Saturday, March 14, 2009

Secret Longings

Weird things go on in the head of a person with a food addiction. That's what I call it, sometimes. Other times, I call it a binge eating disorder. Either way, the thoughts are bizarre.

Some days when I am doing fine and eating healthy, I get these flashes of longing for the binge. It is the craziest thing; I can be fine, eating my salad or whatever, and suddenly I will think of a food (yesterday it was Oreos) or read a post on a message board (about someone who binged) and I get this faint, wistful feeling. It's not a *thought,* per se. I don't think, "wow, I want some Oreos." I am not talking about the cravings we all get, where you *want* something and it drives you batty until you either get over it or eat it. This is different. It's the feeling you get when you catch a glimpse of that old boyfriend walking down the street... the boyfriend you really did love. It's a longing, a tender feeling, that makes you just kind of sigh. Or the wistfulness in your heart when you come across an old photo of your best friend in college. Oh, those were the days. How much fun we had. What great times. Ah, to be young again. But for me, I get like that about foods, too. I get flashes of the way I used to feel when I'd sit with an entire package of Oreos by my side, grabbing five at a time, dipping them in milk, enjoying every last bit, until it was all gone, with nobody to tell me I'd had enough. Yeah, yesterday I just had that feeling pop up... the old "intimacy with a cookie sandwich" yearning. I didn't really want the Oreos. Or maybe I did. But it was more of a sense of wishing it could be like that again.

I want the food without the consequences. I want to binge until I am ready to pop (just because of the *feelings* involved in certain kinds of binges... pleasant feelings) and not gain weight. I wish I didn't want it, and I hope someday I don't. I love my healthy food, but if all foods were equally healthy and any amount would lead to a healthy weight, I'd be inhaling an entire cheesecake right now.

Some binges were unpleasant... usually the ones triggered by stress, anger, sadness. The mini-binges I have had while trying to lose weight are *always* miserable. There is nothing good about them. Yeah, I guess there are two kinds of binges: the stress binge and the happy binge. The stress binge is frantic and desperate. It's shoveling food in and not even tasting it, because you're trying to fill a hole or numb yourself out so you can cope. I don't miss *those* binges. It's the happy binge I sort of miss. The kind of binge that used to start with waking up in the morning and telling myself, "Self, you are going to get *anything* you want today! Sit back and relax, and prepare to be spoiled and pampered with food!" And then I'd just spend the day thinking, "Hmmm, what sounds good right now?" and whatever I'd come up with, I'd eat. I'd go to grocery store bakeries and pretend I was buying several desserts for my family to try for an upcoming party. "Yes, could I get one of those mousse cups? Hmmm, and a Nanaimo bar. And one of those truffles there. And a custard cup, and a slice of cake. And if I need to order, say, 30 of any of these items for an event, how much notice would you need?" What a nerd.

I'd spend the day eating, pleasing the senses, being stuffed. But then I'd wake up in serious pain... headache, joints hurting, body aching all over, and I'd say, "that's it. I have to stop eating like that. I have got to lose weight!" And it got to the point where it was just too miserable to continue on. Much like a drunk or a drug addict who hits rock bottom and decides enough is enough. Got to quit. Now.

Maybe on some level, people with alcohol or drug addictions sometimes get that wistful longing feeling about the pleasant parts of using. Maybe sometimes they miss being able to just "check out" and leave their problems behind, and find pleasure in their substance of choice. Maybe after years of being clean and sober, those feelings go away. I don't know. I quit drinking when I was 17 so I would not end up an alcoholic like my mother and some of her family. But I never saw the food-abuse issue, even after my Mom quit drinking and went from skinny to morbidly obese. I didn't get it.

So that's my scary secret. The frightening thing, for me, is that even after weeks or months of eating healthy, avoiding junk, and feeling GREAT... being high energy, happier, lighter, in less pain... I still read a sentence about *someone else's* binge and I wish it was me doing that.

Today was a good day.
Breakfast: Chai tea, Egg Beater omelet with salsa, mushrooms and lite mozzarella, 1 slice wheat toast, and 3 strawberries, with green tea.
Snack: apple
Lunch: leftover Thai green chicken curry. I made this for dinner last night (chicken breast, bamboo shoots, and broccoli in a green curry sauce made from light coconut milk, over a small amount of brown rice). So good.
Snack: light cottage cheese with walnuts and agave nectar
Snack: 100-calorie microwave light butter popcorn
Dinner: homemade chicken Alfredo pizza with light mozzarella, and a side salad with light blue cheese dressing. Dessert was a hard candy Chocolate Parfait Nip.
Total calories: 1780

Hoping for a good loss on Monday.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog.
I'm struggling/against with a stress binge just now and appreciate your observations.
And cheer on your efforts on other days as well.


