Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Secret Life of a Binger

February 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Binge Eating

This guest post is from Love2EatinPA, an anomomous blogger who shares her secrets at Confessions of a Complusive Eater, with the tagline “you are only as sick as your secrets. We have not dug into binge eating on WATRD, so I hope this post will open the door for conversation. – mamaV

We are your family, your friends, your co-workers and people that you see out on the street.   We come in all shapes and sizes – tall, short, overweight, underweight.  You often cannot tell by looking at us that we are addicted to food and that we eat things in secret where no one else can see us.

A binge can be brought on by just about anything – a good day, a bad day, a way to celebrate just about anything, boredom, needing love and attention.  Absolutely anything can be twisted to justify a binge.

I should know, I’ve been a binge eater since I was about 9 or 10 years old.

I didn’t realize that I had an eating disorder until a little over two years ago.  I thought I just had a sweet tooth.  It wasn’t until the idea of compulsive overeating popped into my head one night in late December of 2007.  I went to my laptop and started googling and found Overeaters Anonymous.  They have a section for newcomers that say something like “Are you one of us?” and I answered yes to most of the questions.

The reality that I had an eating disorder was both an immense relief but also a source of shame.

I totally spilled my guts to my husband, which was a huge catharsis.  I cried gallons of tears for days.  I immediately got myself to a therapist and started to go to OA meetings.  Fortunately, I was already someone who worked out regularly. So while my 5’3” frame did get up to 172 pounds at one point, I’m positive it would have been more had I not always been exercising in one form or another.

I learned in therapy that my sickness began as child.  I did not have a close relationship with anyone on my family and I looked to food for love, nurturing and comfort.  My mother unknowingly perpetuated the disorder by hiding things like double stuff Oreos from me because she knew that I wouldn’t eat my share and leave enough for the rest of the family to enjoy.  I didn’t know it at the time, but she was giving me a message – I was not to be trusted around sweets.

When I was a tween, I would walk to the supermarket around the corner and buy things like ½ lb bags of m&m’s, bring it home and eat the entire bag in one sitting while no one else was home.  I would take the empty packaging, put it back into the supermarket bag and then stuff it under items already in the trashcan because I didn’t want anyone to see the empty bag and perhaps question me.

I really didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.  I enjoyed the candy, cake or ice cream, or whatever I bought, very much.  I did put on weight, but because I was into sports, I didn’t gain as much as I easily could have.

When I got older and lived with other people prior to marrying my husband, the sneaking of food continued.  I would be “good” during the week, but as the week went on I would make a list of the things I would buy and eat over the weekend.  I would make multiple stops at bakeries, fast food restaurants, the supermarket, you name it.  I would live for these weekends.  For special occasions like my birthday, I would make my food list months in advance and continue to add to it until the ‘special’ day arrived.

I would eat some of the foods in front of others, but certainly not all of it.  I didn’t want anyone to see me eating all of it, nor did I want to share any of it.

Even after meeting my wonderful husband over 15 years ago and subsequently giving birth to two healthy children, my bingeing continued.  When we entertained, I couldn’t wait until everyone left so I could gorge myself on the leftover desserts.  I was more into the food that people brought than socializing.  I often flurried around the kitchen taking note of how quickly certain foods were moving so that I could swoop in and have some if it looked like something really good was going to be totally eaten.

I couldn’t fathom how people could take say, a piece of chocolate cake, eat only half and then throw the rest away.  (I even today still don’t understand how people can do that. Old thoughts die hard!).  When no-one was looking, I have eaten leftover food out of the sink or sickeningly enough, out of the trash can.  If I wanted a particular something, was obsessed with having it, there was no stopping me from eating it.

It didn’t matter that I felt totally sick, that the waistband of my pants were totally digging into my stomach, I was driven by some sick frenzied feeling to keep stuffing my face with food.  Once again, it was usually when I was alone.

