Wednesday, December 16, 2009

You Know It's A Binge When...

You know it's a binge when...

-you stop counting calories
-you lose count of how many pieces of pizza you ate
-you guzzle orange juice instead of water
-you eat globs of cream cheese straight off the knife
-you break into your kids' Christmas candy and eat some of it
-you pour yourself a bowl of trail mix when you don't even LIKE trail mix and it is 250 calories for 3 TABLESPOONS
-you consider eating the leftover Halloween candy
-you make a big cup of coffee loaded with sugar and cream at 8pm
-you want Ritz but there are no Ritz so you eat some crackers you don't even like
-you eat most of the above in private, carefully sneaking around so no one will see you
-you feel incredibly ill and guilt-ridden
-you go to bed with heartburn and wake up with a headache
-you gain 2 pounds overnight

Yes. It happened again. I feel absolutely angry, sad, and disappointed in myself. Last night I felt sick, still. I had eaten very little all day... on the order of 350 calories (first mistake). Then in the evening it hit me. I HAD to eat, I wanted carbs, I wanted fat and sugar. I tried to tame it and eat reasonable amounts but before I could blink an eye I was shoveling food into my mouth with abandon. It really pisses me off.

For three months I have been writing notes on a small paper planner: how many calories I eat each day, my weight, my exercise, my mood, days I feel extra hungry, and my binges. I've always logged calories and weight on Sparkpeople, but this paper journal has given me new insight, especially as I look at it this morning. What I noticed:

My eating is almost directly related to my female cycle/hormones. For the first 2 weeks of each month, my eating has been pristine! It is *easy* for me to eat 1200-1600 calories a day. I *never* go over. I feel great, I lose 4 or 5 pounds during that first 2 weeks. Then, midcycle, I seem to crash. EVERY binge or out-of-control eating session in the past 3 months has been right after the middle of my cycle. Every single one! The third week of the month is torture for me. I am hungry, moody, tired, and pacing around wanting to overeat. I gain weight during that week. Then the last week of the month, I get a grip (although it is not as easy as the first two weeks) and drop a couple pounds back off.

Why?? I don't really get this, but I think it *must* be hormone-related. I'm going to be doing some research on female hormone cycles, which hormones hit when, and the known effects of those hormones. And then I will try and make a plan to prevent the insanity *next* month.

I am disappointed, but I am also aware that having a binge or two per month, at a certain time of month, is far, FAR better than my "old" life of bingeing almost daily. The months of eating whole cakes and pint after pint of ice cream and whole packages of hot dogs and Cheetos... those days are gone. I am so thankful. When I was eating like that, I once gained 40 pounds in 3 months. And I once gained 80 pounds in about 10 months. I think if I had not stopped when I did, I'd be either completely immobile or dead by now. So I am quite thankful for the progress I've made.

Another thought I've had... my binge was not triggered by any emotional *event* yesterday. It was sheer *desire to stuff food into my mouth*... it was internal, body-driven, and not thought-driven. Not sure what difference that makes, but I'll note it for future reference.

Goal: no more binges or out-of-control eating this month. I do *feel* like overeating today, but I am going to do my best to control it and feel myself high volume, high nutrition, low calorie foods like roasted broccoli today. And I *think* I feel better enough (from my sickness) to bike tonight.

Keep on working at it... we'll get it right.


Dances with Corgis said...


I've been following your blog for a few months (and cheering on your progresses and enjoying your revelations!)...

I have to wonder- have you read "The End of Overeating" by David Kessler? He basically breaks down the science behind why we crave sugar, fat and salt combinations. It's a *great* book and could really help with binges.

I saw him speak a while back, you can read about it here:

As for your post-binge- just get some exercise today and let it fade into the past.

Stay well,

Kisha said...

Hello! I just found your blog...amazing. This post in particular really spoke to me, as I just binged last night. I am so in awe of your bravery to post everything for the world to see...I wish I had half that strength! Keep going, chick, you're doing great!

Enz said...

I think it's great you've been tracking this so you've found a pattern and now can work on a plan for next month. That's half the battle.

Let us know what you come up with.


Izzybee said...

