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Post-Thanksgiving Post

Yesterday was a curious day for me but, ultimately, a successful one for which I am very grateful.  I did not have any plans to share a holiday meal with any friends.  A funny thing happens down here.  I think my different groups of friends assume that one of the other groups or couples have invited me to spend the holiday with them.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this year.  One friend did invite me last minute to come for dessert later in the day.  Another friend/co-worker was in the same situation and we sort of half-heartedly said that if we had the energy or desire mid-day to go out to a movie together, we’d get in touch.  Neither of us did.

For about a week ahead of yesterday, I veered between feeling sorry for myself/lonely/resentful and being completely okay with the circumstances.  While I would have liked to be in a group of friends for the human contact and camaraderie, I really, really, really didn’t want the day to be about feasting and overeating.  Then again, I did experience some yearning for turkey, some of my favorite side dishes and the like.  I just worried over whether the emotions would send me into binge mode.

It was a dilemma for sure, but I approached it with a healthy mindset.  From the time I woke up, I was determined that I was going to make this a healthy day for myself.  I started out by taking Natty for a longer walk than usual.  The weather is gorgeous right now — sunny but cooler — and he and I both enjoyed ourselves.  Throughout the day, in between doing other things and watching football, I also did other exercises.  I worked out a little with light weights and also did some situps, pushups and planks.  At another time, I did a full set of Tai Chi.  (By the way, since the rowing gym is closed through the weekend, I did rowing classes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.)

Our holiday meals always began with a fresh fruit cup.  (No, none of that canned stuff.  Everything fresh!)  I didn’t go full tilt with the full array of fruits Mom and I used to combine, but I cut up an orange, an apple and half of a banana and had it as a snack at lunch along with a  small salad.

Not knowing whether I’d end up at an afternoon movie, I had shopped to make myself a healthy but delicious Thanksgiving dinner.  I bought turkey thighs, a rutabaga, and yes some boxed stuffing.

Mashed rutabaga aka yellow turnip to some, is my favorite side dish.  It was a staple on our family Thanksgiving table.  Here’s the good news – it is a cruciferous vegetable, nutritious and delicious.  Although I put a little butter in it when mashing, I don’t overdo and I used skim milk.  This was, for me, a better choice than mashed potatoes.  I feel it also helped counter balance a little bit of stuffing.

Once it was determined that I was staying home, I really enjoyed preparing my meal.  I chopped up fresh herbs from my little garden to season the turkey and added chicken stock that I’d made and frozen to keep the meat moist while it roasted.  This also made for a delicious gravy after the fact.  I used more of the chicken stock in the stuffing, too.

When dinner was ready, I very carefully took appropriate portions instead of overloading my plate.  Even with the restricted stomach, if I put too much food on the plate at the outset, I tend to eat too much and then I feel sick and uncomfortable.  This ruins my enjoyment physically and emotionally.  I am really concentrating on continuing to train my eyes and my serving utensils to put the amounts I should eat… not what I would have eaten in years gone by.

I sat down and savored what I’d made for myself.  It was delicious and balanced.  I felt really good about how I’d planned and executed my holiday meal.

Now what about dessert, you might be wondering.  Yes, I’d put some thought into that as well.  I hate feeling deprived of dessert.  Emotionally, it’s unhealthy for me to feel deprived and often leads to me wanting more and then bingeing.  Last week, I researched and found a recipe for Pumpkin Souffle.  Very easy to make with a can of canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, two eggs and half a cup of sugar in the entire thing.  I counted up the calories.  Per serving, my souffle had only 180 calories.  As far as desserts go, this was a winner that I could absolutely fit into my meal plan.

I waited until my main entree settled a bit and then spooned out an appropriate serving and thoroughly enjoyed it.

All told, for me the holiday was a food win.  I feel really terrific about how sanely and carefully I planned, cooked and consumed my meal.  I’m also pretty darned please with the physical activity that I included in my day.  I took care of myself.

The result is that today I am not suffering from a food or binge hangover.  I feel good about myself and my recovery and am looking forward to building on this today.  I took the day off from work and have some fun activities planned.  I started with a healthy protein smoothie for breakfast.  Now Natty and I are going out for a walk.

I hope you all had a great day and are enjoying your Fridays.

 

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Sourcing Support

I’m pretty sure that back in the early days of this blog and the beginning of my post-weight loss surgery journey I talked about things I did before the surgery.  Among them was discovering a website community called ObesityHelp.com.  I found the site soon after I decided to seriously consider having surgery, which would have been roughly six months before the actual operation.