I would also do a lot of my bingeing at house parties or more special affairs like weddings or bar/bat mitzvahs when there was a buffet, especially of desserts.  I would not even be able to focus on having a conversation with a friend or relative if there was a buffet of dessert out.  All I thought about was getting back to the food table, only half listening to the conversation I was having.

There were certainly times when I would eat large amounts in front of others, but I would always make sure to say something like – “I’m pms’ing” or “My gosh, this is so good I just can’t stop myself!”  I had to make up a reason, because after all, it really wasn’t proper for me to stuff my face like that.

So here I am, a little over two years later. I haven’t binged in over two years. I weigh the lowest I have ever weighed as an adult.   I’m happy with my recovery.  I like what I see when I look in the mirror and I like how I feel.  I count my calories, weigh and measure food.  So my compulsive behaviors are certainly continuing, I’m a work in progress.

I only recently stopped getting on the scale every day.  Through therapy and blogging, I have learned new awareness and have been growing as a person.  I have recently began listening to my hunger cues instead of just eating because I have the calories to eat. Every day is still a struggle to some degree, but thankfully, most days are easier rather than harder.  But the hard ones, when the compulsive overeater voices are louder than normal, are tough.

It sucks to think that I will never have a normal relationship with food.  I am doing my best to get as close as possible, but like an alcoholic can be sober for 20 years, he is still an alcoholic. So I try my best to live one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time, in hopes to remain binge-free.  I’m afraid that If I fall off the wagon, it will be that much harder to get back on it.  That Is what OA veterans say and that scares me.  It would be SO easy to go back to bingeing, but I’m fighting it every step of the way.


27 Responses to “The Secret Life of a Binger”
  1. Cassie says:

    Binge eating disorder is so commonly ignored as an eating disorder and not many people even know about. It was great to see a blog post about this. As someone who struggles with bulimia I can relate to these experiences of binge eating.

    • love2eatinpa says:

      it felt good to let it all out in such a supportive atmosphere.

      • vkat says:

        Thanks so much for this article. I recognize myself in you. I just ran a half-marathon, I work out pretty regularly, I have a great job and a handsome boyfriend…yet food is my best friend. Sometimes I can’t wait for my bf to leave so I can be alone with my food. I’ve been trying to find help – friends don’t understand, even saying things like “you’re so thin!” (which I’m not); I’ve looked into OA; not for me. I’m going to try my EAP next, I just need the courage to make that call.

        • love2eatinpa says:

          ‘normal’ eaters just don’t understand. my husband supports me, but he has no idea what goes on in my head.
          therapy has been fabulous for me. i hope your EAP turns up some choices for you.
          also, they say you need to go to six OA meetings to find one that is right for you. just a thought… 🙂

    • lissa10279 says:

      What a great post, thanks for sharing! I don’t struggle with binge eating so much as binge-buying …and I have to throw out food quite a bit. Even now, even this far into my recovery journey. But your post was super-relatable … thanks for sharing.

      • love2eatinpa says:

        thanks, melissa. that’s a whole new concept to me – binge buying and then subsequently having to throw it out. man, there are so many facets to disordered eating, it’s just crazy.

  2. sunnytropic says:

    Thanks for sharing your story; I could have written a similar post. Like you used to I “sneak” food and eat more in private than around other people, or if I did always had excuses ready. I have gotten a bit of a handle on it but still have a ways to go. I lost 107 lbs and was within 8 lbs of my “goal” weight before gaining 15 back almost immediately. I have maintained that 92 lb loss for about 6 months and hope to drop the last 20/25 lbs soon. I think it will always be a struggle but I’ve come so far! And so have you! Thanks again!

  3. love2eatinpa says:

    thanks so much, mamav, for allowing me to post on this awesome blog!

  4. Karen says:

    thanks for sharing and giving insight into Binge Disorder & recovery.

