Binge Eating and Me
I’ve been struggling with my weight for the past two years now. Last year I fell into a severe depression and to comfort myself, I began to binge eat. I was then more depressed because I was binge eating, so I ate some more. Pretty rapidly I became trapped in this cycle. In 2016 I lost 3 stones. I have decided to apply some of the principles I learnt back then to shed the pounds once more. Over the past 12 months, I have gained a whopping 4 stones!
For months I had convinced myself that the weight was my only problem – if I lost the weight, my life would fall back into place and I would return to my usual happy self. In recent months I have come to realise that my weight issue was only the tip of the iceberg. My real demon was depression rather than binge eating.
Why Do I Binge Eat?
“Food addiction is cruel – it’s hard to break the cycle when you’re addicted to something you need to have eveyday to survive!”
I had to take a long hard look in the mirror (physically and metaphorically). And think ‘why am I binge eating?’. After some long hard soul searching I learnt a million things about myself. For over a decade of my life, all through my 20s and into my 30’s, I was a student of some form or another. After completing my degree and Masters, from 2010 to 2016 I was working on my PhD thesis. Once I completed my PhD, I had lost my focus. The thought of completing my PhD had driven me through some really tough times and it was my ultimate goal. I thought little about how I would feel once my PhD was complete.
Suffering from a serious slump in my mood, I felt lost and had no idea what to do next. Moving forward, I started to work, but that still didn’t fill the void. I worked on transforming my thesis into journal articles, but it just didn’t feel the same. On the bright side, I had more time to myself. I spent evenings with my husband in front of the TV (something we rarely did when I was studying).
Binge Eating for Comfort
I would sit with a huge mound of snacks, my ‘treats’. Without realising it, these treats became a standard part of my diet. And unknowingly, the quantity of these treats increased. I went from eating a low-fat packet of popcorn on the sofa each night to binge eating on a huge family bag of crisps, a chocolate bar and packets of sweets. It’s not as if I would consume these snacks every night. I would binge – perhaps 4 nights a week. I ate more and more of these foods if they were available. Snacking throughout the day on these treats became the norm too! Rather than reaching for fruits, as I had done previously, instead, crisps were my regular choice of snack.
For a few moments, the unhealthy snacks gave me a buzz. They strangely made me feel happy for a short time. Within minutes of eating them, I would crash and feel guilty for eating so much. I would eat to the point of feeling (and sometimes actually being) physically sick.
Time for a Change
I had a meltdown three weeks ago and decided it was time to change. After figuring out why I binge eat, I then had to focus on changing my mindset. My husband, Brian has been a great help! He has encouraged me to focus on the positives in life and to change the things I am unhappy with. I said my weight was an issue, so he restarted my gym membership. I had got into a slump with my work life so I have made some positive changes there too. Once I acknowledged the fact that I had depression, I was able to see my GP for some additional help. I have found that meditation has seriously helped my mood and by focusing on the positives in life I’m making changes for the better everyday.
This has been no overnight transformation. I’m still working on my issues but I feel my old self-returning more and more with each passing day.
Importantly, I am working towards limiting my ‘treats’. I have to try and reward myself in other ways rather than with food. (I’m still working on this and will keep you posted). This is a difficult process to work through. I have been eating healthily but do allow myself to indulge in some of the things I really enjoy once or twice a week. My focus needs to be on limiting the amount of these ‘treats’ I have rather than binge eating on them.
Referring to the quotation of mine at the beginning of this post. The important thing to remember when you’re a binge eater is that you have to set your own limits. We need food to survive but we only need a certain amount. Every time I find myself in a situation in which I would normally binge eat, I have to remember the limits I have set myself, e.g. I’ll just have one toffee instead of the full packet. I count things out and lay them in front of me so my brain has time to figure out that this is my limit. That little voice inside that encourages you to eat more needs to be replaced with positivity and light. The binge eating voice isn’t your friend!