Stop Binge Eating: 8 Harsh Truths That No One Talks About
I've had my fair share of experiences with binge eating. I have been dealing with this since I was in high school, so about 10 years now. I know how it feels to love, hate, be comforted by, and simultaneously, be disgusted by food. This post is for those of you who struggle with this disorder. I am hoping that by sharing my experiences with you, and explaining what has and hasn't helped me, will inspire and guide you to beat this once and for all. This is not a research article, I'm not about to spit facts at you. This is just me, being vulnerable, and sharing my story in order to help you. It's taken me almost a decade, but I have finally found peace with my relationship with food, and you can do the same.
Now, for some background information about myself. Rewind back to elementary school. I was over weight, had just transferred to a new school, and was bullied, almost immediately. I wasn't welcomed, I barely had any friends, no one to talk to, and I hated going to school. That's really when my eating disorder started to emerge. From then until high school I stopped eating at school. I'd pack maybe some fruit and a protein bar, and be starving all day. Then, as some of you know, there's nothing you can do when you get home but eat everything in sight. I would go straight to the pantry, and my eyes would light up when I saw all the treats (my parents used to and still do keep A LOT of sweets in the house). I would grab as much as I could, go up to my room, and just eat for the rest of the night. I felt comfort in that little moment of time, but then I would feel sick. I stayed in my room all night after I finished my binge sessions. Feeling sad, depressed, sorry for myself, etc... I would think "it's fine. I just won't eat tomorrow and it'll be ok".
I stuck with that mindset for a LONG time. Even through college. My binging did not get any better. I would do great for a couple weeks, then binge for a week, be ok again for a week or two, then binge again. I couldn't stop. I kept gaining and losing a LOT of weight. I even hired a coach to help. I thought it would be someone who I could talk to, be accountable to, someone who would understand, but my binges were too out of control. It was unhealthy, it took a huge toll on my mind and my body, and it kept me from really enjoying my college experience. I would choose to stay at home rather than go out. I spent 85% of my time in my room, the rest of the time was spent either in class, or the gym, trying to burn off all the calories I ate from the day before. My training in the gym was more towards "making up" for my binges instead of really trying to achieve something.
After college, my binges were at an all time high. I would binge 4-5 times a week. I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life, and the saddest. I thought to myself "that's it. food has won. there's no coming back now, I'm too far gone". That was my mentality for a while, until something happened. My boyfriend left me, and it was (at the time) both the worst and the best thing that could have happened to me. I don't need to go into why it was the worst thing for obvious reasons. But it took me a long time to realize why it was a good thing...
I hit rock bottom, and it woke my ass up.
I'm hoping that by sharing my story, and giving you as much advice as I can, you can make the changes you need before you ever get to a point that low. With that being said, here are the best tips that I've done to help me beat my binge eating:
1. You MAY actually have to hit rock bottom
I'm not saying that you NEED to hit rock bottom in order to figure it out. But once I hit it, there was no where else to go but up. If you keep continuing the way you are, you WILL reach a point in your life that you don't want to reach. You will have nothing good to say about yourself at all. You will wake up one morning thinking "well shit. look at me. I'm overweight, I eat like a f***ing pig, I'm alone, I don't even recognize myself anymore". I know you will think that because I have thought it. Once you hit that point in your life, something will just click, and you'll know what you need to do. If you take away anything from this article - DON'T wait to get to that point. Do something NOW and don't EVER get that low.
2. Change your mindset
I stopped making excuses. I stopped telling myself that I was "too fat now to go to the gym". I stopped telling myself "what's the point of eating healthy today, I'm a fat ass anyways". I stopped with the negative thoughts, and I made it a priority to think positively. I started thinking "I need to go to the gym, the more I go to the gym, the easier it will be to get back into a routine". I started thinking "no, eating healthy for one day won't make me lose all this weight, but if I start now, I know I'll see changes soon". Everything bad that you tell yourself, repeat the same exact things, but make it positive.
3. Dont restrict foods OR calories
This is one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you. The more you restrict, the more you will binge. It's as simple as that. If you count macros, add in DAILY treats. If you don't count macros, eat less carbs at one meal to leave room for a little treat. Don't get into the starvation mindset. Slowly start eating MORE calories, and the binges will decrease. It will take time, and a HELL of a lot of patience, but it will work. The more you eat, the less you will binge, and the more your body will change. Once I started increasing my calories, my binges decreased significantly, AND I started to lose weight.