IRJessica said...

I hope the scale is good to you Monday too!

spunkysuzi said...

I know how that feels! I still have some pleasant thoughts about binge eating even though i haven't done it for a while! I try to focus on the negative memories more.

Chubby Chick said...

I think I've had stress binges, happy binges, and every other kind of binge under the sun! I've been an emotional eater my entire life... and to cease that behavior is no easy task. But it IS possible. And I totally believe in you and know that you're becoming stronger with each victory. I'd like to think that I am, too.

We're in this together, girl! Here's to a loss on Monday! :)

Deb said...

"I want the food without the consequences."

Jesus, Mary, and Josheph, can I ever relate to that sentence.

I have made myself sick to the point of throwing up with my binge-eating....not purging intentionally, just my own body physically rejecting the ridiculous amounts of food I would stuff into it.

I have doubled my body weight because of my binge-eating.

And yet most of the times my biggest wish is that I could continue to eat the way I do without the negative repurcussions.

I wonder if alcoholics or drug addicts ever feel this way?

Tena said...

I feel that way sometimes, wishing I could just eat as much of something (like oreos)and having no consequences! I just like to eat! But now that I've resisted the urge to binge on some of the junk I used to eat I don't have acid reflux at night. I don't wake up in the middle of the night tasting what ever I had pigged out on that day.

I still get that dreamy feeling though when I pass the bakery in Kroger's and smell that bread. So I think you're right about it being like any other user, we remember the euphoric feeling from the sugar, like a junkie remembers their last high.

ani pesto said...

I totally get binge-envy too. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) at the moment a couple of very stressful binges are far too fresh and painful in my memory though.

Good luck for Monday.

JJS said...

Why is it that your blog posts always correspond with something I am dealing with at the moment! (that's a good thing!)

I bought some chocolate chip cookies at Whole Foods for the kids. Last night, I just wanted to sit with a tall glass of cold milk and eat the entire box of them. I miss the days when I would eat an entire bag of cookies.

I ended up eating 1 serving of cookies instead (it fit into my calorie budget). It wasn't nearly as satisfying as eating all of them, but I was able to resist that urge to binge.

Keep up the good work Lyn!

Ria said...

I know exactly what you mean . . . I have the same feelings, but for me they are about cigarettes instead of food. I've been quit now for almost two years and have absolutely no interest in becoming a smoker again, but certain circumstances bring back a really nostalgic longing for one.

jen said...

Quick question: do you ever ask yourself exacly what you'd like, or what you'd like to do, and then do/get that with anything but food? Maybe that is what you miss, the feeling of giving yourself exactly what you want.

Heather said...

ah yes, I definitely still get those sometimes. but, I think the key to turning it around is not to want those things without the consequences, but not to want them at all. sometimes what I think I want isnt what I really want or my body wants. I had an experience on friday with some cadbury mini eggs and discovered that I dont like them anymore and they make me sick! I thought that I wanted them and could almost taste them in my mouth beforehand. and then I was very disapointed. so its about changing what you want.

Annie said...

Keep up the good work Lyn! I read your blog every day and it keeps me on track. You are so brave.

Question- for breakfast, how do you drink chai and green tea? do you have one before breakfast and one during?


Lyn said...


Yes, I think part of it is wanting to have *anything* I want, but I can't afford most stuff I want. Food goes under the "necessary expense" category, even if it is a box of donuts. My husband won't complain if I buy a cheesecake or ice cream, but if I buy bath stuff of get a pedicure, then I am "wasting money" and it's an issue. That's part of it.


Every morning when I wake up, I make myself a cup of Chai. While it's brewing I drink 16 oz of water. Then I sit down with my Chai, try to wake up, read emails, etc. After I wake up and am hungry, maybe an hour later, I make breakfast and my beverage with the food is green tea.

Lee said...

I wonder if food addiction or binge eating is addressed as a consequence of being a so-called adult child of an alcoholic...

You are really delving into some deep issues. Admire your honesty and strength.

My Big Fat Super Super Obese Blog said...

I completely know what you are talking about on a couple of levels. After what I went through with my mom, I usually get physically ill around cigarette smoke, but sometimes I smell it or see someone smoking on tv and I get wistful for the smell that usually meant I had family near (since they all smoked). I've also had the same wistful feelings for the happy binges. you really have a great way of expressing yourself.

Sheila said...