That's exactly my pattern! I have eating problems slap bang in the middle of my cycle - in fact, I would say I have more "PMS" when I'm supposedly ovulating than I do when I'm supposed to have PMS...

You're not alone!

Anonymous said...

the pacing, how I hate that! Don't know what it is, just can't seem to settle myself some days. grrr! I think I eat when I am in a pacing mood too, I have tried to replace it with some other activity just to go straight to the kitchen eat wrong then back to pacing. I wonder if men do this, or if it is a woman hormone thing? Understanding why we overeat and when has helped me so much, if you find anything new on the hormone/eating thing let us all in on the secret. We can't be the only ones, can we? The main thing is understand it and try to quickly move are fantastic, I would have never thought that I could find someone who can voice these things that I didn't even know I felt. Very thought provoking, a BIG THANK YOU ♥ Eva

Anonymous said...

I just had one of those days yesterday....sigh. Why do we eat stuff we don't even like?!? I find that it is always hard to put that monster back in the closet once I let him out. Dealing with him once he is out, is still a challenge for me. I wish you luck, and I admire your desire to get control of it. Facing it, and seeing the binge for what it is, is the best first step. Before you know it, you will have more control over it! I totally related to this post...thanks for putting it out there! You are not alone!! :)

hmmmm said...

just a stab in the dark here, but have you had your insulin levels checked? not the blood sugars or the h-a-something-or-other. for years i had problems, but the blood sugar levels and h-thingy tests were perfectly fine. i threw a temper tantrum and made the doc give me the insulin test, and low and behold.........and the hormone issues slowly began to resolve themselves when i treated the insulin issue

happyfunpants said...


I feel for you - because I have been there. Hell, we've ALL been there. The thing that sucks so badly is that it really doesn't have anything to do with your mindset or your resolve. It has to do with hormones and those things do a serious number on some/most women.

I have found that I'm particularly sensitive to hormones and I have to watch with birth control I'm on - no generics for me. Even then, I have (what sounds like) the same desire as you to eat and eat...but mine is right before my period.

I am so thankful that you were able to think through this logically.

I also know that you can go to the doctor to get your hormone levels checked - which may be a good idea during this time of the month. And then at least you're dealing with facts and hopefully you can let go of the guilt.

That's the worst part of a binge, isn't it? The damage that's done AFTER it's done.

Hugs to you - keep your chin up and know that you are not alone, this will be resolved, and you are loved!

Margie M. said...

I can relate to the list you posted today. I've done all of them myself over the years. Happy Fun Pants is right...we ALL have, and that's why we blog about it, try to do better, actually DO better. It's a process and a journey. I'm 58 now, and still have those issues from time to time with wanting to just binge myself into oblivion, even though I'm not actually "hormonal" as you young folks are. The desire eventually passes, just as it did in your case. I always look for your new posts, and I enjoy them very much, and learn from them each day.

karen@fitnessjourney said...

It's good that you can pinpoint the cause-your hormonal cycles. Do you get a lot of severe PMS type symptoms besides? If you haven't seen a professional about this, it would be a good idea. Maybe chart when the binges occur so that you can show the data to your physician and he or she can help you to better control the binges.

Ironlady said...

I was going to recommend the same book - David Kessler's the end of overeating. David Kessler was the former head of the FDA and has a lot of inside information on the food companies. Just read the first few pages on and you will see that it's not just about a lack of willpower - that is only small portion of the equation - but the food itself, triggers strong chemical reactions that encourage binges. It is an eye-opening book. Most of the libraries carry it. I think it helps to understand why we do what we do and not to beat ourselves up too much about it, but instead, to find a permanent solution.

The Brown Recluse said...

I can really relate to everything on the, so deeply relate.

As I was reading, I was going to say shake it off, pick up and go on. No need! That's what you've done. I am cheering you on, and so glad you are putting it here so that I can be inspired by your journey.

theantijared said...

The point is you knew it was a binge.

It is over....

Now move on.

Kyle Gershman said...

Turn your dissapointment into determination...don't get mad at yourself, just get active at moving forward...let's just say that it was part of your plan and that you will also plan to exercise more and redouble your efforts. It wasn't a failure, it was part of your process. did this to inspire yourself...brilliant really.

mommie2lea said...

