever that is today because I’ve already had enough or it just isn’t a part of the plan.  Then, I have a bit of that delight.  Then I have a little more.  Then….it’s gone.  ThenI_Ate_TOO_Much I assume that since I ate that “bad” thing, I might as well just keep going because I broke my diet. After about an hour or so, many things have been eaten and some entire packages of previously unopened food have been demolished and the empty containers have been thrown away.

Then, for whatever reason but not the feeling of fullness, I stop.  Eating this much takes my digestive system a long time to process.  My sleep is often terrible, if I do this in the evening right before bed.  I feel like a skunk has crawled up into my gut and died.  My abdomen is bloated and I may even feel a bit sick.  It’s awful and yes, I do feel remorse after about 8 hours have passed.

I don’t have any special radical remedy like 6 hours of intense exercise or purging or being anorexic images-7the next day.  Nope, I just binge and that’s where it ends.  My mom says it’s being half bulimic.  We just don’t throw up.  Yes, she has this problem too.  It has become the bane of my existence.  I want to dump this enemy like no other.

I know that it is intensely psychological.  It is also hormonally driven and a learned behavior.  It is also a habit that has become familiar like an old pair of shoes.  But I’ve been giving it some thought.  It needs to go.  I don’t completely know how, but it does.  I’ve told myself in the past, many times over, to stop doing it.  But it returns.  However, it is getting better and better and less and less frequent over time, meaning that I am learning how to control the issue.  The last time, I stopped eating halfway through the cycle and threw the diet saboteur I was currently chewing on in the outside garbage can.  I knew that I wouldn’t fish it out because that can has had maggots in it and I won’t be eating anything that was near a maggot.  (ucckkk! I can’t believe I put the “m” word in one of my blogs! EWWW!!!)

Most of my help with over-coming binging has been through the Inside-Out Weight Loss podcast.  Rene Stephens is very gentle in understanding this issue (she is a licensed therapist) and has many tips

The Butterfly Logo = Transformation

The Butterfly Logo = Transformation

on binge recovery.  One strategy is feeling the effects of the binge before the frenzy begins.  If the mind can think ahead of what will befall them once the damage is done, then one may not want to venture down the binge path.  This is difficult because in the act of binging (and right before), the mind almost glazes over and the feeling of eating is euphoric like being on a drug.  I actually prefer this feeling to being buzzed on alcohol.  Stopping this feeling can be almost impossible.  This is something that I am still working on, and successfully, but it is no where near cured.  Perhaps in the future, I can post again on my progress and insights.  It is a nasty little habit, one that I’m sure has kept me at my weight for these 26 years.  Getting this devil off my shoulder will free me to become the healthy-weight person I really long to be.

So…….yeah.  That’s my story on this particular bad nemesis.  I can’t be the only one struggling with this.  Do you or someone you love?  What is your best advice?

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4 thoughts on “The Secret Life of a Binger

  1. Thank you for putting yourself out there and sharing your story. I struggle with binge eating too and have off and on since I was in middle school. I’m now almost 33 and still grappling with this disorder or disease, whatever it is exactly. The way you described everything, it’s exactly the way my experience has been too. This past year has been especially difficult for me and I’ve been dealing with depression, among other things. Being depressed this past year is what triggered me to binge again, I had been doing pretty well with the occasional binge but it wasn’t controlling me the same as this past year or other times during my life. I’ve noticed that for me, usually the binge eating starts up when I’m depressed or if I’m feeling particularly bad physically. I suffer from chronic pain and whenever I’m having tough times handling it, I will begin the cycle then too. I recently decided that I had to do something about this and get things under control again and one of the best ways that has helped me in the past and now present is fasting. Fasting can mean a lot of things to people too, there are several methods of fasting for instance, what I do is drink whatever I want, within reason of course; restricting food completely for a period of time. This is not a easy thing always, I am fasting currently and I’ve had several days here and there where I cave in and eat something. The good thing is that even when I’ve ate something, it’s been something that is reasonably healthy and a healthy portion size. And I’ve stopped after eating whatever I end up having too. Fasting is like resetting things for me, it’s really tough in the beginning but as time goes on, it becomes easier and your hunger and cravings diminish too. I honestly think that when I ate this week it was because I was just bored or depressed, not because I was hungry. I just try to take it a day at a time right now but each time I have done this, it’s proven to be effective for me. Once I reach my goals and it’s time to start eating again, I don’t have the appetite or desire to eat like before. I’ve also sorta mentally prepared for things too. Because I’m not eating most days, I have to learn to manage my time, I start examining my relationship with food, why I eat the way I do, it goes on. I don’t know if this is the best way to go about binge eating but it’s really helped me. Of course, I also am trying desperately to not just fix the way I eat but the way I think and feel about myself, things in general. That’s a big part of it for me and I think most others, becoming aware of your emotions and learning better ways to cope with things than to binge. I am so glad to find you and I look forward to following you and reading more of your stuff. You are not alone in this. If you ever need to talk, I’m happy to listen/read/etc. I like having the support and think it’s important. So many people just don’t understand binge eating and it can totally frustrate me when people try to give me advice or be critical about it. It’s nice to have someone to talk to that gets it like you do! Thanks again!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience in this. Sounds like you have found some ideas to help quell the issue. I’m glad that my post meant something to you! We are definitely not alone.

  2. I am glad you posted about this because you are SO not alone. My binging habit has gotten better but it still isn’t totally gone. I completely think that the nights we get pizza and I eat the whole thing of Crazy Bread and stuff pizza in too is just one form of it. I tend to do this when I go for however long eating really “good”, don’t get any movement on the scale, and then say “EFF THIS”. Or I could be really depressed or get pissed that “other women can eat what they want and not work out and they are thinner/weigh less/look better/are better than me so why do I even bother? It is a NASTY thing to fight. My best advice is to try to stop and think instead of just mindlessly stuffing food in. Try to distract yourself by painting your nails or going for a walk or doing anything other than surfing Pintrist by looking at food. 🙂 I’m going to try to remember and take my own advice next time I am tempted to turn into the cookie monster.

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