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24 year old with severe binge eating problem..please help

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Old 06-17-2011, 02:40 PM   #1
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Unhappy 24 year old with severe binge eating problem..please help

I am not sure where to begin, but I guess I will create the time-line, so to speak. I know that the general amount of posters here are female (I am a male) but I actually look around here and find lots of useful info.

My binge eating first started when I broke up with my girlfriend about two years ago. After we broke up, it triggered a bout of depression. Prior to breaking up, I never really had any issues with food. I used to weigh 300 pounds but dropped to 220 in a healthy manor and stayed there. I would workout, and pretty much eat whatever I wanted. I never cared about my weight then, body image, or anything like that. When we were dating I was about 220 lbs, wore a 38 inch size pants, and I was happy with my life! I had no issues at all.

Well, after we broke up - the worst happened - I became depressed. I suddenly started eating about 1,200 calories per day, I exercised for almost two hours a day as well, and I dropped my weight from 220 lbs. to about 165 lbs extremely fast. I went from a 38 size pants to 32 in no time. Along with my weight loss I developed bad body images of myself, the desire to lose more and more weight, and I was never happy. As I continued dropping weight, I started suffering from binge eating on the weekends. I would eat mass amounts of food followed by feelings of guilt. It first started with high carb foods such as popcorn and bread, and then overtime I would eat high sugary foods such as ice cream and chocolates which hit the spot. This continued for a very long, long time - and is still happening. I would get urges for "something" and would eat to fill that void. After a lot of self-review/therapy, we realized one reason I was getting cravings was for a relationship and was eating to fill that void. When I realized that, my "uncontrollable cravings" stopped (meaning, that unknown "urge" disappeared), but I still suffered from binge eating. And the binge eating still continues.

But my binges now are different than back then. Last night I binged for example. During the day, I was extremely tired and lethargic. I had no energy whatsoever. I could barely function at work, and even getting out of my chair was a hassle. I had no energy to even workout. I just wanted to sleep all day. I was very hungry throughout the day (couldn't stop looking at the clock for noon to come so I could eat) and I started suffering from cravings towards the end of the day as well. It got so bad around 5pm I was biting my nails because I was so anxious. I tried fighting the urges off, I tried talking myself like "It's okay, calm down, you don't need to do this". When I got home, I started eating a ton of broccoli, chicken, and brown rice. The brown rice was pre-cooked in my fridge, frozen cold, and I was eating it all. I just ate and ate. This lead me off to going out to the store and buying two pints of ice cream, a whole box of twix ice cream bars, and pretzels. After I did this, I felt relieved. I felt MUCH better. My energy was back a little bit, and those horrible anxiety and cravings melted away. Most of the time now after I binge, I feel relieved. It's almost like my body needed it, and feelings of guilt do not really come up anymore. I feel "normal" after a binge. But I do not even enjoy it when I'm doing it. I don't like doing it. But it's like my body needs it or something. There's no "emotional" reason as to why I am doing this.

After a binge day, I go back to my usual diet which consists of about 1,600 calories. On top of that, I workout for about an hour per day. I can do this for a few days but then my energy starts to plummet as the days go by which is accompanied by the inability to make good decisions, fatigue, exhaustion, and of course - binge eating cravings. So, yesterday I binged, today I am back to my normal eating routine. I will probably do good for the next few days, but probably by the beginning or middle of next week I will start to develop severe cravings for sugary foods.

I have tried upping my calories to 2,500 to 3,000 and I still suffer from binges. I have tried all sorts of plans - even everything in moderation. I tried eating ice cream once a day. No matter what my macro's or calories are (high fat, high carb, low this, low that) I still suffer from binges. Right now 100% of my binges start when I get tired, exhausted, and fatigued. I know when I start feeling fatigued or worn-out I am on the pathway to a binge. And once fatigue/tiredness sets in, everything else starts to suffer, such as my mental alertness, which greatly effects my ability to make wise conscious decisions. Unfortunately what happens is I binge, I have energy for a few days, then it starts to taper off and I'm back to binging.

I am seeing a therapist once a week, and we have literally discussed every emotional reason but none are attributed to my binge eating. We have pretty much determined there is no emotionally deep-rooted issue anymore causing this. I am no longer depressed, and I have a great life. My own apartment, pretty much no finances, I volunteer and help the poor, I have a great job, I don't drink - everything is fine. ****, I even think I look good! I think I am a handsome guy. I want to stop binging because I am gaining weight which is not making me feel good, and importantly it is not healthy at all to my body. I am definitely no longer binging due to not having a girlfriend because even now that I am dating someone, I still suffer! I have tried many different supplements from St. John's wort, 5 htp, chromium, good multivitamins, fish oils, and I still get cravings.

