Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Binge Chronicle, and The Breaker

Here is something I wrote last night:
I am writing this immediately after the first binge episode I have had all month, but I am not posting it until tomorrow. Or later. I want to write so I can figure out what the heck happened.

It is Tuesday November 17. The last binge I had was very minor... a short burst of out-of-control eating. That was October 24th. Before that I had not binged in over a month. All other days, I have had full control of my eating. I have eaten reasonably, healthy, and stayed within my calorie limits. But today, I had a bad time.

It was not precipitated by any emotional crisis; I think I have learned to cope with that kind of thing in a better way (exercise, relaxing, feeling the feelings). But tonight after dinner... after a day of pretty healthy eating totaling about 1600 calories... I wanted to keep eating.

I left the table. I went to do other things.
All I could think about was FOOD. I wanted chips. My husband had purchased a rather large bag of "baked veggie chips"... and really, I think he had good intentions this time. He didn't bring candy or cookies or muffins. He didn't bring his favorite potato chips and dip. He got these baked things, and told me they are baked and made from veggies and all. So I think he was trying.
But I got into the chips a bit. I ate just a few. I don't think THEY "triggered" me. In fact, I don't think any food or emotional issue triggered this binge.
I think it was physical. I felt hungry, I felt like I wanted to munch on stuff. I distinctly WANTED to just eat and eat and eat.
I think that happened because I am mid cycle, I am ready to drop a few pounds, and my body is aiming for a stable weight which would require me to increase my calories.
Anyway, none of that matters except that I believe any trigger was physical and internal, not mental or emotional or a tripped fuse from having sugar or carbs. It felt different. Like my body wanted it... not my mind. Not my inner tantrum girl.
Or perhaps, I have some underlying fears of losing weight that I need to address. Almost subconscious stuff. But I'll get to that later.
So I had those chips, just a few. I was dying for chocolate. I suddenly thought of those stupid peanut butter meltaways that have sat, untouched, in my cabinet for weeks, not bothering me in the slightest.
You know you have an issue when you are walking around with a wrapped peanut butter meltaway stuck in your cleavage to make it warm and melty.
I ate it. I wanted the other dozen. But I did NOT WANT it mentally. I kept going to do other things, drinking glasses of water. I figured I'd eat a bowl of shredded wheat to get the "eating" desire to subside, and then I'd bike extra long tonight.
One bowl turned into two very big bowls of shredded wheat with milk.
And though my stomach was full to the point of pain, I ate another peanut butter meltaway, then a few more chips, a slice of cheese, a piece of pizza, and then another meltaway. I frantically threw the rest of the candy at my teenaged sons (they were thrilled).
My stomach HURTS. It really hurts, I feel sick. I used to eat 3-4 times this volume in a binge and not ever feel full or sick. I even considered trying to throw up because the food is almost coming back up as it is. I feel absolutely sick. But I am not good at throwing up. If I was, I'd have been bulimic a long time ago.
So I sit here having heart palpitations from the binge. I have a lot of feelings, like guilt, embarrassment, shame. Anger at myself. Disappointment. My guts are rumbling. I have not felt this bad in months.

Well, ok. In half an hour I am going to get on my bike and ride for at least 30 minutes... more if I can do so without injuring myself. I did count all of my calories and today I consumed 3314.

In the midst of all this, I was actually emailing with a dear friend who was trying to talk me down. She did a fantastic job but in the end I just felt like I *had* to give in. I do not get this part. And I know if I had not had candy or cereal in the house, I would have binged on anything, from low fat cheese to fiber rich crackers to plain yogurt. It was one of *those* feelings. It wasn't really about the candy or the cereal. It was about the eating itself.

I have an eating disorder and it is obviously not *cured.*
I am hanging onto the pride I still have that instead of bingeing on a daily basis, I have gotten down to... so far... once a month. I am pretty sure I have never gone longer than a month without a binge, so that is my next goal.

I have no wisdom for you tonight. But I am not in a sugar fog. Not yet... and not ever. This isn't pretty but it doesn't change my journey. I am, as of this very SECOND, on track, eating healthy, continuing with my life in a respectable manner. I still feel as confident as I did yesterday and as determined and committed as I have all month. Just a blip in the journey with the same destination.

