Binge Eating Disorder is 3 times more likely than anorexia and bulimia combined. An estimated 2.8 million people have BED. Most commonly women in their early 20’s, and men during midlife. Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder, however only recently was it acknowledged as one.
Since starting this blog, I have made it a goal for myself to always be honest, and open even if it can be a very personal topic. I want anyone who reads my blog to know that the crazy things they think, issues they experience, or emotions they feel happen to others as well. That everyone has their own struggles, and no one is immune. I want anyone who reads my blog to find something they can relate to.
Which leads me here, to one of the most personal experiences I could share. My experience with an eating disorder, specifically Binge Eating Disorder.
If you’ve never heard of Binge Eating Disorder (BED), my best explanation would be when someone eats a very large amount of food in one sitting. This usually leads to a huge amount of discomfort, as well as guilt. A binge episode is usually followed by restricting to “make up” for the large amount of food consumed.
At first I didn’t realize I was doing anything wrong. I had simply started a diet after graduating college. I felt it was time to get it together and eat a nutritious diet. Which I did very well for a long time, but I eventually started to become obsessed. I would watch EVERYTHING that I would eat, making sure there was no seasoning on my food, eating only the “cleanest” foods, and avoiding going out to eat. I was following a strict gym routine, and I would do body checks any chance I had. My journey to health had essentially become unhealthy.
The binging started small, which would be comparable to maybe eating a little too much at a meal. But eventually I was eating full jars of peanut butter in one sitting. The best memory I have to really make it clear just how much food I could consume in a short period of time, is the night I ate a full pint of ice cream, then proceeded to go out with my friends. So I followed up my pint of ice cream with appetizers, half a pizza, and multiple cannolis.
Let’s really think about it. How would you feel after just the entire pint of ice cream? Pretty full right? Now imagine eating a three course meal directly after a pint of ice cream. It made me feel like I was going to literally explode. The amount of pain and discomfort I felt was unexplainable. But time and time again I would put myself through this.
The main point I want to get across was that these moments weren’t really conscious. I often felt like it was an out of body experience. Realistically I knew what I was doing, and I knew the pain it was going to cause me but I COULD NOT control myself. And the worst part was that this was a cycle. I would wake up the next day, vow to eat better, ultimately restrict myself and barely eat, and then lose control all over again. It was a cycle I couldn’t break for more than 2 weeks at a time.
I never would allow myself to purge after I would finish a binge. I always felt that if I forced up what I had just eaten, then I definitely had an eating disorder. I needed to see one of the signs that we so often hear about in association with an eating disorder. Well I ate, a lot, so that seemed fine. And I never forced myself to throw up. So yeah… I must be fine! But, I wasn’t. And it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the term binge eating one day that I realized this isn’t “fine.”
From there everything improved. Over time of course! But I found myself a therapist who specialized in this kind of behavior. We worked together for almost two years before we both agreed I had really removed myself from this behavior. We tried many things including journaling, gratitude practice, mantras, and self awareness tactics. I was determined to kick this behavior, and I feel the combination of everything and my determination really worked well together.
It wasn’t easy, and I still struggle in some ways. Not with the binging, but with my opinion of my body. This is something I am always working to make sure I keep in check. But I can say that I found the help I needed and never looked back.
The last thing I want to note is that these things can be hard to pick out. Those two photos are 4 years apart. The one on the left while I was in the thick of my BED, and the one on the right is me now. Not much difference, and there’s nothing about my body physically that would raise concern to anyone. These things affect SO many people. Look for different signs. Do your research and be supportive of those who need you.
Until next time,
*All stats cited in the post are from healthline.com