4. Literally tell yourself no
I still do this to this day. My binges tend to occur at night. When I'm at home, relaxed, and everything is done for the day. It used to be EVERY night, but recently, it's only a few nights a week when that little urge comes back. That little voice in my head saying "you've come so far. one night won't hurt you. just eat that ONE piece, have ONE bowl, it won't make you fat. you can make up for it tomorrow". Sometimes that voice is so bad that it forces me to get up and walk to the kitchen. I look at the food, and just as I am about to give in, and be lost in the short, sweet, satisfaction, I tell myself no. I literally say NO, and be done with it. I stop with the self-negotiations right then and there. Say no, and be done with it.
5. Distract yourself
One night last week, that urge to binge came up again. It was 10 or 11PM, I was on the couch, watching TV, and I started thinking about the chocolate I have in the kitchen. What did I do? I brought my ass to bed. It was late anyways, I might as well just go to sleep. I brushed my teeth, got ready for bed, and fell asleep. Now, if your binges tend to occur during the day, distract yourself in other ways. If you can just go into a different room and find something to keep busy, then great. But if just being in the house has you thinking about that yummy food in the kitchen, LEAVE. It doesn't matter where you go, just go somewhere!
6. Keeping sweets out of your home doesn't work
Trust me, I know. I made a vow one day that I wouldn't keep ANY junk food in the house. And then when that urge to binge came, I would just order food. Preferably, I would have it delivered, that way I can order as much food as I want, and I don't need to feel the embarrassment of having to go pick it up alone. Or, since I live so close to the grocery store, I would go spend upwards of $40-50 on ONE trip of just junk food. I would grab chocolate, ice cream, hit up the bakery, maybe buy a frozen pizza or a couple of boxes of mac and cheese, oh cheese - cheese and crackers, definitely need a couple of sodas to wash this all down. Then I would go to the self check out lane to hide my shame as I bought all this food. Believe me, keeping it out of the house doesn't work and even makes the binges worse. So it's ok to have those things in your house, it's ok to be a normal person and want a piece of chocolate every once and a while, but you need to trust yourself first. Again, it takes time and patience, but eventually, it will be like second nature to say no to your binges.
7. Think about how shitty you'll feel the next day
Sometimes, just thinking about the next day stops my urge to binge. Think about how your stomach will feel, think about how jiggly you'll feel, how big your stomach will look, how gross and dry your mouth will be, how hot and sweaty you'll be during the night. Think about the first second you open your eyes the next morning. Do you want to start the day by thinking "oh shit what did I do", or do you want to start it with "hell yes. I did it. I can do it again today". Do you want to get out of bed, walk to the bathroom, and be disgusted when you look in the mirror? Do you want to lift up your shirt and look at your stomach, trying to suck in, and hope that all the food you ate will just go away? Or do you want to do your daily morning self check out and think how amazing you look? How fueling your body and training in the gym has treated you SO right, and you cant wait to keep seeing results.
8. Talk about it with someone
Whether it be a friend, a parent, your significant other, or even me! TALK. IT. OUT. When I didn't have anyone to talk to about it, I even started journaling. I wasn't very often, but it felt good to just let out everything I was feeling. It's ok to want to vent. It's ok to want to say "all I can think about right now is eating an entire box of reeses puffs with a spoonful of peanut butter with every bite". It's ok to say "f**k, I binged last night. I feel like a fat piece of sh** and I'm so disappointed and disgusted in myself. I feel gross, look gross, I cant wait till tomorrow so I can just start again". And of course it's ok to say "DAMN IM LOOKING FINE TODAY. I beat my binge last night, and I feel great. I lost a pound, my abs are starting to show, I'm energized, I feel sexy"! No matter what you're feeling or thinking about yourself - everyone has those thoughts. Every thought I've wrote in this article, I have said to myself at one point in time. So it's ok to vent about yourself.
I know some of this might have been tough to read. There are a lot of harsh truths in this article that you might have found out about me and yourself. But that's how you will beat this. You need to be harsh. You can't just keep binging and think that it's ok and you'll start tomorrow, because you won't. Like I stated at the beginning, binge eating is a viscous disorder that will lead you down a path of self-loathing and disgust, until you finally can't take it anymore. So do something about it. Don't let it take you to that point. Don't waste anymore of your life because of food or your weight. Yes, food is necessary for survival, but don't let it control your life.
- Coach Nat
If you need any more advice, or just need to vent, please reach out to me! I'm here for you.