Your posts are so insightful and real. I Believe there is a book deal in your future. For real.

Anonymous said...

I've had the exact same feelings reading your posts about binging. The last mini binge that you posted about just made me want to EAT. I didn't say anything because how crazy is that? I don't understand it. I know that I feel miserable when I'm too full and yet, I still fantasize about going out one day to my favorite places and ordering my favorite things to eat at home in private. Just today my SO had Marble Slab ice cream after dinner and he gave the rest of his ice cream to finish up. I had 3 bites and gave it back. He didn't want it so I threw it in the trash. Immediately I said, "Wow, I haven't done that before!" The urge to dig it out was SO strong right after I said that. But I didn't, we have choices to make and today I made good ones!


kristisummer said...

stay strong. great job with eating today. some days are going to be harder than others, but if you stay focused then that is all that matters.

redballoon said...

I can understand your longings for a binge. Why not? They were pleasurable for you. Nothing wrong with wanting pleasure. It's what we're made to do.
I guess we have to learn how to get pleasure some other way.
The other thing I was thinking and used to do was just take myself on an imaginary trip through a binge or whatever I wanted. You've been there, you can certainly conjure up all the feelings in your mind yet without the consequences. Nothing wrong with that. Why try to banish such longings? As long as you don't act on your thoughts, I'm all for them. Sure, some people may say that will drive you to act on it, but I totally disagree. Allowing yourself the thoughts can be a substitute that truly works.
Power to you, Lyn. You're doing great.

Anonymous said...

I think we All wish we could enjoy our addictions or coping strategies without repercussions. I'm quitting smoking and I feel like eating everything-not quite binge because I don't really want the food, but I allowed two cookies, now I've moved on to air-popped popcorn and mandarins, grapefruits and oranges. And, of course, all the carrots and bell peppers I care to eat. It's a fakeout, but I can't smoke which is what I want, so I eat.

jen said...

Ouch, that is terrible. I suppose there are ways to get around this "system" -- but I really hope you can find a way to change the dynamics of this relationship or leave it. No one should have to live like that.

Sara said...

This post really hits home for me!! The longest time I have gone without a binge since my food addiction started 7 years ago is 8 months. (The second longest time maybe 3 months). It's funny though...after so long without one, just like you, I started to long for those binges again! There was no intuitive eating for me...I wanted to eat until I was stuffed. I began to really miss that feeling (somehow my brain forgot about the pain that is left afterwards!) and almost felt like I needed a binge to happen again because I was beginning to forget I had even gone through that type of behavior and it scared me.
Everyday feels like a struggle sometimes. One choice at a time. You're not alone!

GastricGirl said...

I really related to your post, thanks for putting into words what so many of us feel!

You did have a great day, and I hope the scale cooperates with you :)

Doug said...


Anonymous said...

I think it's probably a near-universal desire among obese people that we could eat whatever we want, as much as we want, and not gain weight. But you are doing so well, and hopefully those feeling will eventually lessen, if not cease completely.

BTW, could you share your chicken green curry recipe? I love green curry, but it never tastes right when I make it!


Amy said...

Every time I read your blog, I am amazed at how much you "speak" to me.

I also feel like I am addicted to food, and I don't really know what to do about it.

It's very frustrating. I need a Betty Ford for food addiction, seriously!

bbubblyb said...

"I want the food without the consequences."

That jumped out at me too. I think all food addicts want this. Good post as always.

ArleneWKW said...

I'm coming to your blog via a link from Dinah Soar's recent post. Binging is definitely my biggest problem. I fall into binges after making decisions to eat certain off track foods. I don't start off wanting to binge, but I know darn well that I'll be vulnerable to binging once I get off track. The last time I got to my goal weight (and felt a degree of contempt for fat women for not having the self discipline I'd so recently demonstrated), I envied these same women their ability to eat whatever they wanted. Now I'm fatter than ever and not at all in control of my binging. I'll be checking out your blog again.

new*me said...

so much insight as always! You just have a way of putting it all into perspective. Hope your weigh in rocks today!

Barefoot Pixie said...

This was my post. I should have written it. It is exactly me. I do the same thing. I go weeks, even months doing great, feeling great, happy with my life changes, loving it all then all of a sudden I find myself standing in front of the candy at the store and feeling like my heart is broken because I've had to "break up" with my favorite lover.

As for your post about PB eggs, I have the same issue with Cadbury Creme Eggs. I've told myself that I can have ONE on Easter and none before or after. Thinking of never indulging in that favorite again makes me sad so I give myself permission to have one and let it go at that.