Like I mentioned in my post about compulsive eating, I think I’ve never talked about these things because I wasn’t sure anyone would understand. Although I’m moved on from binge eating and can’t even remember my last binge, I still feel the need to share these reasons for my obesity. How does it do anyone any good to know how I’m losing weight if they don’t know what caused it? How does it do me any good?
So I’m continuing my post series about reasons why I became obese and today I’m tackling my past with binge eating.
I think this is appropriate timing because over the last few weeks I’ve had the urge to binge. Seemingly out of nowhere it hit me – the desire to eat and eat until I feel sick and can’t focus on anything else. It’s happened a few times and although I haven’t actually done it, I’ve been shocked by the powerful pull I feel towards binging.
Binge eating was actually one of the last bad habits I picked up. I picked up emotional eating early on in life and the compulsive eating came later, bringing the binge eating with it.
The Wikipedia definition of binge eating (which is pretty much what all the other websites say):
Binge eating is a pattern of disordered eating which consists of episodes of uncontrollable eating. It is sometimes as a symptom of binge eating disorder. During such binges, a person rapidly consumes an excessive amount of food. Most people who have eating binges try to hide this behavior from others, and often feel ashamed about being overweight or depressed about their overeating. Eating binges can be followed by so-called compensatory behaviour, acts by which the person tries to compensate for the effects of overeating. Examples of such acts are purging (induced vomiting or laxative abuse), fasting, and heavy exercising.
Binge eating can often turn into binge eating disorder, with these symptoms:
When you have binge-eating disorder you often have numerous behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms, such as:
- Eating large amounts of food
- Eating even when you’re full
- Eating rapidly during binge episodes
- Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
- Eating a lot even though you’re not hungry
- Frequent dieting, possibly without weight loss
- Frequently eating alone
- Feeling depressed, disgusted or upset about your eating
After a binge, you may try to diet or eat normal meals. But restricting your eating may simply lead to more binge eating, creating a vicious cycle.
You may have no obvious physical signs or symptoms when you have binge-eating disorder. You may be overweight or obese, or you may be of a normal weight.
I never binged so often that it could be considered a disorder (I don’t think) and I never did any of the compensatory behaviors. But for a few years I know I binged at least a few times a month as I put on more and more weight during high school. Once I started getting healthy the binges slowed down and eventually stopped as I learned more and opened up about my behaviors.
I remember the times I used to binge eat. Just like the compulsive eating, it was an out of control feeling. The most common times were either after school when I got home and would eat a full meal for a snack, followed by cereal and then another full meal or two. I would eat the same amount of calories I should have eaten in a full day in the few hours after school. It’s embarrassing and hard to admit, but that’s what I would do sometimes instead of normal after school activities. Or sometimes the binges would happen at night, after everyone was asleep and it could happen secretly. The massive amounts of food I would eat created a nice little drugged feeling that led me straight to sleep.
There was never much thinking about the food. Everything I ate was pure crap and rarely tasted good. It wasn’t gormet food I was eating – it wasn’t even good food. It was anything I could find and make quickly, anything processed and sweet, anything easy and fast that could be eaten in quantity without being missed. I would make my bets about whether or not the family would miss a whole box of granola bars when we had three boxes. If the answer was yes then I would eat them. Sometimes even if the answer was no I would still sneak them out and eat them.
The definition includes hiding the behavior and feeling ashamed about it. Those both fit my activity. I tried to never eat that much around anyone. At school I would eat normal amounts of food and rarely get anything terribly bad for me. But my weight continued to grow because of my secret binge eating every week or two. I hid it from my family as much as I could but I know that sometimes I just didn’t care. When you are already being called fat every five minutes, who cares if they see you eating?
I also remember feeling depressed, both about my weight and about my uncontrollable eating. To be honest, I’m not sure which came first – the eating problems or the depression. I just know they were all tied up with each other, feeding each other and carrying each other on. It’s that vicious cycle that you can easily get trapped in: you feel bad so you eat which makes you feel bad about yourself so you eat more which makes you feel worse and so on. You think the food helps you feel better but in the end it is only a temporary fix that leaves you feeling worse. Vicious cycle indeed.
I haven’t binged in so long that I can’t remember the last time it happened, which is why it is shocking that the thoughts and “desires” are there lately. I’ve wanted to binge. I’ve wanted to do it and felt like I should and that worries me. I’m getting closer to 200 pounds and I think that mental barrier might have a lot to do with it. But the fact that those thoughts were in my head without any encouragement is something I have to deal with.
I know a lot of thin and fat and inbetween people struggle with secret binge eating. It’s not something that only affects one size of people. The person who binge eats and then exercises 5 hours to get rid of the calories is no better than the person who binge eats then does nothing and gains 5 pounds. No matter what your body size, if you are binge eating it is a problem and needs to be dealt with instead of ignored.
If you have the symptoms or are having problems with binge eating, you should seek help. Even if it is just admitting it and talking to a close friend (online or off) and asking for advice and help. It doesn’t always get better by itself and can get worse without treatment. So, talk to your doctor or seek help from a mental health provider. Or if you can’t say it to someone who know or someone you have to see again like your doctor, check out the National Eating Disorders Association website or call their toll free helpline at 1-800-931-2237 Monday-Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm PST.
And as always, thanks for listening to me. Thanks for being my support system.