And here is what I have to say this morning.
There is a major victory for me, here, that I almost missed until I got a very timely email from a friendly reader last night. She wrote to me because she had been "on plan" for several months and then fell apart and started to binge this week. We all know the HUGE struggle it is... the momentum from *either* way of eating just builds and drives itself, so that one slip-up can easily turn into another, and another, and another until BOOM, we have regained all our lost weight and are back in that pit of despair trying to "claw our way out." Boy, do I know that feeling. Go back, read my blog from August 2008 until September 2009 and see how I was busy fighting and clawing and struggling with the stupid binge eating. It always took *so much* effort to revert back to healthy eating once I had "fallen off" for a day.

This lovely person who emailed me last night said she wished she could just reach down and flip a switch or throw a breaker to stop the bad eating and be back to the healthy eating mindset. Oh, how often I wished that! If only I could throw a breaker after a binge and be right back on plan instead of struggling for days, weeks months...

And then it hit me.

I *have* thrown the breaker! Miracle of miracles, I do not have to claw my way out anymore. It IS like there is a breaker to throw for me now. I threw it last month after my one mini-binge, and I threw it last night immediately after my rather large binge. I got up, blogged it, shrugged off the negative feelings of hurt, anger, and disappointment, and I used my own *power* to throw that switch. Got on my bike and rode hard for 40 minutes. Put some oats in the crockpot for a healthy breakfast in the morning. Went to bed feeling *exactly* like I felt the night before, and the night before, and the night before... hopeful, happy, excited to be on this journey. The binge did not become a detour. There really IS a breaker! It took me two years of clawing but you know what?? I think I've really found that breaker switch.

I am telling you this because it is something I never believed would have happened. I thought I'd always have to be *scared* of one bad meal or one binge because it would set me off for days or weeks and I would gain the weight back. I don't think it is just ME. I think this is something we ALL can reach, simply by continuing to get back up after we fall and claw our way out of the pit. Maybe just the act of clawing out of that deep pit has thrown enough dirt down in the bottom that, over time, the pit becomes less and less deep until it's shallow enough to stand up and just step out of. I hope this makes sense. I want to convey that this morning the scale is up 2 pounds but I feel AS HAPPY and determined and successful as I did when it was down 2 pounds. The negativity is gone, the guilt is gone. So what, 2 pounds? It'll be gone in a few days. But *I* won't be gone. I will be right here, eating healthy, counting calories, exercising, doing the work it takes to conquer this eating disorder.

Yeah, the ultimate goal is to *never* have a binge, but if we slip, we gotta get right back up. Get up as soon as possible. Fight and claw. Because someday, after a couple of months or years of fighting, you might just find that breaker switch. And that makes life SO much easier!


susie said...

Thank you for your blog - I have so many of the same feelings, struggles, issues. I have recommitted myself, and I am down 6 pounds this month, but it is day by day. I am trying to learn new coping mechanisms, but sometimes it seems I'm eating before I even realize I've reached for the food. I know now that this is not a character flaw, it is a true addiction. It is something I have struggled with my entire life. Getting a few weeks under my belt makes me feel more powerful. Each day I climb that hill. Thank you for sharing your journey.

Tamara said...

Wow- I wish I could reach through the screen and hug you right now! I sincerely appreciate you being so open about your experiences, including the occasional binge. I've lost over 90 pounds with a healthy diet and exercise, going from a size 20 to a size 8 and I STILL (as recent as this past weekend) struggle with occasional binging.

And I totally identify with your situation from last night; my binges also tend to be less emotional and more about just wanting to physically eat and eat and eat some more. It's frustrating, but it's also comforting to know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

I'm trying not to ramble here, but this post spoke to me on such a deep, personal level that I couldn't help but take the time to comment. And your closing words were exactly what I needed to hear this week. The hardest part in recovering from a binge for me is forgiving myself and moving on from the guilt. But knowing that my "pit" can (and will!) get shallower over time and that yes, I do in fact have a breaker switch, puts everything into a fresh new perspective.

Thank you! Everything you've written (not just this post, but your entire blog) has been a tremendous help and truly inspiring.

Vickie said...

loved the 'breaker switch' analogy.

barely steamed so that they still have 'crunch' green beans is my go to 'volume' food.

brussel sprouts - also slightly undercooked - no soggy.