Have you been spying on me?!? I could have written that post almost word for word.

I'm sorry that you struggle with the binge monster, too. I think your plan for taming it this month is a good one.

BTW, your progress is very inspiring!

Anonymous said...

I used to worry, when you posted that you were on a roll and feeling powerful, what would happen if you slipped. No more! What a powerful example you are of productive self-examination! Thanks for that!


Leslie said...

Hey Lyn,

I think you are one of the most honest, MOST courageous blogger I've ever read.... I've read your blog religiously since you started - EVERY post, and your journey speaks to me on so many levels.

I think it's great that you've been able to pinpoint WHEN and WHY these binges happen - what a huge step! Once you figure out what's going on in your body and what these physical triggers you are, you'll be on your way to being binge free - I'm sure of it!

Besides the other books that have been suggested, have you ever read Jillian Michaels' *Master Your Metabolism*? She explains how hormones affect your metabolism and your ability to lose weight... it's quite scientific and VERY thorough and she has suggestions on how to make your body work for you.. it may help you create a game plan for that difficult 3rd week!


Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

I'd really encourage you to eat smaller amounts more often. It feels like I'm eating all the time, and I recently charted out the calories of a typical day just because I was convinced that I was consuming too much.

Also, for me, consuming a little bit of something I shouldn't have just stokes the fire. If I'm partaking of something like that, I measure it out and then think it through. In the case of your chex mix example, seeing the measly amount for the high calorie/fat cost makes the decision a no-brainer.

Good luck getting this mess under control.

moonduster said...


It's in the past and can't be changed now,but tomorrow can be whatever you want it to be.

Kylie said...

Firstly, I love your blog. Thank you for your openess and honesty.
Binges - mine are DIRECTLY related to my cycle. The other night I kept saying to my husband how hungry I was. His response? "Is your period due soon?"
Yep - he nailed it! It's so tightly woven in witht he binge cycle that even he can see it...

Katie J said...

The blood sugar test is an Hba1c. It gives you a "snapshot" of your blood sugar levels for a period of time.

Anonymous said...

Hi there!

I have been avidly reading your blog for a long time now. I have to say, and I just wanted to tell you this, that I think you are one of the strongest, most honest, and most amazing women I've ever had the privilege of reading about on a blog. Your positive attitude, even on days where you don't feel the greatest, is inspiring. I hope this doesn't sound too cheesy, and I wish I had better words for it, but I strongly felt like I wanted to pass this on to you.

Keep on keepin' on. You are wonderful. :-)


Fattie Fatterton said...

It sucks to be a woman sometimes. I think that this is why men have much more success at losing weight and maintaining than we do.

But, recognizing the triggers is HUGE. Good for you!!

Anonymous said...

I could have written this blog entry. I am 39 and I eat exactly like you do during the month. It irritates me to no end. I know it is cycle/hormonal related. Just not sure what to do about it. You are are not alone.

By the way, I love your blog.

Marste said...

Delurking. :)

You have just described my recent experience to a tee (tea? T?). I'm just now realizing that the week before my period I start behaving like a rebellious child. It's like some part of me is trying to eat junk food before the other part of me notices. *sigh* I'm not sure how I'm going to handle it, but it's nice to have the info.

(Also, another recovering binger, here. I know EXACTLY what you're going through on that front, and although I lurk, you have my support.)

Melissa said...

I've been doing really well, too (but started only recently), but this week (that time of month) i have also lost track of counting calories & eaten stuff w/o caring. if you did research on the binging & that time-of-month, it'd help me so much & so many others!! i'm sure you'll blog it when you do it?! :)

i have been thinking of writing my stuff on paper, too. i've been doing it on sparkpeople but it can be so tedious!

Georgia said...

Binges are inevitable on your journey, but the worst thing you can do is feel guilt. This has been something that I've recently learnt and yes, it is harder said than done. If possible, move on - tomorrow is a new day and your binge (as mine always are) was just fuelled by hormones and your body was merely trying to do what's "best" for you (even if it's not the outcome your brain wants). If you can move on without the guilt you'll find it much easier to regain that momentum - trust me! Keep at it - you're doing brilliantly! :)

antgirl said...

