It's finally time to admit that I have a binge eating disorder.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

First, a story...

My husband had clear IBS symptoms for several years before he ever considered seeing a doctor. He always attributed the symptoms to other things (like lactose intolerance), or he just assumed that everyone dealt with these issues and kept quiet about it. Eventually, the symptoms were bad enough that he decided to see a doctor. The doctor couldn't believe he had been suffering for so long on his own, and it's been totally under control for years now thanks to some simple medication and slight lifestyle changes.

Why is this relevant? Well, this week I finally admitted to myself that I have binge eating disorder. Maybe it should have been obvious, but everything finally became clear to me this week. It's not just cravings. It's not just a "bad relationship" with food. It's not something that everyone else deals with. It's a disorder, and I've decided to see a mental health professional about it.

Even though I've had this issue since I was a teenager, I had it under control for awhile. When I started using SparkPeople, the accountability of tracking kept me from bingeing for a long time. Every time I've had a successful bout of weight loss, it's been because I stopped bingeing. Every time the weight started to creep back on, it was because I started bingeing again. Lately the episodes have become extremely frequent. It went from every now and then in very stressful situations, to every time my husband was out of the apartment, to every time he was in the shower or taking out the trash. I hate it and I never WANT to do it, but it's a seemingly uncontrollable urge.

The situation is not good. It really never has been. And lately, despite the exercise and the well-planned, well-intentioned meals, the bingeing is crippling my healthy lifestyle.

The crazy thing is that I've managed to hide this from my husband for almost 9 years now. We've lived together for about 5 of those years, so that really took some doing. At first, he didn't seem to think it was a big deal... after all, I don't secretly stop and buy fast food on the way home or eat entire pints of Ben & Jerry's or anything like that. I'm not morbidly obese. How could I have an eating disorder? The more I told him, though, the more he's realized that I'm really not ok. Suddenly all these seemingly isolated incidents in our past make a lot more sense to him now. (Like the time I ate an entire Costco jar of Nutella and he actually caught me... "I thought you really just liked Nutella!" lol)

It was REALLY hard to confess some of my worst episodes to him, especially the ones that involved sneaking around and telling him lies of omission (i.e. eating an entire bag of chocolate chips and then pretending we never had one in the first place... and counting on his bad memory to get by). He's been extremely supportive, though, and he really wants to help me get better. Just having it out in the open with him has been TREMENDOUSLY cathartic, and honestly, I haven't felt to urge to binge in 4 days now. What's the point? It's not a secret anymore. It's lost a lot of power already.

Since I admitted this to my husband (and myself!) and started trying to schedule a visit with a psychologist, I have felt incredibly relieved. I had read that extreme restriction and dieting can lead to binge episodes, but honestly, I was secretly eating entire jars of Nutella while my husband and I were still ordering burgers, fries, and donut sundaes for dinner, so I don't think this has to do with my focus on healthy eating.

That said, I do need to ease up a little. There's no point in tracking a 1200 calorie day if I'm binge eating 700 calories worth of crap. (Bingeing on relatively innocuous things like protein bars, chocolate chips, peanut butter, granola, etc. adds up!) I'm way better off giving myself permission to eat a little more during the day (especially more fruit, since it staves off the sugar cravings). That's been working really well for me for the past few days. I think that might be the answer for me.

Anyway, sorry for writing a book, but I really had to get this off my chest. The more people I tell, the better I feel! I've felt so ashamed for so long that my initial reaction to the realization was, "No one can know!!", but every confession seems to lighten the load. Aside from my husband, my mother knows, one of my best friends knows, and the exercise bulimia friend knows. So far that's it, but I'm looking forward to telling my other close friends soon.

And now there are all of you too. Thanks for that. emoticon

P.S. If anyone else out there thinks they may be suffering from this, here's a pretty good description of the symptoms, etc:
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Good for you for coming clean and for getting the help you need to get through this. I've done the "food sneaking" as well and know how awful it feels. I remember my husband being shocked when I would say that I needed to get my eating under control after a binge. It's no wonder--he really had no idea just how much I was eating because I would never do it in front of him. To him, what I ate seemed normal.

    Anyway, I'm so glad to hear that you've taken this important step. I hope your bingeing days will soon be over for good!
    1777 days ago
    Thank you for sharing! I am positive that your experiences with binge eating disorder strike a chord with many of us here-- I know it does for me! There are certain foods that I just can't keep in the house because I can't control myself around them (i.e. chocolate chips, granola), and I don't like it. At all.

    Congratulations on taking the first steps to get yourself well; you're very brave
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1779 days ago
    I'm so proud of you for coming clean not only with your husband but to yourself as well. That's a big step. I'm happy that your husband is so supportive; hopefully, with lots of love and the appointments, you'll overcome this. emoticon
    1781 days ago
  • LISA1101
    That took a TREMENDOUS amount of courage to "come out" to your husband. You are very brave and have a great hubby!! emoticon
    1781 days ago
    Oh, I'm in tears reading this. "Every confession lightens the load" - I'm so glad you have a supportive husband who loves you just as you are. I'm also really glad you have identified the problem and you are going to deal with it. I've suffered from depression for years and the shame of 'not being normal' can really hinder progress. It takes a lot of courage to ask for help - I'm so proud of you.

