The Secret Life of a Binger
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.