Understanding Binge Eating – My Journey
Please note that this is a personal account and not professional advice, I’m writing from the prospective of someone who is on a journey learning to stop binge eating. But also, at the same time building a more efficient body for sport, so my experience might not be the same as yours.
If you were to ask me when my Binge Eating started, I’d have to go right back to my teenage years when food was very much seen as a place of comfort and joy, rather than fuel to keep me alive. Of course, the years passed and my relationship with food varied other the years. I won’t bore you with my journey (you can read more here) but whatever I did, striking the right balance felt almost impossible.
It was early in 2020 I started to come to terms with the fact that maybe, I did have a problem. However, it felt so much bigger than me and I couldn’t find the mental headspace to repair this problem. Because, hear me out, that’s how binge eating works for some of us; almost as if the same hand that provides us with a quick hit dose of pleasure, follows up with a feeling of pain. I feel that so many people neglect to address the fact that in many cases, this isn’t a straight forward eating disorder, but a mental health condition too.
For me, Binge Eating likes to hang out in close proximity to my friend Anxiety and they have the kind of relationship where one encourages another. Almost like, playground bullies, the only issue is that these live inside of my head.
I’d lost a connection with my body, I didn’t really know the difference between being hungry or thirsty and kept misreading these cues. My fitness was suffering because my energy levels had more ups and downs than a fast paced theme park ride. Which, only led me to more feelings of frustration and guess what? They would lead to yet another binge.
Alongside this, I felt almost as if, I simply didn’t have a “stop” button when it came to food. I’d just become accustomed to waking up in a fog and subsequently running towards something sweet the second I felt slight stress, anxiety, or boredom, only to tell myself that tomorrow “I’d make it right”. But the cycle just kept on continuing, almost as if I was on some sort of runaway train…
My binges would vary, some weeks I’d binge almost daily, my routine would start with cereal, and then I’d more onto some sort of bar or pick on some cookies from the freezer, ice-cream, or peanut butter. The results varied, sometimes I felt an enormous, powerful high from my efforts, but mostly I felt feelings of great sadness and frustration. There was one consistent message throughout, that I’d try again tomorrow, that I’d almost willed myself into the idea I could just turn this off.
I wanted to make a change, therefore started reading articles and watching YouTube videos about how to beat the Binge Eating cycle. Many people suggested “Intuitive Eating” and I know this a successful lifestyle choice for a lot of people and I understood the concept. My issue was, I knew deep inside my heart, I would use this as an excuse to keep on binge eating, that’s how my mind works. Therefore, my next choice was to reach out to a nutritionist, explain that I wanted to build a more efficient body, beat my binge eating, and maybe, lose a few lbs in the process.
I’ve gone into detail about my experience during the first few weeks in this article and I won’t deny, that my stomach would flip before each weekly check-in. I quickly realised that one of the reasons I was craving so much sugar, is because I wasn’t getting enough satisfaction from my food. I was basing my choices on what I considered to be “Filling” and completely ignoring the important factor of macronutrients. By adding in more protein, healthy fats, more healthy complex carbs, and drinking more water, my body responded quickly, almost in celebration.
The first few weeks were exciting but tough, some nights I would walk up and down the kitchen, looking for a binge. Fighting an internal battle, is hard because my mind still remembered how good those highs were and it’s going to take me a long time to fight that craving…
My body, however started to surprise me, I had more energy, I was running faster, waking up less bloated and groggy and feeling calmer within myself. I won’t say that the results are instant, or that I wake up feeling amazing every day, because frankly that would be ridiculous. Let’s just say, the good days are out weighing the bad days.
After 6 weeks of following my macros and spending each day making sensible choices, I had a blow-out meal. I’d eaten homemade pizza during the past few weeks, but this was my time to eat out, enjoy unlimited calories and follow up with a brownie. I enjoyed the experience greatly, what I didn’t expect was the 2am anxiety attack, 5 hours sleep, cramps and unbelievable feeling of almost being “hungover” the following day.
This was the turning point where I started to feel a whole host of emotions, had I lost my ability to digest junk food? Does my body hate me? Did I always feel like this, but simply ignore it or even worse, consider this a normal way to feel? Why, was I not happy?
I did some research and learned that our bodies are clever, in fact far smarter than we give them credit for, and well, the respect needs to be give and take. My body was in overdrive, trying to digest the food, cope with the lack of sleep and basically, return to its new normal.
Where do I go from here? Am I healed? Is this the end? Well, the answer is that I just don’t know. It’s a long term journey, with recovery from anything, it takes time and effort. I won’t say that I’m fully healed, I’m still heavily pre-occupied with food and my relationship with food is far from perfect. With this in mind, my objective is to share my story and make others feel less alone, having a complicated relationship with food, isn’t a crime.