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How Dieting Turned Me Into a Binge Eater

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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

You're doing great all week, staying at the low end of your calorie range and hitting the gym almost daily when, BAM!, you go totally off the rails and binge. And it's no ordinary binge. It's a big one. One thousand, two thousand calories or more in one sitting. Then you're filled with guilt, sadness and remorse knowing that you've just undone all of your hard work in one sitting with food that you don't even really like all that much and definitely weren't savoring when you were in the throes of your binge passion.

This was the anatomy of my binges back when I was a yo-yo dieter. The ironic thing was that I wasn't a binge eater when I was overweight. I simply overate. What I came to realize in my recent weight loss and now maintenance efforts is that my idea of what it meant to be on a diet actually turned me into a binge eater. I learned that I can only be restrictive for so long before my body starts crying out for more food until I reach a point of no return and eat anything and everything in sight. As a result, I often had great short-term weight loss success followed by almost instantaneous regain because I just couldn't sustain the effort I had made while I was losing in the long term.

Although I can point to a lot of different factors that have led to my success this time around, I think my awareness of this problem has guided me to an approach that is proving to be instrumental in my long-term success. As I was losing weight, I learned that I have a magic number and a magic combination. In weight-loss mode that magic number was 1,300 with one more liberal day a week for a planned splurge meal. If I was consistently below that level, I would inevitably binge and undo all of the great progress I thought I was making. In the end, giving myself some extra calories every day plus the freedom to eat more one day a week without guilt was worth it because my binges BY FAR outweighed the savings I banked by being more restrictive. So, in the end, eating more calories led to more weight loss for me and has translated into successful maintenance. I think recognizing and dealing with this problem has been a big key in managing my binges. They're much fewer and farther between than they were in my previous efforts and I am finally successfully maintaining after years of yo-yo dieting, which were marked by periods of being too restrictive followed by periods of eating with reckless abandon.

I know that my strategy won't work for everyone, but if you are suffering from the heartbreaking pattern of binge-eating, please know that there is hope and that you can overcome this. It's so encouraging to see that other people are doing the same and I hope that one day, every person on SparkPeople can truly live a binge-free life.
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