Jan 13, 2014

Binge Eating

So I posted a preview on Facebook and on Instagram last night, but in case you don’t follow me there or didn’t see it I’ll bring you up to speed.

In short, I’m going back to counting calories for a while as my number one priority.

You see, I came to a realization over these past few months; I’m pretty sure that restrictive dieting has been my ultimate downfall.

I do great for a week, sometimes even for weeks or months, but in the end, I crash and burn HARD.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to figure this out, given my LONG history of dieting (yes, I’ve tried everything under the sun: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Slim Fast, Nutrisystem, the Special K diet, The Zone, Atkins, Clean Eating, and now we can add Carb Cycling to the list). 
I’m not saying these aren’t all valuable systems and effective ways to lose weight.  They work very well, and have, in fact, been very successful at helping people shed pounds.  The issue is when you’re not perfect.  What happens when you fall off plan?

For me, falling off plan would start really small.  Someone would bring in bagels for the office, and I’d be too damn tempted by the delicious smell of a toasted onion bagel overwhelming the office, so I’d give in and have a half of one.  HALF A BAGEL PEOPLE! That’s by no means the end of the world, but for me, it was turning into that.  And there’s where the slippery slope happens for me.  On a restrictive diet (IE, Clean Eating or Carb Cycling), bagels are OFF LIMITS.  My mentality would be “well, I already screwed up for the day, might as well get all that bad food in that I’ve been craving and start fresh tomorrow”.  And so the cycle begins.  This would throw me off for a full day, or if it happened mid-week, sometimes it would throw me off until the following Sunday.  All because I had something I “wasn’t supposed to”.

This leads me to the bigger problem, the real Elephant in the room here: As soon as I say that I “can’t” have something, it’s all I want.  I won’t stop thinking about it until I eat it, and when I do finally give in, it’s a catastrophic, diet-blowing binge fest.

 I’ve come to the realization that restrictive dieting has likely given me a binge eating disorder.
You can read a lot about this subject on the internet, so do some research, but here are some basic symptoms:

  • Feels disgusted, depressed, or guilty after binge eating.
  • Eats an unusually large amount of food at one time, far more than a regular person would eat.
  • Eats much more quickly during binge episodes than during normal eating episodes.
  • Eats until physically uncomfortable and nauseated due to the amount of food consumed.
  • Eats when bored or depressed
  • Eats large amounts of food even when not really hungry.
  • Often eats alone during periods of normal eating, owing to feelings of embarrassment about food.
I’m pretty sure I’ve had all of these symptoms at one point or another (or all of them at once, say Friday night), and while I know that everyone overindulges occasionally (IE, Thanksgiving), I know that my problem goes well beyond those occasional events.  I realize that I’m self-diagnosing here, and that I really should seek professional medical advice, but I’m not quite there yet.

I know that many people are too embarrassed or ashamed to admit this…and to a certain extent, I am too.  I don’t know that I’d have the guts to talk about this openly with any of my real-life friends, but this is why I have this blog, to be open and honest about this journey, and to talk about my struggles so I can face them head on.

I’m not sure yet if I know how to beat this issue, but what I do know is that by telling myself that I can’t have something, I’m guaranteed to have a binge shortly thereafter.

I posted a short while ago about the fact that I can’t seem to do the moderation thing, but the more I go through this journey, the more I realize that this is a problem I NEED to address if I ever want to have a healthy relationship with food.  In keeping with my goal to give myself more grace in my journey this year, I want to try to accept the fact that this journey won’t be perfect, and I won’t always eat only lean proteins and veggies for the rest of my life.  There will be social events, birthday parties, dinner with family, and I want to find a way to enjoy that time without stressing out about restricted food groups or things that are totally off limits (like pizza!).  I’m not giving myself an all clear to eat whatever the heck I want, whenever I want, but I am going to try to go a bit easier on the system.  I do think the principles of Carb Cycling are pretty sound: eat 5 small meals throughout the day, and eat lean protein and veggies at every meal.  I will aim for this still, but if I have a candy bar (or a bagel), I will log the calories and move on.  This year is about learning new things, and this journey is an ever-changing one.  Looking back, calorie-counting has worked very well for me, and though I grow tired of it after a while, it’s at least a structure I can stick to without too much stress.

Either way, I’m hopeful I’ll work through this, and that I’ll come out stronger on the other side.  I hope you'll stick with me while I figure this out!

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