These are my final two conclusions as to why this is still happening:

1.) I lost weight way too fast. Too fast, the wrong way, and now my body wants to get back to that "set point" of 220 lbs. Not only that, but all the excessive cardio I have done with low calories has essentially burnt my body out to the max. I am taking a week off of exercising to allow my body to rest right now. I don't know what to say, but I suspect the only thing to do is just allow the cravings to come, letting myself binge, gain my weight back to 220 and THEN lose it the proper way (by not starving myself and excessively exercising). I suspect once I get back to that set point of 220 lbs, my cravings will stop.

OR

2.) The only other conclusion besides the above that I have is that I am ADDICTED to binge eating and sugar. The fatigue, lethargy, and extreme cravings I am suffering from is actually withdrawal symptoms. I'll binge eat, and after a few days the cravings kick in because all the sugar has been depleted from my system and my body wants more. Essentially, my body starts shutting down when it's not getting what it wants (sugar). What would be the chances of that being true?

Right now I weigh about 185 pounds. I am 6 ft. tall, and 24 years old. I have gained 20 lbs from binge eating. No matter what my calories are, I suffer from binging once or twice per week still. If I knew why this was happening, it would give me a LOT of control over the situation. If I'm addicted - then fine. I'll admit I'm addicted to sugar and binge eating if that's what's causing this and then work with that. That way I can avoid weight gain that is not really needed. But if it's my body actually crying out for it's set point, then I will accept that and give it what it needs. I guess that is why I am still giving into the binges. Because I don't know if it's an addiction craving, or if it's my body actually needing it. The weird thing is like with yesterday, it started with just binge eating broccoli, brown rice, chicken, and anything I could get my hands on. Then it went off to the ice cream and sugary foods. Even when I spent a week eating 3,000 calories per day of healthy food I was still binging on anything (oatmeal).

Does anyone have any suggestions or thoughts? I am trying to be positive and accepting of this all, and I am now convinced this is no longer emotionally rooted. Is my only saving grace to gain the weight back and then lose it again - the RIGHT and safe way?

I am either addicted to binge eating and sugar, or my body is crying out for nutrients and getting back to it's set point. If I could figure out which one, it would help me overcome this issue once and for all. What do you think?
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Old 06-17-2011, 02:54 PM   #2
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I have a mother for a nurse and it sounds to me like your body is lacking a nutrient or vitamin. If I were you Ide go see a doctor and get some blood work done. I was the same way at one time. turned out it was an iron and potassium deficiency. I was eating raw potatoes and a crap load of bananas and i didnt know why.
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Old 06-17-2011, 03:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
2.) The only other conclusion besides the above that I have is that I am ADDICTED to binge eating and sugar. The fatigue, lethargy, and extreme cravings I am suffering from is actually withdrawal symptoms. I'll binge eat, and after a few days the cravings kick in because all the sugar has been depleted from my system and my body wants more. Essentially, my body starts shutting down when it's not getting what it wants (sugar). What would be the chances of that being true?
Before I was even to this part of your post, this is what I was thinking. I am a sugar addict, and I behave in the same way. After I get through a couple rough days without the stuff, the symptoms go away...That is until I decide to try it again. The longer I go without sugar, the better my life is. But then for some stupid reason I think I can do Moderation, (Because it's preached a lot) and I give it another whirl. I can't do sugar moderation.

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Old 06-17-2011, 03:15 PM   #4
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It sounds like an anxiety problem to me. Even when we don't have a particular issue that's upsetting us, we can still have trouble with anxiety. Some of your episodes you describe sound a lot like an anxiety attack. Maybe this is a female talking - but I don't agree that isn't emtional. Just because your life is "together" doesn't mean you are inside. I would bet that there is something there. Food is a coping mechanism. Your focus on the binging and the reasons are taking you away from focusing on the problem. Often, food is something we can "fix" and talk about with less difficulty than the underlying issues. I am glad that you are doing so well in your life now. It is very encouraging. I just have a gut feeling that there is still something that's unresolved. Food is rarely the problem - usually the symptom. The next time you want to binge, instead of giving in right away explore your feelings. Think about what happened that day or that week. Was there something stressful? Ask yourself what your fear is to not eat. Do you feel worthy of your new life? Sometimes we have trouble with accepting positive circumstances as well as negative ones. Do you feel the need to binge to balance out the good? I can't tell you what the problem is, but I would encourage you to explore your feelings that you are clearly trying to cover up with food the next time the binge strikes. You'll get through this! Hugs!
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Old 06-17-2011, 03:24 PM   #5
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Food is rarely the problem - usually the symptom
Actually, in my most humble opinion, food is not the symptom...it's the drug of choice. The symptoms are cravings, anexiety, lightheadedness, brain fog...Food is what we use to numb the symptoms...the drug.
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Old 06-17-2011, 03:27 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Lori Bell View Post
Actually, in my most humble opinion, food is not the symptom...it's the drug of choice. The symptoms are cravings, anexiety, lightheadedness, brain fog...Food is what we use to numb the symptoms...the drug.
I agree. I'm a drug addict in recovery and resisting food is harder than resisting heroin. Theres no way I can go as long with out a french fry as I can without drugs.
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Old 06-17-2011, 03:44 PM   #7
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Welcome to 3FC!

