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Binge Eating

Friday, August 09, 2013

Have you seen those “I lost weight” success stories on the Huffington Post? I’ve been reading a lot of them lately and drawing inspiration from peoples’ stories. But I’ve noticed many people saying things along the lines of “I used to eat an entire large pizza and two liters of regular cola for dinner, but I never knew that was a bad thing.”

Really? Because I’m skeptical. Oh, not about how much they ate. I know that’s possible from personal experience (more about that in a minute!) but did they really not know that eating an entire family size pizza in one sitting is not a good idea?

I grew up in the 60’s and in my family of origin, we didn’t know anything about nutrition. The “clean plate club” was enforced and all vegetables were drenched in melted butter. Salads were swimming in bottled dressing and there was bread and dessert at every meal (well, there was no dessert at breakfast, but the cereal had so much sugar that there might as well have been). Sometimes my father would say “let’s be daring” which meant cutting the entire pie or cake into four pieces and serving one to each of us.

Still, by the time I was an adult, I knew that wasn’t healthy eating. So I tend to be skeptical when people say they didn’t know that eating fast food three times a day was not a good thing. And if some of you truly didn’t know, please accept my apologies for doubting you. I’m not trying to offend you, I’m just trying to say that my problem was a little different: I knew that what I was doing was bad for my health, but I did it anyway.

It is time for me to come clean about my eating. I am being honest with you so that I can be honest with myself. Because I have never really admitted to myself that I am somewhat of a binge eater. Most of the time I eat pretty well, but then every once in a while I just go crazy. Here are some examples.

Yes, I have eaten an entire half gallon of ice cream. Not that often, but part of my brain still tells me that a pint of Ben & Jerry’s is a single serving.

I have also eaten an entire family size pizza on more than one occasion, and in college I once ate an entire large package of Oreos. Even after joining SparkPeople, I have found myself on a binge and going through the drive-through at McDonald’s and ordering TWO extra value meals. Even as I did it, I knew it was wrong and I was ashamed. I would order two different meals with two different drinks in the hope that the server wouldn’t realize that they were both for me. More about the shame factor in a moment.

I am often pretty good when the food is packaged, but watch out once it is opened. The 8 oz. block of cheese can sit in the fridge for a week, but as soon as it is opened, it is gone.

I subscribed to the theory that if nobody sees or knows that I ate something it doesn’t count. This is particularly true with ice cream. My wife is one of those amazing people who can open a pint of ice cream and just have one scoop. I frequently would finish the rest of the pint and then think “oh, no, she’s going to know and she’ll be mad at me.” Some of you already know what I would do then, because you’ve been there yourselves, am I right? So I drove to the store, bought a replacement pint, and ate it down to the same level that the original pint was. Then I’d stick it back in the freezer.

It was a problem when I couldn’t find the same flavor. Once I drove to three different places in an ultimately failed attempt to find the flavor I had just polished off. Another time I was successful in finding a replacement pint, but dropped the receipt as I got out of the car and my wife found it!

I can laugh at myself, now. The shame is gone because I have made some real changes in the way I eat. But I’m worried too because I feel that tendency to binge is still a part of my psyche and I have to figure out why that is, if I am going to be successful in the long term.

Thanks for listening.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    693 days ago
    I can so relate to your story! As an example, I remember as a child, sneaking a handful of chocolate chips out of the cupboard and hiding in my room to eat them. I wonder how the guilt associates with our binging. I know that one I admitted to my spouse, my kids, my co-workers and friends about my sneak eating and binging on large quantities, it became easier to control it. Yes, I do still have binges, but I continue working on the problem and find that admitting it, forgiving it and moving on immediately, the incidents are fewer, longer between and involve either less quantity or binging on healthier items. Until SP, I thought I was the only one who did this, and just knowing that others struggle with binging has helped me deal with it.
    1725 days ago
    This is hilarious, because it's so true!!
    1725 days ago
  • DMB4500
    Your honesty and clarity is refreshing.
    1737 days ago
  • GR8KATE41
    I am the same way about the "if nobody sees it, it didn't happen" but usually with tracking. In my past efforts of weight loss I always felt like "If I don't type it in, it didn't count." I also relate to having a spouse who has built in portion control. My husband lost thirty pounds in just a few months this year and we have a VERY hard time discussing weight loss because his brain isn't wired for binge or emotional eating. Frustrating, but it really makes me realize this is an emotional challenge as much as a physical challenge!! Glad to see your success emoticon emoticon
    1743 days ago
    well I get the impression you've been doing something right!

    say, have you ever heard of the guy who nourished himself only from the golden arches, then sued the company because of his bad health????
    1746 days ago
    Sounds very familiar.
    1746 days ago
    A very interesting blog...glad you wrote. I miss your blogs. When I binge, I graze, so I've never had the shame of eating a whole pizza or a pint of ice cream or a sleeve of cookies or a bag of chips. I just have smaller portions of all three, right in a row, followed or accompanied by beer. Yikes!

    1746 days ago
    I too grew up in the clean your plate world of the 50.s and 60s.. I would never eat veggies dripping in butter today...what was my mom thinking...LOL well it was the way we ate. But yes at some point everyone would know when the are eating too much of something that is unhealthy.
    We all find ways to lie or trick ourselves into making ok to over eat and try to hide it. Me too, I use to eat so much pizza it is ridiculous.
    So glad we have grown and have learned to be kinder to ourselves.

    Hugs and smiles
    1746 days ago
    This is so true. I remember eating a whole bag of frozen Snickers minis I'd bought for Halloween in about three days time and buying not one..but three! replacement bags to replace what I ate....

    I think some of the information I read about is obscene regarding the quantities of stuff people eat. Mine was more of the binge variety, which is bad enough.

    I too have learned to admit it, forgive it, learn from it, move past it and release it. A clean slate is a beautiful thing.
    1747 days ago
    Even when it's not extreme quantities, I know when I am eating more than I should or things that I shouldn't eat. Eating alone and disposing of the evidence is unhealthy eating, marked by shame and denial. I did it last night, that's why I am here today reading & posting. I don't want one night to turn into two or more!
    1747 days ago
    I agree, they had to know that eating the whole pizza wasn't good for them, I think they are trying to get away from reality! I think we have all eaten way too much of bad stuff from time to time. When I was first on my own, I decided I could do whatever I wanted and got a package of double stuff Oreos and ate almost the whole package! Before that I had drank a few beers, not a good combo! To say the least I learned a lesson and can't stand double stuff Oreo's anymore!

    if people can't see you eat it, you still get all the calories, if a cookie is broken it is not void of calories either (my excuse). If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is there, it still makes a loud noise!

    Finding the trigger for binge eating can be hard. Hope that during your long walks getting all those steps, you have a moment of clarity and find the trigger and ways to combat it!

    Good luck, and remember to forgive yourself if you err! Every time you resist you get stronger, and through that strength, you will find victory!
    1747 days ago
    I so get what you are saying here. I've never quite got to the point of going and buying a replacement but I'm careful to make sure what I'm splurging on is mine. I think the fear of someone else finding out reins me in a bit... maybe?

    I took this class at UofM a few years ago. The book is wonderful. I really learned a lot about myself and my eating habits. I'm a book nut so forgive me if you are not. It might help you sort thru some things. Just a thought...


    1747 days ago
  • DO4FIT
    I hear you. You are definitely not alone in this battle.
    1747 days ago
    Yup. Been there. I have found it very important to

    1. Forgive myself
    2. learn from it
    3. Start over beginning right now.

    1747 days ago
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