I think that getting to the point where things do not sink us, we do not fall into days of 'poor me' or woulda-shoulda-coulda is a BIG IMPORTANT step.

Steelers6 said...

Wow, Lyn, I am so delighted by everything you processed here. Going right to the laptop and typing the night of the binge was smart, and it was *progress*. Really. It is baby steps here, but they are possibly getting to be larger strides for you. Them thar binges can't keep you down anymore!

I think it is so useful and helpful for you to be putting it all out in words.

Wow, you didn't really even claw your way out of the pit, you HOPPED out! Progress!!! Chrissy

Seren_Sighs said...

I've had my struggles with binge eating before. I've never had terrible binges, but I have had them and I suffered from binge episodes from June til October this year.

I decided at one point that I would not weigh myself until I was binge free for two weeks. It was hard, but I wanted to weigh myself more than I wanted to binge.

And when I finally did weigh myself I found that I gained four pounds. Which was upsetting. But working on my binging was more important. I haven't binged since then because I'm out of the habit now and I've worked more on my emotions. I'm lucky that I didn't have a severe case of it so two weeks was enough for me to get a handle on it for right now.

So I understand to a degree how breaking free from binging is more important than weight loss or weight gain. I think you did the right thing and even though you still have a few episodes you know you won't let them get you off track.

Nancy said...

I love reading your blog. Everything you write hits home with me. Thank you.

PamL said...

Hey Lyn, I get the same feeling mid-cycle too. I do think our bodies tell us when we need more food. So maybe you can just plan on having a couple of days at the higher end of your calorie range when you know it is going to be mid-cycle. Your body might really need more at that time. It's good to listen to what your body is telling you because you are doing the right thing! And sometimes, it just helps to go to bed (but I don't know what time it was) and get away from any and all food! :)

Lissa said...

So sorry you had an attack, Lyn, but very brave of you to recount is so honestly -- as is your wont! Climb right back on the healthy-living horse, honey!

Sarabei said...

Congrats, Lyn! Not about the binge, of course. I think it's pretty unrealistic to think those aren't going to happen. But congrats on the way you've dealt with it! That has been the most important thing I've learned from reading your blog - not to let one thing; 1 meal, 1 binge, 1 day of not working out like you'd planned mess up the whole system. You're doing great - keep it up!

Jill said...

Hi Lyn,

This is the type of binge that I have sometimes - just wanting to eat and eat, not unhappily, just wanting to eat. Not sure if you like it, but light microwave popcorn helps me quite a bit. It's maybe not the healthiest option ever, but you can eat the whole bag for under 250 calories, and it feels like a lot of food. When I want sweet, I do light microwave kettle corn, and when I don't want sweet, light microwave regular popcorn.

Now that your body is normalizing, you may begin to "expect" this type of feeling mid-cycle, and if you do, then you can prepare for it by having high-volume, low-calorie foods available ahead of time, as a mid-cycle "treat." Maybe some broth-based soup or cut-up veggies would help. Or just a general awareness that you need to start having larger-volume meals around this time of the month.

Good luck, and good job handling this and moving on!

Margie M. said...

Please don't feel shame of all things. You're doing a wonderful job of addressing your eating problems and trying to "do it better next time". I'm never in a menstrual cycle anymore (58 yrs. old) but sometimes I just want to EAT. The feelings just won't go away and I imagine I'm really hungry. That's all I can do is think about food. Usually, I feed myself something along a more healthy line, but I still overeat. I give it time and usually it lasts a few hours and is gone. I like how you manage to work these things out and climb out of that pit and move on. Good for you.

Shhh said...

Do you find that your binges happen around PMS time? I only ask because the week before my period I am actually physically ravenous.

Lyn said...


yeah, I get cravings during PMS but I get super hungry and want to eat at mid-cycle. I am marking it on my planner so I can see WHEN I get like this and plan for it next month.

Cynthia said...

I am a binge eater, so I can really relate to this post. I would say that I have made progress. I binge eat far less often than I used to. And as often as not, when I do binge, I am eating real food and not processed junk. (Almonds anyone? Reduced fat string cheese? Big mounds of greens?)

But I have not broken free of binge eating yet. It still happens sometimes. Sometimes I start on a binge and manage to stop myself. Other times I don't stop.