First of all, while it's called "3 Fat Chicks" it's an open site for ANYONE. Anyone aiming to lose weight, eat healthier, move more, give positive support... everyone is welcome.

There are some well-known gentlemen who post fairly frequently, so you certainly are not alone. There's a Men's Corner, there's a Chicks in Control section (again, it's called Chicks in Control, but it's PEOPLE in Control) for those who are having problems with eating disorders like binging. It's a lot more common than you might think. Again, you aren't alone.

As for the questions you asked... it's different for everyone. Maintaining weight loss, just like losing weight is a trial and error experiment.

If you feel like you're addicted to sugar, then maybe trying a low-carb or low/no sugar type of plan might help weed that out of your system. Or at least, help determine what other directions you might need to take.

I wish you all the best, and I hope to see you back here and read about your progress.
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Old 06-17-2011, 03:54 PM   #8
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This is all I know. I broke up with my girlfriend about two years ago and I became depressed after that. I started eating about 1,200 calories per day and exercising a lot. The weight was flying off at a rapid pace. I then developed some ED habits such as "chewing then spitting" food. Eventually I started binge eating because it made me feel good. It gave me a high and I enjoyed it. It made me feel loved and was filling that void of being alone/single. Once I recognized that, the "urges" to binge significantly dropped, but I still continue to do it. I'll admit - I enjoy doing it at times and I love how it makes me feel (it makes me feel good) but I still get uncontrollable cravings to do it. There's nothing better than just eating a ton of junk food but I know it's bad for me and I want to stop.

Am I addicted? Is that what it comes down to? I have been in therapy for like a year now, if there was some sort of underlying reason I believe that would have been found. Yesterday it was terrible. I woke up in the morning and I was just so fatigued. No energy or anything. Could not function at work, extremely tired, unable to do anything and I was extremely hungry and cravings just about anything - broccoli, chicken, brown rice, etc.

By time work got off (5pm) I was freaking out. I kept telling myself calm down and relax but I kept getting the urge to EAT. I got home and uncontrollably ate broccoli, brown rice, and chicken. **** I wanted to eat so bad I threw the chicken on the grill and was eating chicken that was not even fully cooked!!

Do you think my body just wants to get back to it's original weight (220) and I can try this process again the healthy way? Or should I look in the mirror and tell myself "I am addicted to binge eating. I am powerless over food".

I am either addicted, my body wants it's set point back, or I am lacking some sort of vitamin/mineral in my diet. OR it's a combination of all three. Should I call my doctor and have a blood test done? I almost feel hopeless and that I should binge everyday because I'll never be able to stop anyways (of course I wouldn't do that though)

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Old 06-17-2011, 03:58 PM   #9
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absolutely go to your doctor and get blood work done, because no matter what the root of this issue is, it's always good to get your blood work checked every now and then :-)

honestly, maybe your mind just still associates food with feeling good. I know my brain does. even if everything is going well in my life, I still have binges because eating feels good for me.
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Old 06-17-2011, 05:54 PM   #10
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There's no reason NOT to get your blood tested, you know what I mean? You could find something. You could not, but it's not going to hurt to see what's going on.

Even people in therapy don't heal by a timeline. You might have been talking to someone for a year, but it doesn't mean everything has come to light. It doesn't mean everything from therapy has clicked.

If you're concerned about food addiction, you may also want to check out Overeaters Anonymous.

Our bodies do tend to want to get back to that high weight, but being so desperate for food that you eat uncooked chicken is not how the body gets back there. That seems far more like addiction or psychological reasons.