The site was an unbelievable resource for me.  It is filled with forums where people of all backgrounds, challenges, journeys and so on share their stories.  There are forums for folks who are having or who have had weight loss surgery – broken out even by the type of surgery.  When I started my research, I’d never heard of the type of surgery I eventually had – a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG).  Once I found out about VSG, I then started looking deeper into that procedure.  I think that’s what led me to ObesityHelp.com.

Oh, thank goodness!  For months, this was a place where I could read about other people and their journeys.  I could ask questions and benefit from the experience of others.  It was amazing.  The people were enthusiastic, generous with their stories, oh so encouraging.  I went there every night and, if I got scared or anxious or confused, I’d even pop on during the day.  Since I live in a place where in-person support groups are not available, online became a lifeline.

When good friends approached me and said they were considering weight loss surgery, I recommended that they also check out the website in addition to the other research they were doing.  I still do.

So, I don’t remember when or why I stopped frequenting the website and participating in the forums.

Yesterday was a particularly bad food day for me.  There is no rhyme nor reason for it, other than my eating disorder taking over my actions.  Even as I snacked and ate crap that wasn’t on my food plan I felt mad, sad, discouraged and depressed about it.  The emotions then fueled me eating more.  But a big bold mark in the Suckitude column.

I don’t know why I thought to do it, but at some point I walked over to the computer and logged in to ObesityHelp.com.  I cruised the forums and posted a note about what I’ve been experiencing and how I’m not sure what at this stage of the game I should be following as a food plan, how many calories, what ratio of protein to carbs, etc.  I asked for suggestions.

Today I went back on and there were several replies, all with good suggestions and, as important, encouraging words.  I visited more forums on the site and found someone who asked if anyone else post-wls still deals with binge eating disorder and compulsive overeating.  So, here was another place to touch base, to share, and to read the sharing of others.  Then I found a group for people fighting back from regaining some of their weight.

All of this information.  All of this support.  It’s still all right there, where it was before.  My needs have changed and the site is still a wonderful resource. Even the strongest, most knowledgeable of us can benefit from the knowledge and experience of others.

I’m feeling very grateful right now that I went back to the site.   I plan to keep going back.  I was feeling pretty isolated and alone in my struggle.  I don’t feel so alone anymore.

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Acceptance

In comments on the previous post, Forest Jane and I talked about how we can’t bring certain foods into the house because they’ll call to us all of the time and we’ll eat them.

I said that I can’t fool myself any longer and think that I won’t binge, in my own post weight loss surgery type of binge, on certain foods if I have them available in my house.  This has stayed with me in my  mind since.  The process of mulling this over caused some things to bubble up for me, even though the concept of keeping my house free of binge-trigger foods is nothing new.  It seriously could be the umpteenth time, or even the umpteenth squared time, that I’ve thought about this in the last 30 or so years.

You’d think I’d have gotten the point by now.  I have a little disgust twinge going on, but I’m also trying to remember that it doesn’t matter how often we think about something, or hear a suggestion, or even know intellectually that we should do something a certain way… if we aren’t ready, we aren’t ready, and we won’t make the connection.  Even if we make the connection, we can dig in our heels and resist.

Acceptance is the key, but I need willingness to reach that point.

I keep thinking that some day, somehow, I’m going to be able to eat “normally”, be a “normal” person when it comes to food.  That’s nothing new.  I know that for me, the only thing normal about my eating is that I will always be a food addict/compulsive overeater.  There is no cure.  I can only learn helpful things, tools, and means for keeping in recovery, even while accepting that I will never fully recover.

Today, this acceptance revealed an additional realization.  I’ve had it in my mind that when I get to goal weight, I’ll be fixed.  I won’t always have to do this, always be mindful, commit every day to working the program, and remain vigilant.  That is the worst kind of denial.  I can’t believe that I’ve continued to pretend otherwise for so long.

I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it.  There’s no time limit on the disease.

Mentally, I’ve known this for decades.  Today it feels like the rest of me is catching on, or at least catching up.

I have a lot of feelings about it.  I’m  a little glum in my acceptance, but at the same time pragmatic — it is what it is.  There’s resentment but I’m also ready to embrace it and keep moving forward.  While I haven’t worked through it to find the joy, I am catching a glimmer of grace in make these forward steps.

I’m grateful because, at the end of the day, I know that I can continue to recover.