Yet, when I do binge, I just move on the next day, much like you. So maybe the breaker is being thrown for me finally. I sure hope so.

I don't know if the urge to binge will ever be cured for me, but I do know that I can fight tooth and claw to be normal in between.

I recently read a book, called "Naturally Thin" by Bethenny Frankel. Some of the book strikes me as common sense, some strikes me as actually slightly disordered eating. But one thing stuck and that was her phrase "Check yourself before you wreck yourself" in regards to binge eating.

I think binge eating is a form of self-hatred in a way. It feels good at the moment, but after, it can hurt both physically and mentally. So the phrase above is really helping when that urge starts to come. Because I do love myself and I DON'T want to wreck myself. And even if I do binge, I'm not going to hate myself for it. I'm simply going to move on.

Thanks for writing this post... it helped.

flyingwoman said...

It's funny how your posts always echo my day. I was just having a conversation with my sister about learning the ability to fail successfully. It's like your breaker. It's the ability to recognize what's happened and mindfully let it go and get back on track. Making the failure not another excuse to fall apart, because falling apart just leads to more failure.

I had a big breakthrough tonight on a very personal issue. I remembered a critical binging moment I had in a very dark hour I had when I was a kid. I uncovered emotions that I'd long buried or rationalized and realized that those emotions are big thorns under the skin that have chafed and dug at me for well on thirty years.

Knowing is half the battle, but too bad it's only half, huh? Strength, Lyn... I'm proud of you.

Tammy said...

How funny, I'm sitting here catching up on your posts, when I see I have an email, and it's YOU posting on MY blog, lol.

Thank God you found the switch...that is KEY. The last binge I had was a few months back (2 or 3 months, can't remember). It had to do with thoughts of the child I gave up for adoption when I was a teenager, and the binge lasted 2 days. To tell you the truth, I didn't want to stop bingeing when the 3rd day rolled around...I wanted to keep eating. But I knew I NEEDED to stop before I unraveled the rope I'd been weaving to climb out of Hell with. I cannot even tell you how HARD it was to get back in the right mindset on that 3rd day...I felt like I'd been on a year-long straight binge. It was that tough. But I made it out, and thank goodness, haven't binged since. Progress, my friend...progress.

screwdestiny said...

You know, I don't think one binge a month is bad. Obviously you want to get to the point where you're not binging, but it's not going to hurt you. It'd be like someone saying they had one day in the month where they ate great, healthy food, and stayed within their calorie limit. If it was only one day, that's not going to do anything for their weight. And neither is one binge. I'm sorry that you're still not completely over your disorder, but you've taken it down to the point where it's not keeping you from living healthy and losing weight. Good job, Lyn.

Anonymous said...

"but in the end I just felt like I *had* to give in. I do not get this part. And I know if I had not had candy or cereal in the house, I would have binged on anything, from low fat cheese to fiber rich crackers to plain yogurt. It was one of *those* feelings. It wasn't really about the candy or the cereal. It was about the eating itself."

Hell, THAT sounds familiar!

My thoughts are that sometimes, just sometimes, we have to give in to that urge to eat...and eat...and go with it.

I know that sounds stupid, but for me, it makes sense, because like you Lyn, I think I have a handle on it. We derive comfort from's pleasurable. I really don't understand those people who will ALWAYS and with no resentment, choose lettuce leaves over a piece of meat in a creamy sauce. How do they get to be like that?

It puzzles me, but I conclude that they have never, even as children, been particularly interested (obsessed?)in food and eating as a way of providing 'treats'.

For me, over-eating brings such self-hatred. It's the self-hatred I have to banish, and I tell myself I am human, and prone to falling. I also comfort myself with the knowledge that I am making much healthier choices regarding food. I know there will be times when something sweet fatty and completely unhealthy will tempt me beyond endurance and I will give in and have it. However, I have it with the knowledge that I am not a bad person or a complete failure and that my resolve to be healthier and thinner is stronger than my desire to pig-out.

Tomorrow is another day and having the strength to get on track again is what it's all about I think.

Lyn, you called it a 'blip'. That's what it is...and that's what I am sure all of us on this path will have...again and again. It's knowing we are human, that we have got the capacity to be in control that is the real breakthrough.