First, though, I'd get tested for any actual physical ailments. Rule them out. There could be something going on, we don't know.

However, your previous mention of an ED means that...well, it's honestly for many people a LIFETIME of work to overcome. Some days more than others there's that urge to binge.
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Old 06-17-2011, 06:00 PM   #11
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By time work got off (5pm) I was freaking out. I kept telling myself calm down and relax but I kept getting the urge to EAT. I got home and uncontrollably ate broccoli, brown rice, and chicken. **** I wanted to eat so bad I threw the chicken on the grill and was eating chicken that was not even fully cooked!!
I would most certainly go see your Doctor, because that is one thing we are not. The one thing that makes me think it's a sugar thing is that in your original post, you said the binge didn't end until you went to the store and purchased ice cream and ice cream bars and ate that after the healthy stuff. You didn't stop the binge until you got your sugar fix. In my mind it would be like drinking a 6 pack of O'Dules NA beer trying to catch a buzz, and then finally breaking down and drinking a 12 pack of Budweiser. You start out eating "good stuff" but in the end you have what it really is you're craving. But I only say this because it's been a life long problem I have had, everyone is different and maybe you eat pints of ice cream because you really do have a vitamin deficiency...who knows? I hope you get it all worked out. Keep us updated.

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Old 06-18-2011, 08:49 PM   #12
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Well I suffered from a binge attack today (and I am still suffering a little as I write this).

It started this afternoon. I was extremely tired and could not stay awake. No matter what I tried doing my energy levels hit negative levels to where I could not function. Next thing I know, I plopped over in bed and fell asleep for a while. When I woke up, my cravings were BAD. I was thinking about eating and eating (especially sugary/chocolate food).

Well I woke up and I had two larabars (220 cals each) back to back. Then I had a can of tuna (100 cals). Still didn't feel too good. Then I went to the store and I was wanting ice cream. Not just a bite or two but a HALF GALLON. I told myself whatever I do, I am not buying a half gallon. So I bought two greek yogurts (80 cal per piece) and sugar free jello. And a bag of frozen strawberries (120 cals). I ate them extremely fast in my car and made a mess but I shovled it down. Of course the ice cream cravings lingered but I told myself no matter what, I am not giving in. I ate all of the above food.

As I write this, the above worked - but it was HARD. I literally spent a half hour driving around after eating all the above shouting out any negative emotions I had trying to figure out why I was binge craving. I don't think this is related to emotional reasons at all. I literally spoke ANYTHING on my mind and nothing was stopping the urges.

My cravings are a little alleviated, but I still am thinking about ice cream. I feel a lot more in control though so that's a good thing (meaning, I won't give in). And thankfully, while I did eat a lot as wrote above, I still hit my daily calorie total regardless so I did not go over.

I just wish I knew what was wrong. For a 24 year old male who is active 4-5x per week his seems so un-natural that I am experiencing this binge urges.
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Old 06-18-2011, 09:09 PM   #13
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Only you can really know whether it's emotional or not. (But, FYI, speaking emotions aloud does not necessarily stop a person with emotional binging problems from craving a binge.) However, if you don't think it's emotional, then it could possibly be that sugar is just one of those things that you're going to have to monitor/manage/cut out completely.

You might want to check out a "no sugar" eating plan for a week or two and try to cut it out completely to see how things go. It's not for everyone, of course, but it might just be right for you!

I'm glad you were able to keep yourself from giving in to a half gallon of ice cream, and that you were still able to keep yourself from going over your limit for the day.

It's hard, but you can do it. And it might take time, but you'll figure out what's going to work best for you.
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Old 06-18-2011, 09:11 PM   #14
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i don't really have any advice as far as binge eating goes -- i'm seriously clueless as to why this is happening to you. it's very strange, but i guess all eating disorders are pretty weird. maybe you can control your weight gain a little better if you put on muscle, though? like instead of doing so much cardio, maybe implementing a weight training program could help. in order to gain muscle, you need to have a calorie surplus, and considering you're gaining weight even though you regularly exercise and on most days only eat 1600 calories, you're definitely in one. you could feasibly weigh 220 lbs with most of that weight being muscle rather than fat and you'd look fantastic. could be worth a shot.

oh, and a couple of websites that might help:

http://www.formerfatguy.com
http://www.leangains.com
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Old 06-18-2011, 10:07 PM   #15
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I have the same issue. Or, had. It is still there but under control at the moment. For me it IS an addiction to the behavior. I don't understand it, I just know that when I eat low carb, it pretty much goes away.

I hope you can find peace and a solution for your binge eating.
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