A few weeks ago I opened up about my long-time battle with Binge Eating Disorder. I figured I’d talk a bit more about it now that it’s National Eating Disorders Awareness week.
This post is just a very small glimpse into what I’ve dealt with while struggling with BED. It would be a novel if I wrote down every single thing I experienced and went through.
Binge Eating Disorder is not just overeating like on Thanksgiving. It’s not having one too many cookies or pieces of pizza and feeling really full. It’s abusing food when dealing with difficult feelings. It’s hoarding and hiding food, and scarfing it down in private when these tough feelings arise. It’s then feeling so bad and guilty about yourself and what and how you just ate. I remember one time I felt so guilty about what I had just done that I literally was tempted to climb into my dark closet, close the door, and stay there. Luckily, Kyle came home when I had these feelings and I told him everything.
I abused food for many, many years and hid it because well, for the longest time I had no idea what was wrong with me or why I was doing it.
You may be thinking, “Ok, what do you mean you ‘abused food’?” For me, it felt like an out-of-body experience. Let’s say I was feeling extremely upset about Robert’s passing. I got upset, felt like I was blacking out and floating out of my body, ate anything “bad” that I could get my hands on for 10-15 minutes (for me, binges only lasted that long), and then suddenly I would “come to” and snap back into reality and see the damage I had done. I would see all the empty wrappers on the counter, the empty bowls and plates, and think to myself, “What the heck did I just do?”. My stomach would be shooting with pain because I had eaten so much. Then, as you may guess, I felt really bad about it. Now I was still feeling upset (or whatever feeling it was) AND bad about myself because I had just eaten an absurd amount of food in just a few minutes.
Hiding food, Elizabeth? Like you actually hid food? Yes. I hid food. I hid it where I thought no one would find it. And no one did find it. And when I was experiencing difficult feelings, it was right there waiting for me.
The foods I binged on were foods I told myself were “bad”. Cereal, cookies, granola bars, muffins, bread… See a trend? Carbs.
So how did I lose 25 lb while dealing with BED? When I wasn’t having an “episode” I had no problem eating well. Healthy eating made me feel good, more energetic, more confident, and of course, made me a better runner. It’s when I felt very stressed or upset, or even if I dropped something and it broke, that something (the ED) would take over my mind and shift my mentality. Then, after the binge, I would swear off all the food I binged on (didn’t work) and continue on with my day. Though sometimes I felt like I had “ruined” the healthy day with my binge so I’d just eat badly until the next day and start fresh then.
I finally reached out for professional help and have been working with a dietician. The progress I’ve seen within myself makes me proud, but I still feel I have a ways to go. I now have methods to deal with difficult feelings instead of turning to food. I feel like food doesn’t control my thoughts 24/7 anymore. And that is very, very freeing and something I have wanted for so long.