My Experience With Binge Eating
Recently I filmed a video stream on Instagram opening up about my personal experiences with Binge eating.
The response was overwhelming and unexpected. People I have known for years, work colleagues who I saw daily and complete strangers started messaging me.
All responding with their own experiences with the same issues.
Suddenly I did not feel alone anymore and realised I was part of a larger group dealing with binge eating issues.
People of all ages are affected by this disorder and have limited choices to discover why.
So opening up about my issues, even if one person were to benefit reading this blog post and gain a new understanding it would make me feel I have achieved something by sharing. My story starts with the development of a binge eating disorder and how I managed to find a way to finally put a stop to this destructive lifestyle.
If you would be interested in reading the full version of my journey there is a longer more detailed blog post available.
After years of yo-yo dieting and self-image issues, I finally managed to understand and gain control leading to dramatic changes in my life.
Managing to shed nearly four stone, created ‘a new me’ but with the ability to enjoy all types of food.
In the beginning, food was not the most important factor, It was simply food.
After my weight loss, I took a course in personal training and started working in a gym.
This was an incredible experience but I still had some negatives thoughts and challenging requirements working in a gym.
I taught fitness classes to large groups of mainly women and being stood at the front of the room, with all eyes on me put me under pressure and made me feel as if I had to look like I was physically perfect and worthy to do my job.
I still did not think that way about myself.
Although I had lost a considerable amount of weight at this point in my life I found myself becoming obsessed trying to lose more.
It was becoming much more difficult.
What is evident in most cases that after extreme weight loss, your body can plateau, so trying to lose more weight is challenging.
Unfortunately, that was one of the main reasons that I turned into a calorie counting robot.
I downloaded the much talked about app My Fitness Pal.
After entering my stats the app suggested that should be eating 1250 calories per day.
Bare in my mind, I was training hard and at this point as well as teaching over ten fitness classes per week.
At first, I enjoyed using the app, it starting feeling like a game trying to control my calories each day. However, after a short time calorie counting was affecting my positive state of mind and made me start doubting all the milestones I had achieved.
I felt the app encouraged me to completely obsess over keeping to that ridiculously low amount of calories each and every day.
My life began to revolve around it.
I started making excuses to skip meals with family and friends.
I was obsessed with tracking every single thing I put in my mouth, even measuring to the gram of spinach in my salads.
Going slightly over my daily allowance would make me feel extreme guilt.
I attribute this feeling of continuous guilt to why my binge eating episodes began.
I became anxious and depressed, and most sadly became nervous around food.
I had lost all sense of normality when it came to my diet and realistically looking back was miserable.
If one day I went only a 100 calories over my daily allowance, I would feel so bad that it triggered something in me, the F**k it all feeling.
I would binge.
What is a Binge and what does it feel like?
A binge for me would usually last between 30 minutes and sometimes continue for 2hours.
My binges occurred more at night and usually, it would be when I was alone.
Having a binge would make me feel almost like my body had been possessed and I could not fight or control it.
I would eat large quantities of high-calorie foods or whatever food I could find in the fridge or cupboard and for some unknown reason, I would usually eat extremely quickly.
It was almost like I was trying to not give my brain enough time to think rationally about what I was doing.
I think many people associate the word binging with ‘unhealthy’.
Someone who has never experienced an actual binge may think that eating a large pizza would classify as one. Strangely when I binged I mostly wouldn't even eat "unhealthy" foods, It was more about eating whatever I could find until I felt uncomfortably full.
Binge foods could look like bowls of cornflakes, spoons of peanut butter or literally eating chunks of cheese.
I would keep going back for more food until I felt physically sick and bloated.
Some mornings I would wake up with the urge to binge and spend my day anxiously trying to push the thoughts away. I inevitably would give in to the urge just to get rid of the anxious feelings that would accompany binge eating only to feel worse afterwards.
Feeling guilty over eating something "unhealthy" or going over my calories was probably one of my biggest issues and would usually be one of the triggers pre binge.
Binging felt like I had given myself permission to indulge on all the food I knew was 'off-limits' until I went back to the diet restrictions the next day.
When calorie counting (using MFP) if you go over your daily calories then the numbers show up as a negative and change from green to red.
For some reason even seeing the colour change to red also acted as a trigger.
I felt like I had already failed before I started. Therefore punishing
myself by going on a binge again.
The morning after a binge I would always wake feeling horrible about myself.
I would try not to eat or eat as little as possible to counteract the damage I had caused.
Going to the gym and trying to do as much cardio as possible to make me feel better about myself became a priority after a binge episode.
I would usually feel extremely upset not only that I had binged and felt bloated but also the feeling of disappointment and shame in my lack of self-control. I would describe binging as a form of self-harm, as that is how it felt to me.
After months of research trying to find answers.
I started looking into different therapies, read countless articles of how other people dealt with this disorder and watched countless youtube videos of peoples personal experiences.
Podcasts and audiobooks were also good sources of information. A turning point was when I came across a book called Brain Over Binge written by Kathryn Hansen.
I have not binged in three months and do not fear binge eating anymore.
Kathryn's own experience with binge eating was so relatable I found myself literally agreeing with her out loud! The book was super interesting and gave an amazing insight on how to stop binge eating.
I decided to put a firm stop to calorie counting.
I sometimes feel tempted to calorie count again but I know it is not good for my sanity.
Just to clarify calorie counting can be a useful tool for many people.
I did learn about what macronutrients were in my foods and about portion size while calorie counting. So that is a plus I suppose.
However for the small minority of people who either are more prone to addictive behaviour or already have a strange relationship with food I highly recommend avoiding calorie counting at all costs! The year before I found the book I was convinced that calorie counting was the only way I would lose weight even though I had already lost 4 stone without knowing what it was in the first place.
Going forwards I will put no restrictions on any food or eating habits and eat sensibly as much as my body needed.
Yes, I will probably relapse from time to time but this does not worry me and every day I feel I am gaining a stronger understanding and relationship with food.
I promise you even though it seems completely impossible you can stop binge eating!
Food should not be feared, it should be enjoyed and most importantly used for its sole purpose of fueling our bodies.
I do still have days where I struggle or have self-image worries.
Although if I had not gone through this experience I would be none the wiser.
If you would like to share your story or have a chat with me about your experiences, I would love to hear!
Please leave a comment below or find me on Instagram @healthylivingellie. You can also find me on Pinterest where you and come back to read this at any point
I hope you can take something positive away from reading this blog.
To read this post in full click here.
I will be posting more soon!