 

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When Eating Runs Amok

I feel a great need to apologize for not posting in quite some time.  It’s been a whirlwind around here, including a five day visit by friends who stayed with me, followed immediately by a business trip.  It’s a busy holiday season in the Keys right now, so I no sooner got home from the trip before I launched into the fray.  Sorry about that, everyone.  I hope you’re all doing well.

Time for some brutal, denial-busting honesty.  I’ve been eating off of my food plan like crazy.  While I’m not in binge mode, I’m definitely eating wayyyy too many carbs and too much sugar, not adhering to my planned meal/snack times, and grabbing food compulsively just because it’s around.  This is full out disease eating.  Not only is it affecting me physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.  I am trying not to freak out, but I’m growing increasingly fearful that I can’t rein myself in, that I’ll gain all of my weight back, that I’m a bariatric surgery failure.  In short, that I suck and am badbadbadbad.

Yes, I know that’s the disease talking, but when my eating runs amok, so do my feelings.

Have I mentioned at any time that I really, really hate having an eating disorder?

Can you fathom how much I resent watching friends and colleagues eat full meals and not gain weight when it sometimes feels like all I have to do is look at a portion of something and the pounds adhere to my body like someone stuck them there with glue.

While maintaining my bright, smiling, positive personality on the outside, inside I am a whining, scared, pissed-off-at-myself, beyotch.  To top it all off, on my trip I wore heels more than I do at home.  They aren’t stilettos or skyscraper height by any means, but even a two-inch wedge puts my knees and hips at a different angle.  I have unaccustomed, random, phantom heel pain – in my left foot, i.e. the opposite of my bad right knee.  Of course pain couldn’t cooperate by at least being on the same side, right?  So, my body also aches and my joints hurt, which makes it that much harder to exercise.

Have I mentioned at any time, that I really, really hate it when I whine?

So, I’m doing what I can do.  I still walk the dogs twice a day.  I am committed to doing my Tai Chi daily, which truly helps by loosening up tightness, keeping my circulation and joint fluid moving, and providing some Zen-like stress relief.

The food?  Well, the food is a different challenge.  At a time like this, a broken jaw could be useful because with it wired I’d be limited to liquids and the occasional mushy meal.

I need to act like a true addict fighting for recovery and Just. Say. No.  No to the candy and other sweets.  No to grabbing extra food that wasn’t planned for.  No to giving up and giving into the disease.

I am not a failure and I refuse to be.  I will not give up the physical recovery I have worked to hard to attain.  I. Will. Not.

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Triggers

I don’t think only people with eating disorders have triggers that push us to eat or do some other behavior, even when we might not consciously want to do so.  Product manufacturers or sellers have banked on that, and endeavored to capitalize on it since advertising was first created.   However, I think people without addictions or other types of disorders are better able to withstand the triggers when they occur.  They might even spot them happening when with compulsive eaters, the foods already in our mouths, down the gullet and on its way to being digested before we stop to think.

There are lots of different types of triggers that start the chain effect of eating. Some are sensory.  You’re walking along in the mall and the aroma of chocolate chip cookies, warm from the oven, wafts to you from that storefront you’re approaching.  Ohhh, they smell scrumptious and your sensory recall brings back the crunch and flavor of them melting in your mouth with chocolate-y deliciousness.  Don’t you instantly crave one or, if you’re a binge eater, a dozen?

You walk by a co-worker eating lunch, see what they’re eating and it looks soooo much better than the meal you packed hours before when you left the house for work.

Hunger is another sensory trigger.  Naturally, there’s real hunger that occurs when you haven’t eaten for awhile.  Unfortunately, there’s also mental hunger when your head tells you that you’re starving even though your body really doesn’t need food at that moment.

I learned something about situation or association triggers when I went through a smoking cessation program many years ago.  (Actually, 28 years ago last Monday was when I quit smoking.  Booyah!)  The instructor warned us that we  had many situations where we were accustomed to lighting up even if we didn’t crave a cigarette right at that time.  Once he made us aware of such things, I could immediately identify them in my own life.  Whenever I got in my car, I lit a cig.  When I sat down at my desk – yes, back then we could smoke at work – was another trigger.  If I went to a club I was used to holding a drink in one hand and a cigarette in another.  Lighting up after meals – another trigger.   Those situational events were almost harder to break than the very real, physical craving.  You see, they also taught us that there’s a definitive timeline to a nicotine urge.  It builds for up to ten minutes but when it peaks, it goes away, whether or not you have a cigarette.

I’ve never been able to find out if the same holds true for a hunger craving.

