I’m reaching out because I went from hardly eating anything at all to eating as much as I wanted until I gained back 10+ Pounds. The only reason I started eating is because I learned about macros and that caused me to think eating certain amounts was ok. Now I find that even if I eat meals (typically after dinner is the worst time) that I’m still wanting to eat and I’ll eat a lot. Then I’ll eat things like a whole box of cereal or granola and chocolate chips and feel very sick and bloated before I go to sleep and when I wake up I’m still sick. I just wanted to know if you’ve ever dealt with out of control eating like this? I feel like I’m the only one who eats like this. Thanks for listening. Your blog has been so helpful.
Hi lovely! Thanks for writing in. Please rest assured that you are far from the only person I know who struggles with binge eating. I get many messages similar to this one regularly, and I have certainly had my struggles with it myself.
I would advise you to look at your message that you wrote to me. Binge eating happened once you had spent a period of time restricting food. This makes total sense – putting your body in a state of deficit for a while means that once you begin again, it can be hard to stop. Our genes are very similar to the hunter gatherers we once were. We would have long periods with very little food, followed by periods of feasting. Now we always have an abundance of food, with no time off from the feast. As wonderful as it is to never know true hunger, we now have to deal with the emotional side of mindless eating.
My first binge eating cycle began when I was in high school. I had just gotten scouted to model, and had had no education on how to eat healthily and carefully. Realizing that I was curvier than the other girls, I just stopped eating altogether. It worked – I lost a lot of weight. Then when I began to start eating again, I suddenly found that I could not stop. Foods that I had previously not cared about suddenly became integral to my happiness. Breakfast for me would consist of a whole family sized box of cornflakes with an entire jug of milk. I had no ability to put the breaks on and would regularly devour entire boxes of crackers. The strange thing is that I had no concept of not being hungry. I could eat and eat, and never feel full.
I know now that it had less to do with food, and more to do with my life at that time. 17 was a tough year for me – there was a lot of very intense changes in my home life that left me reeling (I just didn’t realize it at the time). A friend of mine had just died, and I also wasn’t sure about modeling. I had been in New York six months and I wasn’t certain it was the right thing for me. I missed my friends in Perth and I missed playing the oboe intensely. This was the first time in my life that I truly needed support, and when I turned to ask for it, I realized I had no one to lean on. So food took that place, and for many months I subconsciously sabotaged my modeling career by making myself too large for the clothing. I also sought comfort from the food, the momentary rush of satisfaction that junk food would give me, and the safe feeling of having all kinds of snacks, all available and mine.
Eventually though, I began to get sick of the food hangovers. I realized that the deep sadness inside of me was not getting dealt with this way, and the constant eroding to my self esteem was setting me even further back on the road to strength. So I took matters into my own hands, found my first therapist, and began to work with her. I don’t remember much from the sessions honestly, I think I just cried intensely for the first month straight. But eventually I began to feel like myself again. What we covered in those sessions was not what I was expecting. At her urging, I began to exercise again, and began to take some control of my life. After a few months, the binges began to lessen. Life began to start up again.
That was my first major brush with binge eating. It was not my last, but it was possibly my most empowering escape. I realized that within me I had all the tools I needed to get myself out of the deep sadness. There was no one in my life who could take care of me the way I needed them to, so I did it myself. And this is not a bad thing. Individuation begins and ends with you, and I took a lot of strength from this process. Each time after this when I began to seek comfort in food, the cycles would get shorter, and the bounce back stronger. Whenever you fight off something that seems insurmountable, your sense of strength greatly increases.
What happened to me after I took on the binge eating, was it morphed. I stopped binging and sought comfort in over training, undereating, partying and obsessive travel. You name it, I have tried it. But at the end of the day, you are always just running from yourself. And whenever you stop to take a breath, there you are. I didn’t get any space from my demons until I looked them in the eye, and asked what and why they were. This process took some serious time and therapy. I had to be ok with the discomfort of dredging up old pain and asking why I was the way I was.
But I can honestly say that I am in a place of balance(ish) now. This is a tenuous balancing act – one of observing my reactions based on what I have learned these past two years. Food now is something I am not afraid of. Whenever I eat past my hunger signals I sit and ask myself why. Whenever I feel the need to weigh and diminish my size, I can pinpoint the reason. The reason never surprises me, and by not running, I can bring myself back to a center point.
So my final piece of advice to you would be to talk about it. Find yourself a licensed healthcare professional who can take you through why you felt the need to lose weight. It is very satisfying to control your food, and the feeling can really seduce a lot of people. From there find out why you feel the need to eat uncontrollably. If you spend the time doing the work, you will find that your life settles around you in a way that makes sense. You no longer will be ruled by your diet, and you can live the life that you were meant to.
I really hope this helps.