I know sometimes my body just CRAVES something I shouldn't include in my diet. When that craving just won't go away, I think of every strategy at my disposal to beat it. If the craving remains I reckon sometimes it's better to go with the moment - knowingly, consciously - than live with excruiating denial that will see us stuff everything within sight into our faces for days...and leave us feeling complete failures.

I think the 'complete' denial, as far as food and 'diet' are concerned leads us to failure. Just because we want to lose weight and eat healthily we don't become paragons of virtue...gastronomic saints. Eventually we learn that we are in control. We might fall of the wagon..but now it's only occasionally and we have enough puff to lumber after it...and enough strength to clamber back on.

One day at a time....

NutriAngel said...

Indeed, it's the emotional attachment to food that can be hard to break unless you know what the triggers are. This is why I do not subscribe to the food addiction model. If you are 'addicted' to food, alcohol, shooping or whatever, there is always and I mean always an underlying emotion and unless that is dealt with, you will find yourself in a destructive cycle of tempation, giving in, feeling guilty, dieting and binging.

Vickie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vickie said...

delete was me - had to fix a sentence.

I don't know if this will interest you, if it bothers you, just let it go, but this is what occurred to me after reading your posting again:

you wrote it and then waited. And then after you had a chance to let the rawness of it subside, you added more thoughts and posted.

your style was reflective,
the rawness was still there from your initial DEALING with it. But the tone changed, you had experienced, learned and applied and all three phases were there in this posting.

I am a reflective writer most of the time.

It started when I was NOT EVEN and I simply did not want to take readers on my roller coaster ride with me. Because that period of time was awful.

But what I realized was that in writing reflectively - I learned a heck of a lot more from what I was saying (to myself in my postings).

That is when I started writing my posts ahead of time. so that I had a least a day to 'sit' with the feelings.

Not at all saying that this is what you should do - just saying that this is what I thought about as I was reading your words.

AND it also totally changed the nature of the comments that I received.

When the rawness was gone and I was reflective with all the pieces there - I stopped getting the types of comments that BOTHERED ME. I still got very insightful comments. But I now get NO comments that have a negative impact on me.

I read you every single day. I recognize many stages that you go through. Some I have already experienced. Some I need to revisit. Some are probably still ahead of me.

happyfunpants said...

Way to go, lady!

I have to tell you that when I'm in the "binge mentality" I've binged on anything. I remember sitting down with an entire bunch of bananas and eating one right after the other until I thought I would explode.

When you're in that feeling of despair, nothing feels worse - or better than food. It's like finally getting to scratch the itch that's been building.

BUT I also am finding clarity through healthier living. And sure, maybe I'll mess up again.

My goal has really ceased being to NOT mess up again.

My goal has been to accept myself and love myself even if it does happen. And to love myself enough to get back on the clean living wagon faster each time.

What I've found with my new goal is that the binges are further apart and they are shorter in duration.

We will get through this. In the meantime, thank you for posting your real story - it would've been easier to glaze over it, but your candor provides a lot of help to a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, in all honesty, giving in to the pleasure of food once a month isn't that horrible. I give myself a meal or two a week where I just eat whatever I want. But then again, an alcoholic can't enjoy the occassional drink(s) like the rest of us and still be ok either.

Lyn said...


I agree. In fact, if you look back over my food this month you'll see I have "the pleasure of food" pretty much daily. I go out to eat. I enjoy my favorites. I have some really amazing, delicious foods.

But the binge was not about the pleasure of food. Sure, the piece of frozen pizza, the cereal, the candy tasted okay but I can have those anytime I want in moderation. It was the out-of-control nature of the eating and going to a volue of food that made me SICK that is not healthy.

Anonymous said...

At least focus on the positive- you ate a lot less than during your previous "binges" and hey, everyone slips up once in a while. Please don't ever try to make yourself sick. I've been bulimic since I was 12 and it is a living hell, I had a heart attack before I was 20! SO not worth it. Stay healthy and strong.

Duddes02 said...

I don't kow if you read comments to older blogs- but I wanted to suggest that perhaps you should keep a chocolate chips around instead of the peanut butter meltaway. Sounds crazy, but a few choc. chips will TOTALLY cure a chocolate craving. You can mix the chocolate chips with natural peanut butter if you are really craving a PB/Choc mixture.