Certain food triggers are a given for me.  If I’m somewhere and food is displayed out on tables – like at a party, or if someone brings in a pile of candy to work or leaves snack foods up for grabs in the kitchen — I want it.  If I have certain foods in the house – they’re often on my mind.  Just the fact that they are in close, available, proximity can serve as a trigger.

Plus, if they’re easily accessible and I fall prey to an emotional trigger, then the foods also become the bullets.  Stress, anger, loneliness, external events that upset or sadden me can allll trigger the urge to eat.  Granted, I could binge on celery if that was the only thing in the house to eat.  While the behavior itself isn’t healthy, at least the food would be better for me than candy.

That thing about keeping trigger foods in the house and believing that I am strong enough in program to withstand going on a binge-fest on them?  It’s a myth of my own making.   I’m fooling myself if I think that’s possible.  To be honest, I’m a little sad and a little pissed off to admit this.   I’d really hoped that I’d become one of those people who can make a single candy bar last a week.  Program teaches us that acceptance is the answer to all of our problems.  This is a reality I need to accept.  I need to not have those trigger foods in the house.

I don’t know why this simple truth annoys me so much.  When my mother was alive, we completely understood that she needed to keep a dry house.  Come to think of it, she resisted the notion, too.  She always wanted there to be beer or wine in case we wanted it to drink — despite the fact that we told her time and again that we didn’t want to drink in her house.  We didn’t even care enough about it to order a drink if we were all out to dinner.  It was her thing to insist.  I guess nobody likes to admit that we have so little control over our own diseases and addictions that booze or drugs or food have power over us.

Intellectually, I get it.  Emotionally, I hate it.  Spiritually, I work toward accepting that if I want to avoid wounding myself and setting back my recovery, I need to be more aware of my trigger foods and keep them as far out of range as possible.

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Food Shame

Sometimes I wonder if there will ever come a time when I will eat certain foods and not feel like I should be hiding their consumption; when I will not feel shame.

My logical brain says that foods eaten in balance are okay. That I do not need to be ashamed if I occasionally eat chocolate cake or M&Ms. Unfortunately, years of sneak eating and secret binges have left their mark on my psyche. Last night I went to the movies. I ordered a small popcorn and a small pack of peanut M&Ms. The popcorn I ate openly. Later, mid-way through the movie, I felt like I had to go into stealth mode, slipping each M&M into my mouth, so that the friend sitting next to me wouldn’t see me eating them.

Okay, so popcorn and M&Ms aren’t a healthy meal, but the quantities were quite small so it’s not like I was ingesting poison or illegal drugs. After the movie, I tried to connect with what I was feeling. I decided that I didn’t feel judged for eating the popcorn but I projected that people would judge me for eating candy.

Why? Because in some part of my brain, I still see myself as a horrifically obese woman whose food and eating habits were always looked at to some extent. Probably I imagined some of the judging and assessing by other people but I have definite evidence and memories of actual judging experiences.

Honestly, if my friend even noticed, I’m sure she didn’t care or think twice about it. Ultimately, I self-shamed.

Yep, I felt like I was doing something wrong. After two and a half years, my relationship with food is still pretty messed up.

I’ve also noticed that when I retreat into the old behavior of sneaking food I eat it faster, savor it less, enjoy it much less and end up eating more of the food item. Clearly this is something that I need to work on. I want to make it okay for me to eat what I choose and honor those choices. If I really really want a few M&Ms, then it needs to be okay — and I need to be able to enjoy them. Sneak eating is another symptom of my disease. Not only isn’t it good for me, it’s totally unnecessary.

Yes, definitely need to work on this food shame.

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Own Your Awesome

Years ago in OA, I learned that binge can be an acronym for B.elieving I.’m N.ot G.ood E.nough. That perfectly applied to me. I had lousy self-esteem and, as I’ve discussed here before, never really felt like anything I did or accomplished was good enough. Nothing was as good as it could have or should have been. I wasn’t smart enough or charming enough; my personality and persona weren’t attractive or nice or funny enough. I was obese so, naturally, I wasn’t pretty enough. The answer I never quite figured out was the comparison point, the yardstick against which I unceasingly measured myself and decided I was lacking.

It took me a long, long, freaking-long time to accept that I’m not just good enough, I am more than good enough. In fact, I am capable of being absolutely awesome.

Okay, I just fought a little battle with myself over that last sentence. I wondered whether I should delete it or leave it. Since you read it, you know which choice won — and that’s the whole point of this blog post.

