Join Date: Oct 2013
I'm sorry but I don't totally agree with you. I haven't seen the other post. But i do know that for me personally, binge eating has become quite a habit. In certain situations, when i feel certain emotions (most of 'em) I turn to food. It probably didn't start out that way, but now it has become an automatic reaction to some things. The only reason I now call it a 'habit' is because I am more mindful of my behaviour and why I am doing it. At the same time, when the urge to binge comes on, i feel completely out of control, it pushes me to get in the car and drive to the shops for a mountain of sweet food. So there perhaps two types of binge behaviours - that urge that seems to come from nowhere and nothing but what i crave will suffice and those binges which aren't driven by urge, but driven by a habit, the memory in the brain of 'when i sit and watch xxxxx show, i eat xxxx'.
My binge eating is clinically diagnosed, by specialist medical staff, so I do fit the clinical definition of a binge eater. My binges can consist of many thousands of calories in a very short space of time, and have the secretive behaviours, the hiding and hoarding. Like you, i can binge on a good 10,000 worth of calories and then sit down to a meal with the family.
I have no idea what triggered this behaviour. Looking back through my life, I realise that I have had these behaviours since I was quite a young child (6 or 7). There was certainly no dieting involved. My mother has never been on a diet in her life (and she is quite large). All of my family are large. Only my maternal aunt has ever worried about weight and dieting. My grandparents owned a confectionery shop, one of those old fashioned ones, and there was never any restriction on me having sweets. So I disagree slightly that binging starts because food is restricted.
Since i realised what my eating problem was and got my diagnosis (about 14 months ago), I did a lot of reading and research on the subject. None of it resonated with me. Everything i read told me that my problem was emotional. That i ate because i couldn't deal with my emotions. That I ate because i had unresolved issues in my past and i was trying to stuff them down with food.
I didn't believe this to be true. I am a fairly self-open person. By this i mean i don't hide from myself. I acknowledge and embrace my faults and failures for what they are - an opportunity to learn. So i went back over the major events of my life to see what was lurking from there that I was ignoring and I couldn't think of anything. I've had two sessions of therapy with a counsellor and we've gone through my life timeline in some detail. He agrees that he doesn't see anything in there as an emotional time bomb.
I do eat in response to my emotions, but not because I'm trying to suppress them, or hide them or ignore them. But because it seems to me to be learned behaviour. I feel happy, lets celebrate with cake! I feel sad, lets make it better with cake. I feel angry, lets calm down with cake.(and ice cream and biscuits and chocolate and cheese and milkshake and and and!).
However, I did start reading Brain over Binge at the weekend, and so much of what is said there did resonate with me. The thing i need to figure out is what triggered the cycle way back in the beginning. What she says about neural pathways forming stronger and stronger chains in the brain the more you repeat an action makes perfect sense to me.
However, for me, its not a case of I've made a decision to stop binging, so now I've stopped. I have made a decision to stop binging. Its the same decision I've made every morning for the last 18 months. But now, I have an understanding of how i make it stop. What the urges are. And thinking about it in that sciency-logical way so far makes it easier than thinking i'm emotionally deficit in some way. But I have battled with it on a couple of occasions this week (yes i've only been trying a few days, but thats a win for me!). The urges are still there, growling in my head, but i feel better equipped to deal with them. I don't know how long it will last. But should I fail, i will pick myself up and start again. I am not suddenly cured. I will have to be on my guard against this for the rest of my life I think, but now i have some tools in my arsenal which seem to be helping. I don't think there is one magic cure. I think I need lots of different techniques, used in combination or rotation to help me. For example, when i was initially losing weight, it was because i was hosting a big dinner for my dad. I wanted to have a beautiful dress. I wanted to look good. I wanted him to be proud of me. That gave me the strength to resist the urges. Pretty much the week after the dinner, i returned straight back to old habits and eating patterns. Even though I had 'goals' of walking a 15 mile charity walk the next week and running a 5k 3 months later, they did not motivate me in the same way to 'break my programming' and in less than 6 months I gained back almost half of the wait I'd lost in the previous year. No goal set by my trainer has yet inspired me in the same way.
I feel lighter knowing that my emotional health isn't whats holding me back. There is nothing wrong with me per se, nothing i can't change. Perhaps its a feeling that I can change it, I can be in control, whereas binging left me feeling so out of control, so hideously weak.
All we can do is take it one day at a time, use whatever tricks we can to get us through the day and pick ourselves up when we stumble. And support each other as we do it. Our 'triggers', emotional responses and needs and urges to binge are all different, but we're all here for the same reason.