I am careful to always eat in regular intervals. Letting myself get too hungry, tired and cranky is a recipe for disaster. Always.

Too few calories over a day is as bad for us as too many.

You'll be all right though.

I don't know what your hormone situation is, I've found cohosh to be a godsend. There are lots of supplements in the natural grocers to help with hormonal issues. No more ravenous munchies. :)

Ms. PJ Geek said...

Thank you. Everyone said all the right stuff and all the good stuff. ditto all that.

Thanks for putting it out, frank,thoughtful, gut wrenching.

I just binged the last 2 days on home made Chex mix. Upset over a job change, sad about the holidays, lost my cross necklace. Doesn't feel better with chex mix. Feels better to read your blog and your comments. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I have the same hormonal challenges. It took years to discover the problem and more years to determine the solution. Here's what helped me. No more BC pills ( I stopped at age 34---am now 43 ), And, I take Vitex/chastebeery supplements on an on/off cycle. I go on when I feel the PMS binge monster creeping into my life and off when I feel more under control. Also, during winter, I supplement with Rhodiola in the AM for energy. Research and decide if this may help, you. Good Luck!

Crabby McSlacker said...

How frustrating!

But it's great that you're figuring out the hormonal pattern so can predict when you're going to be tempted into bingeing again. Just knowing that it's coming may help you prepare.

Honib1 said...

Today treat yourself.. as if you are your own child.. think about it.. when your kids are not feeling well.. you do not scold them.. and when your cycle is running high or low.. you should not scold yourself.. so you binged.. you know what you did, you get why you did it.. its over.. today is fresh... I think if we treat ourselves more like the children we love.. then we might treat ourselves more healthy.. you know 3 meals a day, a couple a good snacks.. play time , exercise time.. things you would encourage your own child to do.. You are the best dear..

Roni said...

oh I TOTALLY FEEL YOU! I have the same cycle.

I agree with theantijared

Moving on!

NutriAngel said...

There is probably a whole host of reasons why this happened and hormonal imbalances are just one of them. Keep strong.

Kim said...

Hi, Have you been checked for Poly-cistic ovary syndrome? I have it myself and go through the same thing you do...b/c of insulin resistance. It's very frustrating...I know, but I will tell you the binge problems can be very correlated to the hormone problems...especially if you are insulin resistant. Look up the symptoms for PCOS and insulin resistance...see if you line up with any of the symptoms. Wishing you the best, Kim

Tiff said...

I think you are one of the most courageous people I have ever met...well I guess we haven't ever technically met :) You are totally going to be able to do this- keep on trucking! Here is a link to my blog- I've recently started my own jounrey and would love any feeback you could offer!

Lyn said...

Thank you all for your suggestions, some of which I will be trying!

I have had severe (almost delibitating) PMS in the past and have tried many different approaches including prescription medications and herbal remedies. I've had lots of tests. I am so sensitive to hormones that I cannot even take "mini" birth control pills (I get violently sick). I've had a lot of testing and see my GYN every 3-6 months mainly for follow-up on the cervical cancer thing (you can search my blog if you want to read about that). The PMS has improved dramatically as I have aged and also is much better when I avoid sugar during the last 3-4 days of my cycle, so I try to do that.

Thanks again :)

ThriceBlessed said...

Oh, I can so relate! :( Don't give up!

Tammy said...

Awesome! I'm glad to hear you're researching the hormonal thing because I'm so curious and have just been too damn lazy to do it myself. There HAS to be a direct link to the cycle/overeating thing....I'm convinced of it.

I have an I.U.D. for birth control (TMI, I know), so I think that has something to do with why I'm bloated to the point of ridiculousness, spotting & weird ass cravings for 2 1/2 - 3 wks out of the month. I am soooo not kidding you. I have 1 good solid week a month. Haven't posted about this on my blog because who needs more excuses, right? I just wish it was the other way around...I wish I had 3 good weeks and 1 bad one like I did when I was on the pill. Can't go back to it though....I'm 37 and they say it's too high risk for heart attack and stroke. It's really sad that those 3 bad weeks make me actually consider which would be worse, lol. Thanks for posting about this. You're helping more people than just yourself with your honesty Lyn.