I need to own my awesome. Everybody does, but this blog is about me. For now anyway. I’ll get to the rest of you in a minute. 🙂

Today I was able to finish the project that’s been driving me nuts and causing me stress for the last couple of weeks. This was outside my normal job responsibilities but our president asked me to take it on for our national organization because it needed to be done and done well. She asked me to do the project because she knows I’m awesome and would get it done. For a lot of those decades that I believed I wasn’t good enough, there were many people in my life who thought differently. They believed in me, loved me, thought the absolute best of me but I could never internalize that into self-belief and good self-esteem.

These days, I promise, I’m not turning into some egotistical blowhard but I think that it’s healthy to understand our own awesomeness. In fact, I think it’s absolutely necessary. If we don’t acknowledge, accept, internalize, celebrate and own our awesomeness, we damage ourselves. For whatever reason that I developed the crappy self-esteem in the first place, I spent years not doing anything effective to counter it. At some point I had to take responsibility for allowing the mindset to continue. I’m going to own that too, but it’s old water under an ancient bridge, so I’m not going to beat myself up over it either. I am, however, refusing to let it dam up the flow of my recovery.

I think it will help my continued recovery if I make the time to acknowledge my good qualities. I need to remind myself of all the positive things about me so that I don’t ever fall into that believing I’m not good enough state again. If I own my awesomeness, I don’t need to overeat in order to suppress the bad feelings because, hey, I won’t feel so bad anymore.

Okay, you know that I don’t urge you all to comment, although I am always thrilled when someone does. I know that you’re here reading, even if you lurk. However, I’m going to take part in a little exercise and I would absolutely love it if you all would participate with me. Let’s all own our awesomeness and list some examples.

I’ll go first. I rock my job. I’m a loyal friend. I demonstrate caring even to strangers at the store or on the street. I’m not afraid to try new experiences. I look for ways to positively reinforce and empower other people.

Those are five ways that I’m awesome. What are five ways that you can claim? Come on now, please share them with us so that we can all celebrate together.

Own your awesomeness!

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Fighting Back – Day Two

Thanks to the no-junk-carbs, healthy foods, lots of fluids approach yesterday, I’ve flushed two pounds of the evil water weight out of my body. Two more to go and I’ll be back on track.

In the midst of this I had the “Oh Yeah”, mental head smack, “D’oh!” moment. I really am supposed to eat like this all of the time while I’m still on the reducing phase of my weight loss journey. It’s not like I’ve been awful, playing fast and loose with my food plan, but clearly I have not been as “rigorously honest” with the effort as I thought. In retrospect, I will cop to what I know realize was some form of denial.

I wasn’t bingeing. I wasn’t completely immersed in compulsive eating. I was probably eating more like I will as a “normal” person. Eating well-balanced, healthy meals, indulging with a few treats here and there, but not going crazy to the point where I kept gaining pound after pound after pound.

The thing is that I’m not yet in the phase where this is the way that I should be eating. I still have weight to lose, so I was stalling my own effort. There is a LOT of great news in this realization. Just the fact that I actually can eat like a so-called “normal” person is encouraging. I’ve never been able to do that for a sustained period of time. ***I hate the term “normal person” or “normal eating” but, unfortunately, I can’t think of better, more appropriate terms right now to convey what I mean.*** I’ve now been on this journey for more than two years and, overall, I’m doing great! This gives me enormous encouragement that when it’s time for me to transition to maintenance and the future lifestyle of eating, I’m going to continue to be successful.

This eliminates an enormous fear. Deep in my heart, I’ve been almost afraid to believe that I will not gain back all of my weight. I’ve been terrified that I will revert to the old pattern, the way that I did every single other time I dieted. I am now cautiously learning to have faith and believe that I truly am converting to a person who will sustain life time recovery. These are not just “for now” changes. I’m in it to win it for the rest of my life.

For now, however, I need to maintain the rigorous honesty of my “losing” food plan. I’m fighting back against the lure of carbs and too much sugar. It’s day two of this week’s fight, and I’m committed to success. Tomorrow morning, I will wake up and commit again. Recovery is achieved by successfully living a series of “One Day at a Time” efforts.

I feel lighter today, not just in body, but also in spirit. I was growing weary of the losing effort. Today I am newly inspired.

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Being Here Now

I’m thinking a lot about the importance of being present in each moment. This is often quite difficult to remember, or easy to remember but difficult to practice. It’s even harder to be present in the moment and only experience that moment for what it is. Cause whatever the moment is, that’s what it is — and it ain’t what it ain’t.