  5. julie says:

    This makes my head spin. My mom called me fat, hid potato chips from me, like I wouldn’t find them. I’d get up in middle of the night when everyone was asleep, make huge meals of cream of chicken soup, tater tots, bread/cheese, fried potatoes. I had a friend, we’d go to 3-4 restaurants in a row, eat a whole meal at each. In college, I’d eat 2 bagels with lox spread as an appetizer, pick up a burrito for lunch, ice cream for dessert. A bit different than most bingers as in it was mostly savory rather than sweet, and I didn’t usually eat very quickly, and wasn’t super-extreme. Bike riding and walking for transportation kept me from getting too big. The highest recorded weight that I remember is 213, much higher than the 147 I am now.

    I haven’t binged in years, either. I do overeat, pms/holidays/whatever, but it’s much much different, I don’t let emotions in there, so there’s no frenzy and guilt, just a mildly full belly.

  6. Sagan says:

    Every time I read your blog posts, I just feel an immense amount of relief that someone else is writing this, that someone is sharing their thoughts about this and spreading awareness about it and not making me feel as though I’m alone in my struggles to deal with food issues. You give me courage.

    I had major disordered eating issues last week but I was really proud that I was able to tell the boyfriend about it- and that he is being immensely supportive and helpful in assisting me to prevent relapses. Acknowledging our problems is so important.

    • love2eatinpa says:

      i’m so glad that you can relate.
      i agree, it is so nice to feel as though we are not alone. for instance, i was shocked when i went to OA meetings to see that there were so many people who had the same problem as i do. i had thought it was just me! i’m still a little astounded at how prevalent eating disorders are via the blogosphere. it’s sad that we all suffer from this, but there is strength in our community.
      i really feel strongly about the tagline on my blog – you are only as sick as your secrets. i think it’s so important to be able to get it off your chest because keeping it mushed down inside of us is not helpful.

  7. Katelyn says:

    I had anorexia and as soon as I started eating more again I went straight to binging to deal with my problems. Because my metabolism was so fast from being starved, I didn’t gain much weight at first, so my treatment team was still treating me for the anorexia, even when I told them I was struggling with BED. I had to quit therapy because I couldn’t handle it. It was so frustrating to me. I struggled through and over time and by the grace of God, I got to where I am today: Binge free, though I still sometimes eat past full, it is nothing, nothing like a binge.

  8. Candice says:

    Wow, thanks for writing this. I can totally relate and it feels good to have someone put it into words. I think it was probably only in my late 20s/early 30s that I realized that the eating habits I had as a child, teen, and young adult amounted to binge eating. I would also sneak food at home, eat in the middle of the night, and eat a meal alone before eating a meal with other people. For so long I had no idea that this was a quantifiable problem – I just thought I was fat and a glutton, period – that I just had no self control and was a bad, lazy person.

    I think I read that binge eating is being considered for addition to the DSM V as its own separate disorder (I’m not positive, but I think I read that). It’s about time this is treated as a problem on its own, without having to be a part of another issue.

    • love2eatinpa says:

      you are lucky to have realized so early that you had an eating disorder. stupid me, it took until i was almost 40. better late than never though, huh?
      wow, interesting that binge eating is being considered as it’s own category. i think it definitely deserves it’s own ‘spot.’

  9. Francesca says:

    Thank you so much for your honesty. This post really spoke to me.

  10. wow! you are so brave for writing such an honest blog & post. i really hope that the stigma associated with binge eating can start to fade now that so many women and men are talking candidly about their struggles.

  11. love2eatinpa says:

    it would be great if the stigma would fade. it is sadly so prevalent.

  12. Congratulations on your excellent post and the very nice guest spot! As always, your honesty touches a deep chord in all of us. Thank you and keep up the good work!


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] Somehow I’ve been lucky enough to be guest blogging on two amazing websites last night/today – Eating Journey and We Are The Real Deal […]

  2. […] We Are the Real Deal (WATRD). I wrote about my secret life as a binge eater. You can read the post here at We Are the Real Deal or below. I am so grateful that such an amazing website would want a post […]

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