Guest Blolggin’ at We Are The Real Deal

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have guest posted on We Are the Real Deal (WATRD). I wrote about my secret life as a binge eater. You can read the post here at We Are the Real Deal or below. I am so grateful that such an amazing website would want a post of mine to appear there.

(This post will sound familiar because it has some overlap with the post I wrote for Eating Journey – a chronicle of where I’ve been and how I got to where I am today. Today’s post has a bit of a different theme.)

The Secret Life of a Binger

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 8 or 9 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 binging 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 awarenesses 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 of 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.

One Day at a Time... Nurture myself... Awareness... Letting Go... Listen to my Body

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7 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Anonymous Fat Girl
    27 February 2010, 9:15 am

    You are a wonderful success story and your story is helping others I just know it. I love how you have brought this very touchy subject out in the open by sharing your journey.
    .-= Anonymous Fat Girl´s last blog ..Inspirational & funny personal trainer stuff =-.


    love2eatinpa Reply:

    thank you so much! i feel like i’m a success story, so far. i just hope it continues, but that is in my power.


  2. Jill
    27 February 2010, 8:57 pm

    That was a great post, thank you so much for sharing! 🙂


    love2eatinpa Reply:

    thanks, jill.


  3. Jill
    27 February 2010, 10:03 pm

    You’re welcome.


  4. Donna
    14 May 2010, 10:18 am

    I love your story of what it was like, and what it’s like now…do you have any more on what happened? How did you get to the “what it’s like now” part of your life? Thanks so much for your story!!


    love2eatinpa Reply:

    hi donna and thanks for stopping by! well, things have changed since i posted this in february, i’ve taken more steps in my recovery. i’m still binge free, i’m still only getting on the scale once a month and the big thing is that tomorrow will make seven weeks since i started eating intuitively – stopped weighing/measuring food portions and counting calories. it was a huge leap of faith but some new awarenesses, some ah-ha moments in books i read and some new mindsets helped me to take the leap of faith. it has been freeing and empowering, and it feels wonderful. i’m still a work in progress, but feel like i’m getting closer to eating like a “normal” person.
    i got to where i am now with my awesome therapist, reading some great books, putting my childhood, which led me to become a compulsive overeater / binger in it’s place and moving on, and changing my mindset on some things.
    thanks for your interest!


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