You’re happy? Stressed? Sad? How about because you’re bored? Nervous? At a social gathering? All of the above and then some? Yeah, that sounds about right.
If there ever was an excuse to eat, I would find it and I would own it. This is from a girl who at age 8, could polish off a Big Mac and fries. With ice cream for dessert. My stomach knew no limits, there was no relationship between my stomach, brain and the rest of my body. When I ate, I wasn’t feeding and nourishing my body, I was feeding my emotions.
In grade school, I was made fun of for being fat and thus didn’t have many friends, so how did I console myself? After school I would go home and dive into a bag of crispy Lay’s potato chips and mate them with Hidden Valley Ranch or sink my teeth into two, three, four or more Hostess snack cakes; eating until I had gotten my emotional fill. When I landed a random friend who would want to spend the night, we would see if we could polish off an entire bag of Doritos and box of Twinkies ourselves while oogling over our latest boy band crush. Mission accomplished, a few times.
Not until recently have I been able to understand my dangerous past of eating habits. I knew I frequently hit the kitchen in times of sadness and stress, but I had came to terms with the fact that over time, I had developed a habit of binge eating. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t binge and purge; I just binged. Food was my comfort, I wasn’t satisfied until I finished what I was eating in it’s entirety, whether it be a sleeve of Oreos, a bag of mini-candy bars, a super-size french fry…I was resilient until every last bite was polished off.
My first go-around with Stimulock taught me how to listen to my body better than I had before, yet when I had finished the lock-in phase, it was Christmas time. This meant cookies, Topsy’s popcorn, chocolate, you name it and I ate it without regard. I had spent so much time learning to ‘listen’ to my body and yet I was ignoring everything it was telling me. When I did Stimulock the second time, it was a different experience than the first. I was more aware of my body, but that didn’t mean I listened to it. When I cheated, I cheated. Go big or go home. I wasn’t going to cheat on a potato chip; I would rather cheat on three or four cookies, a box of Annie’s Bunnies or gobs of peanut butter. This put me in physical pain, yes, physical pain from eating more than my body could handle. The next day I would do a proper ‘cheat day follow-up,’ I would continue to lose weight, and all was well with the world. If anything, this only fed my willingness to binge. It wasn’t making me gain weight, so I wanted to do it more despite how miserable it made me feel.
Then I got to thinking, “Why am I eating this? Do I even want this? Will this make me happy?” Yeah. Seemingly big questions to consider while staring down a gooey, chewy, fudgy cookie. It was as though a switch clicked on in my brain, a huge lightbulb swung and hit me in the forehead or something. “I don’t need to eat the whole graham cracker, I can just have a piece of it. The other half of the box of cereal will still be there in the morning, it isn’t going to disappear.” Woah. These were revolutionary thoughts I had only dreamed of having someday. Enter the recovery phase. I wasn’t out of control.
I can’t help but think that part of this recovery thought process was triggered after reading about Monica’s bouts with binge eating and other people who have the same problem. I learned that I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t the only person in the world who could easily put back half a jar of peanut butter and two bowls of cereal before bed. I felt as though even if I made a mistake and binged, I would live to see the next day and would be able to make healthier choices.
My biggest issue with binging was the fact that I was out of control of my body and actions, I was unhappy with myself as a binger and was using food as a crutch, something to cover up [I don’t even know what] and console me. In hindsight, I find myself wondering, “Why…why did I put myself through that?” and I’m sure that someday I will understand, but am currently relishing having control of something that controlled me for over 13 years.
Binge eating is something that I believe a lot of people deal with, whether they realize it or not. Instead of mindless eating, I ask myself these questions:
- Are these real hunger pangs?
- Why am I eating? Is what I’m about to eat healthy for me?
- Is this something that my body needs or wants?
- How will I feel after I eat this?
Now comes the communication between brain, stomach and body. Our bodies are ours to respect and take care of, and the communication pathways within ourselves should be stronger than any other paths of communication we have in our lives.
I don’t know if this is something you can even relate with, but to those who can relate and those whom this may be a current struggle for; you have control over your situations. Food does not rule your life, and if you may have an incident where you get a little too crazy, do not beat yourself up over it. That will only make matters worse. Love yourself even more through your ‘oops’ moments and forgive yourself and continue on. Give your body what it needs, you are worth it.
*This entry is written solely from personal experience.