Friday, April 23, 2010

The Binge Eating Lifestyle

I was in the checkout line at WalMart today when I saw this huge, 4 shelf display of giant, 40-ounce bags of miniature candy bars. They had Reese's peanut butter cup minis. They had Twix. They had the ever-dangerous variety packs with Snickers and Milky Ways and stuff in them. I was waiting in line about 2 feet from this display, and I observed my feelings and my thoughts:

1. I was not drawn to buy them. My mouth did not water. I did not go into fantasy land thinking about how they would taste. I did not get all panicky because I either HAD to have them or I HAD to get out of there. They were just there, like rocks.

2. I had a few seconds of nostalgia, remembering how I used to buy that stuff anytime I saw it. I thought about how I would have bought a bag or two, gone home, hidden in my room, and eaten them. All. In one sitting. And for a split second I was a teensy bit fond of that memory and thinking how nice it would be if I could do that now. I have to stress, this was a *thought*, not an emotion. Big difference from the past.

3. I thought, nah. I am glad I am not eating that anymore. I wouldn't want to anyway. And a little voice inside my head said, "Because I don't want to hate myself."

I had to think about that. It was clear, though, where that came from. It is NOT the sense that it is "wrong" or "bad" to eat candy. Eating stuff is not a moral issue, in my opinion, unless you are stealing the food or taking it away from a starving person. So why would I hate myself if I ate candy?

Well, I wouldn't. It is not that I would hate myself if I ate candy. It is that eating candy in the manner I used to eat it made me hate myself... not because of the single candy-eating incident, but because of the pit of despair I found myself in afterwards. And the pit of despair was not because I ate candy bars. It was the cumulative result of the binge eating lifestyle. And yes, it is a lifestyle.

When you are obsessed with FOOD, constantly plotting and planning for the next fix, hiding wrappers and sneaking candy bars into the bathroom or bedroom so no one will see you eat... when you ignore your kids and your friends and your life because you want cake MORE than any of those things... when you get so high on an 8,000-calorie bender and then come crashing, plummeting down... it is sheer misery. It feels like you can't escape. And you think something is wrong with you. And you start to hate yourself.

I don't ever want to feel that way again. Yeah, someday I will probably eat at least *some part* of a candy bar or a piece of homemade fudge or something like that again. Nothing wrong with that. But I pray I will never, ever find myself in the checkout line at WalMart buying a 40-ounce bag of candy bars to take home and hurt myself with. Because that sugary mess might erase reality for ten or fifteen minutes, but the reality you come back to is a nightmare.

I will keep the reality I have now... the good AND the bad. I want to experience life, not hide from it. I want to love myself. And I do.


happyfunpants said...

You summed it up beautifully - I don't think any of us are bad or good (or that any food is bad or good), but I definitely don't like hating myself.

I don't miss that feeling at all. And no matter what, after a big binge session that's what I would always feel.

It was funny because I realized the other day that I don't binge AT ALL anymore. I can't say that I don't wistfully look at chocolate or something like that every now and again when someone is eating something that is unhealthy in copious amounts. But it's kind of like your Outback experience...I look at the bag of chocolate or whatever, think about what that rush might feel like, and then realize that I don't want to ride that roller coaster any more.

I don't want my life dictated by sugar rushes or fogs.

I don't miss the binge behavior. I thought I would...but I don't.

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head! I used to do the same thing....not anymore. People at work offer me candy and cookies and donuts when they bring it in. I just smile and say, "No thank you."

The old me would have snuck treats all day long and hoped nobody noticed.

Good for you!

Anonymous said...

I too gave up ice cream, popcorn, and other carb-loaded treats I ate on a regular basis (always 2-4 servings, not one...I mean, a half a cup of ice cream was never enough!)

Now the only time I still want those foods is when my hubby and I have "movie night" at home, and almost every night is movie night. He can eat anything without gaining weight, and in fact eats 2-3 bowls of ice cream and a big bowl of popcorn every night. (After he finishes a great, well-balanced meal.)

