Foodie Friday: The Secret Life of a Binger
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 disciplines 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. Then 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 the 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
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?