Sunday, January 31, 2016

Binge Eating Loosens Its Hold

Over at Runs for Cookies, (my very favorite blog to read) Katie has been talking about binge eating and binge eating disorder (BED). This mini series of hers got me thinking and I realized that until I became an adult I had never really thought about the fact that I had been binge eating my whole darn life. When I was a small child I obviously didn't know what a binge was and as a teenager I thought I was only over eating. I was always so ashamed of how much food I was capable of consuming and always thought there was something wrong with me. Especially when friends' parents would point it out. 'Wow, your friend really knows how to eat,' was one of the biggest gut punches I ever felt. Yet I still didn't realize that my issue wasn't unique to me. I really thought until I was in my early twenties that no one else would understand my eating problem, but call it over eating or call it binging; a binge by any other name is still a binge and I had literally been eating my life away since I was 7 years old.

A lot of people associate BED with childhood trauma or depression or something significantly bad. My BED was a result of not being taught early on how to cope with ANY emotion. Be my mood happy, sad, angry, jealous, celebratory, or excited I was never taught how to channel and control those emotions and I feel like I have always felt things exponentially more severe than others which was not a good combination. Of course, I don't completely blame my mom or my grandparents or great grandparents who raised me. My great grandparents were too old and my grandparents and my mom were dealing with their own issues that created a ripple effect into my life. They themselves didn't know how to control their own problems and so how was it going to be possible for them to even recognize that I had any let alone teach me how to control them.

I have mentioned before that when my mom married my step-dad when I was seven years old and I had to leave the only home I had ever known with my grandparents, that my eating problems worsened. I distinctly remember  being somewhere around 8-9 years old binging on an entire box of Popsicles and another of fudgcicles while I listened to my mom and step-dad argue on the phone. I distinctly remember eating not one but two bags of dry top ramen alone in my room, though I don't really remember why I was alone. I remember going out to dinner and gauging how I ate so that I was NEVER the first person done. After the last bite of my dinner this feeling of mourning would come over me and I would feel tempted to reach out and steal the food off other peoples' plates. I remember that my favorite part of going out to eat was dessert and that when I looked down at my empty dinner plate and felt that gut wrenching remorse of being 'finished' that I was always quickly comforted, knowing dessert was coming. I used to hoard cookies and crackers and candy as if people were purposely keeping me from it. I would steal candy from my teachers' special jars that were meant for rewards during class. If someone told me I could only have 1 or 2 of something (such as cookies) I would make sure to sneak extra.

And all of the above was before I even started puberty.

Now, as an adult, looking back on my childhood I can pinpoint a couple places in my life where I could technically say, THAT was a moment that triggered my binges but what I often wonder is where exactly were the adults in my life and why didn't they recognize the huge problem brewing. I can answer that, just as I did a couple paragraphs up. They were busy; working and dealing with their own short comings and life issues but part of me always wonders that if they had caught my disorder early would things have been different for my emotionally and physically?

Now, as an adult, I look at my issues and I try to compartmentalize them. I try to figure out what emotions trigger my binges more than others and what foods exacerbate the urge. Anxiety, sadness, and anger are the biggest contributors to my binges but distraction and being busy helps immensely when an urge comes on. I have had to teach myself this technique but it only works 50% of the time.

Anxiety, which I experience most often in the evening, as I said is a huge trigger for binges. My mind races and I worry unnecessarily about things 100% out of my control but it is as if my mind is 100% out of control because I cannot stop the inundation of unwelcome and often scary and horrifying scenarios that plague me. Depression and sadness is also one of the biggest provocations toward a binge. Regret and remorse about things on a regular day I generally don't feel regret or remorse about often hit me like a ton of bricks. My divorce, adopting out my favorite cat, disciplining my children too harshly (verbally, of course) and a whole other slew of things create the perfect melting pot for a stormy binge sesh.

And the funniest thing (which actually isn't funny at all) is there don't have to be specific foods in the house to be conducive to a binge. If there aren't chips (my biggest trigger) or ice cream (my second biggest trigger) I will just as happily (or unhappily as it were) chow down on cheez-its, hand fulls of peanuts (which I don't necessarily like) a dozen cutie/halo oranges, string cheese, peanut butter, tostada shells plain, plain white rice (which I generally loathe) . . . and the list goes on and on . . . basically a binge will happen regardless of what foods are in the house. As Katie said, the only way to 100% escape or avoid a binge is to literally remove every ounce of food from the house.

I am currently 13 days binge free. Two weeks tomorrow and I am slowly plodding forward. I have found removing the white flour (all wheat by-products) and most of the white sugar from my diet (there is still a little in the flavored creamer I use) has helped immensely with hormone stability and therefore mood stability and I am better able to cope with any severe emotion I may experience without tending toward a binge.

Last night my ex husband got mad at me because after he invited us out to dinner and he invited himself over to our house I gently sent him home because my girls had had plans to watch a movie with my mom. After he got home I got a barrage of texts from him saying all kind of ridiculous things from how I am keeping him from his children, to I need to pray and ask God to take away my blinders, to simple craziness like how I lied to him when I said the girls didn't have plans (I hadn't known about their agreement to watch a movie with my mom when I told him we didn't have plans) and things similar. On any other night I would have put the girls to bed and sought comfort in the pantry and the freezer and the fridge only to be followed by another round of pantry, freezer, fridge. Thankfully, I was able to pray it out, give it to God and go to bed without consuming ANY-THING except a glass of iced tea because I was parched. Even though I fell asleep irritated and agitated and seething, I was also deeply calmed by the effect that even though HE thought he could control me FOOD was losing its hold on me.

Until next time . . .

1 comment :

  1. Good for you for having the courage to talk about this! And the strength to start working through it! Food is such a powerful thing for so many of us! Have a great Monday!


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