    1781 days ago
    It is an extremely brave thing to admit not all is well - I'm glad you are getting support from your nearest and dearest but also from a mental health professional.

    Take care emoticon
    1781 days ago
    Thanks for sharing. I used to do it too. Take care of yourself. I'm glad you're getting help for it. emoticon emoticon
    1781 days ago
  • MOLLI15
    How brave of you to admit what you are battling with to yourself, your husband, and your community (ies). You will beat this! We are all here for you, but most importantly, with the help and support of others, you will find the strength and power within yourself.
    1782 days ago
    Kudos to you for being honest with yourself. And another Kudos for putting it out here on Spark People. I think there are many people here on this community who may suffer from this same issue and never want to admit it themselves. I mean, if we can eat a whole pint of ice cream, but pretend it didn't happen and our loved ones don't know, than it's okay. It's not but admitting that you have the problem is the first step to finding ways to overcome it. I am proud of you for seeking professional help. Many people would not do that and then they suffer their whole lifetime.

    1782 days ago
    Being truely honest with yourself and especially with you husband is a true step towards healing.

    Check out this lady's You tube videos called Weight Loss Apocolypse

    She has dealt with some of the same stuff and helps lot of people going through the same this as you (including me).

    Take care.
    1782 days ago
    Girl, me too.

    My weight goes up and down when I'm having trouble controlling it. My worst times are when I am tired and have trouble thinking clearly and when I am feeling sad and/or depressed. It is still something I struggle with every day. Just try not to beat yourself up and do the best you can. And you're right, being honest about it, especially with people close to you is the best thing you can do. Try not to keep trigger foods in the house. Sometimes knowing I'd have to leave the house to buy something is enough to dissuade me from breaking a good cycle of not bingeing.

    If you ever need support or just someone to talk to, I'm here!

    1782 days ago
  • HOPE541
    I'm so proud of you for taking the courage to admit the problems that have been hindering you from the success you deserve. I'm even more proud that your husband is so supportive of you. I pray for your success and I hope that you'll be able to get to the root of whatever it is that triggers these moments. You can conquer this just don't give up.
    emoticon emoticon

    1782 days ago
    It took me a very long time to admit I had one too, and some days I still am fighting it but I've gotten a handle on mine currently. I started taking 5HTP (controls appetite) and phentermine and it serially helped control my binging, my problem was after I lost all my weight (I never binged before), my appetite when haywire. I wanted to eat 24/7 bc I wanted to taste the food and was always wanting to eat.

    When I binged, I got a bag of crap or sometimes healthy stuff and hid in my room and ate it in 15 minutes. I'm talking like 2000 calories a day doing that hence, why I gained back 78lbs. I never quit exercising which also proves eating is more mportant in weightloss than exercise.

    I will be keeping you in my thoughts. I know where you are coming from and it's a hard battle, mentally for sure. I knew what I was doing and wanted to stop but couldn't seem to resist the temptation.
    1782 days ago
    Well, since I am reading your blog while eating chocolate chips and watching the family playing in the backyard so I know no one will "see" me eating them, I might have the same issue.... I just don't know where to start with therapy, and I live in a rather small town so don't want everyone to know, you know???
    Bah!!!! I probably need to do something, because I have been bingeing even more than "normal" lately, and it's getting out of control.
    1782 days ago
    I've been there, too. Each day is another chance to do better. You an do it. Glad you are getting help. Great success to you!
    1782 days ago
    I've been a binger since I was 11. I'm not overweight, but I binge on healthy foods and then exercise a ton. Anyway, I say all of this because I completely empathize with your pain and struggle. The best I did was this summer when I went over 100 days without binging. Like you, I only lose weight when I go for a long time without binging. My husband was diagnosed with cancer in November and that is when my months binge free came to an end.

    I think upping your calories a bit is a great idea, in general.

    I recently started reading "brain over binge" by Kathryn Hensen - it's a very very different way of dealing with BED and I'm finding it really enlightening. She has a blog as well.

    Anyway, would love to be sp friends and help each other be accountable. My goal is to be binge free until 4/16, my husband's next chemo treatment (I mean I want to be binge free forever, but will start small).
    1782 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/7/2013 4:11:12 PM
    I'm so glad your husband is supportive - it makes a huge difference and will help you get over this. I'm also glad that you finally realized what was holding you back from achieving what you wanted. It is one step closer to success now. Keep up the reflection - and making positive steps in the right direction. You are doing awesome.

    Keep up the good work - you deserve it!

    1782 days ago
    Thanks for sharing
    1782 days ago
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