Deep, huh?

We tend to bring a lot of stuff with us into every situation, interaction, conversation and experience. Sometimes we are the sum total of everything that’s gone on before so we don’t look at present moments with a clear, unaffected view. Instead, we filter them through all the other stuff.

While I think that it’s good to build on good foundations, we need to discern when we’re standing on solid ground and when we’re letting poor past experiences or apprehension about the future “what could happen” adulterate the moment.

So how does all this “be here, be present” musing connect to my eating disorder or my recovery? I’m trying to be mindful of my triggers and my habits. Just because I might have eaten inappropriately as a result of a situation before doesn’t mean that I have to repeat the behavior when I run into that situation again. I need to stay in the moment and deal from the strength of the recovery that I’ve built to date. When I’m anticipating a situation or a circumstance, I don’t need to react in old patterns of behavior if those patterns don’t serve a positive purpose.

Just because I’ve eaten compulsively, or overeaten before, for whatever reason, doesn’t mean I’m a slave to continuing in disease. I have new, healthier methods of dealing with whatever issue occurs.

Right now, this moment, is not what happened yesterday or last week, or when I was a kid. A bad experience in the past does not mean that the same will happen for sure in the future so I don’t need to fear that it will. I only need to take care of whatever is going on right now. It deserves the best of my attention with an open mind and open heart. Staying present means that the situation or person gets quality interaction from me, which is what they deserve. It’s what I deserve, too.

I have a favorite William Blake poem that intertwines with tonight’s musings. I love it so much that I did a counted cross stitch representation of it many years ago and it still hangs on one of my walls. It reminds me that everything comes down to the simple, the present moment, the being here now.

BlakeCrossstitch

This helps me to remember that no matter how enormous, intimidating, or overwhelming something might be, it really is no more than that grain of sand, the single wildflower, the palm of my hand, or a single hour.

It certainly doesn’t have to warrant diseased eating. That’s for sure.

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Why Don’t You Just Stop?

I was having an intelligent conversation with someone today about eating disorders. I was explaining how with binge eating a person can demonstrate different behaviors. The two behaviors with which I’m personally familiar are eating a lot of food spread out over several hours but with very little time in between eating bouts; and eating a large amount of food in one sitting — i.e. not stopping at all until gorged. It is entirely possible that in both cases the same amount of food is ultimately consumed and that amount is humongous. If that sounds a little abstract, here’s a smaller, simple comparison. Picture a large pizza and someone sitting down and eating all eight pieces before leaving the table. Now picture that large pizza and someone eating two pieces, then walking away. They return within an hour and eat another piece, or two. That behavior gets repeated a couple of more times and, ultimately, all eight pieces of pizza are devoured in maybe three hours.

Anyway you slice it, a person without an eating disorder does not consume an entire, large pizza pie.

The explanation made sense to the person with whom I was speaking — to a point. She seemed to take it all in and then asked, “But why don’t you just stop eating?”

That, my friends, is the bazillion dollar question, why can’t you just stop eating? Here’s my brilliant answer: Damned if I know.

The truth is that I don’t know. I don’t know why the compulsion to binge can be so strong that I can’t stop. At my worst, even if I’d eaten enough to feel physically ill — say if I had a batch of homemade, sugary sweet cake frosting and consumed spoonful after spoonful after spoonful — there was seemingly no shut off switch.

I’m sure that there’s some brain connection or physical analysis that links to the emotional or sensory triggers or something. Unfortunately knowing all that doesn’t really help. Once in progress, stopping a binge is incredibly difficult. It might continue until someone eats so much that they vomit, or at least can’t fit in one more bite. Maybe it continues until there simply isn’t any food left around to eat. At least then there is time and distance between the binge eater and more food and they might be able to convince themselves not to go out and forage for more.

Whatever the case, the very best way to prevent a full scale binge isn’t “just stopping”. No, the answer lies in not starting.

My friends and I in OA used to talk a lot about the fact that alcoholics have a choice which is drink or don’t drink. People with eating disorder diseases do not have the choice to eat or not eat. We called it letting the beast out of the cage at least three times a day. Once the beast is out, it can be a challenge to confine it again.

So, we have to eat, but we don’t have to eat in a compulsive manner. We do have the ability to choose what and how we eat. Non-compulsive eating, i.e. eating to a plan no matter what that plan might be, alters the behavior. It is the closest thing to control that we can practice.

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