So...I asked him if it bothers him that I don't indulge in those foods with him anymore. He said, "Yes, I miss that closeness we had. It was like our special ritual."


"Also, I wish you didn't have to be deprived."

Crap. There's something deely disturbing about this. It dawns on me: some people not only enjoy eating their treats, they enjoy eating their treats in the company of another who is also enjoying the same treat. (Like a drinking buddy?) There IS something ritualistic about it, a kind of camaraderie, sort of like the ritual of a binge, only it is done with another person, and in our case, only one of us suffers bad consequences from the

Gina said...

Such a good post and so encouraging to know that someone somewhere is overcoming. I'm at the beginning of my journey but this gives me HOPE! :O)

Lori said...

I finally got current on your blog. YOU GO GIRL!!! I am so proud of you for hanging in there and finding the right thing for you.

Ice Queen said...

Your posts really hit me in the noggin, girl. You are able say in writing the things I think but can't seem to wrap my keyboard around.

I am seventeen days binge free. And the longer I go, the less I feel as if I need it. I am not saying that I am "over" it but... I am hanging in. And it isn't so terrible. :D

In Honor of Me! said...

You have come so far! I am proud of you!
I can't wait until I get sober again. I remember how it felt to not be tempted by candy or anything that was empty calories.

I look forward to your blog everyday. It is sobering....Lord, knows I need to be sober. Not from alcohol. I don't even drink, but from food.

I am sure you understand.


redballoon said...

"the ever-dangerous variety packs.." LOL. Love it!!!

Rebecca said...

you summed up something I have experienced for 40 a few paragraphs.....although for me, it is always the car where my eatting is done.

the other kiki said...

I especially hated the fear--well, not so much fear as inevitability--that I would one day be diabetic, that I was shortening my life span and the ultimate cost of time and money spent on medical treatments, hospitalizations, meds, etc.

What changed me and made me start letting go of the comfort of binging was that I started noticing lots of people in grocery stores in wheelchairs and carts--people with amputated legs, people on oxygen, people whose main problem seemed to be morbid obesity which brought on ever worsening health deterioration.

You said it all so well. Thank you.

Autumnforest said...

I had a friend once when I used to model. She had issues with binge eating. When we both got a job to model for a famous swimwear line, she gave up the sweets and I asked her how she did it. She showed me her hip. She had carved cuts into it. I asked her what the hell she was doing and she said to me, "it's either sugar or cutting, I gotta take care of the pain somehow." I remember that imprinting in my mind--binging on sweets/carving the flesh... Both hurt the body, one immediately, one slowly.

Splurgie said...

You said it all so well!

Gemma said...

Wow, i can definitely relate to everything you said, so well written, im with you on not wanting to ever go back there again xx

Anonymous said...

Lyn-It is truly amazing what totally giving up sugar and mostly giving up carb does for the binges.....they are non-existent, like a little miracle. I'm so happy that I made the connection and so happy for you too! Keep up the great job, and enjoy your new found happiness for life!

✯FiTCETERA✯ said...

I despise that out of control feeling around certain foods. I'm not free of that feeling yet all the time. I still have moments where I feel like an addict. I will say though, that the cleaner I eat, the less I have this experience.

Great post, Lyn!

Tabby said...

Your blog is very encouraging to me. I'm about 2 days binge free now. :/

TheLosingAmerican said...

love this post....

that is all :D

Anonymous said...

New reader to your blog but I'm starting to look forward to reading your posts almost daily. I can't believe how accurately you summed up that internal battle in the checkout lane. And I can't believe there is someone else out there that thinks the same way I have for years. I've only just started my road to recovery - but will keep looking to you for inspiration. Thank you!

MB said...

I came across your blog today and am so glad I did. I am at the beginning of my journey and it's inspiring to hear that it is possible to get to the other side of binge eating! Thanks for writing this!!

Kristi said...

Your adventure is helping us all overcome binge eating. I think I'll start a countdown, too, of the days since my last binge. Good job!