Anatomy of a binge!
I am a recovering binge eater. In all honesty, I am recovering from binging a few things.
In the not-so-distant past, I would go to the supermarket on the way home from work (the subway station is right there). I would get the following: Gluten-free lemon poppy seed loaf, cut melon, chicken or sushi, seven-layer dip or Heluva good dip (depending on the chip choice that day), lower sodium chips or Dorritos Hint of lime nachos (extremes on the sodium scale) and the Liberte Mediterranee 9-10% flavoured yogurt (the lemon tastes like old school lemon meringue filling). I would sit around looking at the people in the store, hoping not to run into people I knew so I didn’t have to explain myself. I would artfully hide that haul when I got home so my mother wouldn’t notice. Note: I am an adult who should be able to eat what I want. I would disappear up into my room and proceed to eat ALL OF IT!
After making my way through all that food, all sorts of emotions began. Guilt, embarrassment, disappointment and shame, were all part of what started a multiple-day-long tumble down the rabbit hole. Of course, I was determined to do better tomorrow, but as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and those intentions would go out the window.
To those of you who know me, I like to ask the reason why. Why is a word with so much meaning. It is worthy of its blog post (which will happen). If you don’t understand why you do it, you won’t make that change, no matter how hard you try. And for myself, hard questions often start with why.
The reality is I didn’t understand why I binged for a long time in this journey. It took working on my emotional stuff that made it click. I decided to look at what triggered my binges. I started from the most recent times going back into my childhood.
As a child, I would eat all the Halloween candy in one sitting. Of course, there are reasons I would do it, but I’m still processing those feelings, and this isn’t the time to talk about it. My most recent binges always came in moments of panic and anxiety. I would binge to make myself feel better at that moment. I was super judgemental of how I dealt with things, and food didn’t judge me. Looking at it now, I’m sure eating all that food gave me temporary energy. But in turn, I would feel both mentally and physically awful.
Binging was also a way for me to hide from my social anxiety, which is why I am a recovering binge drinker. I would drink a whole bunch and then go out and have a great time. That liquid courage made me the life of the party, which I would never have been able to do sober. Those binges would take me days to recover from.
So what do alcohol and food binging have in common? Well, in some ways, they are different. Food is needed so your body can function correctly. Alcoholic beverages, not so much. From a logical perspective, it was easier to understand that my drinking wasn’t a good thing, so I quit 18 years ago. But because I hadn’t honestly looked into my why I continued the cycle of binging.
The emotion why I binged both is the same: I was awkward and uncomfortable in my skin. I didn’t like myself as I was, so why would anyone else? Feeding those emotions in whatever way I could was how I dealt with what I felt were my shortcomings. I could do it behind closed doors, and no one would know. But I did, and the cycle kept going without any end in sight.
I don’t binge anymore. I genuinely don’t. There wasn’t one of those magical “a-ha” moments that we hear about. I suppose that because I was doing the work on my emotional self, I gained confidence in who I was so that I didn’t need to fill an emotional hole with food.
I see food as a necessity to fuel my body, not my emotions. But it takes time and hard work to dig deep into what motivates and triggers those binges.
I hope this is helpful to at least one of you in figuring out why you do the things you do.