Thursday, February 10, 2011

When's the Best Time to Binge?

I had a sodium attack last night. Or something. I am sure you've seen this before on my blog, where I eat a bunch of salty stuff right before a hormone shift. I am getting better at handling it, but I wish it was not such an overpowering feeling of desperation for salt. I mean, you know you have something going on when you find yourself licking salt out of your hand, which is something I have done in the past.

I've found some half decent subs for the old hot dogs and potato chips I used to inhale at times like these. Dill pickles are good, and green olives are too (only 25 calories for 5 and they are rich in healthy fat). Baked kale chips or roasted green beans do the trick, too. My downfall is cheese, though. Something about cheese gets me. But at least my portions are in line with a "normal" person's nowadays.

Last night I felt salt starved AND hungry even after dinner. I ate a baby dill pickle, a few green olives, and a couple slices of 2% American cheese. I also ate 2 ounces of sharp cheddar. I finished off my night by combining two Medifast meals: a brownie and a chocolate pudding. I ate a tablespoon of peanut butter off a fork (salted). And then I was okay, and went to bed early.

Yesterday I was thinking about something. Here it is. I sometimes ponder WHEN would be a good time to "go off plan" and have a mini binge. I think about how, over the past few years, I've gone off the deep end every so often, ate something way off plan, and then thought I may as well have some MORE off plan stuff because, after all, I am already off plan.

So the question rolling around in my head becomes:
When is the best time to go off plan and eat crap?

It seems like a stupid question. I mean, I am here to lose weight and stay ON plan. But because of this question, I realise that part of me still thinks I am not capable of never bingeing. (As an aside, I know my "binges" aka "mini-binges" are nowhere near the magnitude of the ones I had in the past. Nowadays, going off plan is about 1/5 the volume and severity that it used to be, because my stomach is smaller and that stuff would make me sick, and I also have a little more self control and self respect that I used to. But for the purpose of this post, I will call it a *binge* anyway... because that's what it still feels like to me). Part of me thinks I need to binge, that it is part of me, that it is inevitable so I may as well plan it out.

I have thought about this a lot. Whenever I have "gone off" and am trying to get myself back together, I think: "One more day wouldn't hurt. Hey, I forgot to have some cheesecake while I was 'off.' I may as well have it now instead of waiting until I am doing great and on a roll losing weight and screwing up THEN."

These thoughts/rationalizations sound like this:

 Having a binge NOW, when I am just starting out, is better than having it LATER, when I am on a losing streak.
Better to just add one more off day to a streak of off days than to screw up later when I I am doing great.
If I binge now, THEN I will be able to focus and lose weight and not binge again later, at least for a while.
Having a binge in the beginning of weight loss is okay because I am just starting out and not really *ruining* anything or stalling my progress.

You know, it's all a mind game. It's all food obsession. The fact is that every day off plan... every binge... is screwing up my progress. That is true whether I binge today or tomorrow or after I have been on plan for 30 days. But once I do "good" for awhile, I get this sense that "hey, I have been on plan for 10 days and I don't want to screw that up." Which is nice, but not helpful if you've had an off day and think you may as well extend it to 2, 3, 4 off days.

There is never a good time to binge, and thinking that adding a binge day when you're already off plan is somehow "better" is another mind game. The fact is, the fewer binges, the better. And the goal is to eliminate them altogether.

I still have a binge eating disorder; that's obvious. Even though I am not bingeing NOW, I think about it. Someone left a comment yesterday that our brains form 'grooves' or pathways according to what we think about repeatedly. That is so true. When I was a kid, teen, or young adult I never, *ever* thought about food  in the obsessive way I do now. It didn't get like this until I was in my late 20's, maybe early 30's. Even though I was overweight in my 20's it was not due to this craziness that goes on in my head now. The binge insantiy came later. I formed thoe habits. I formed those pathways. And if I ever want to be free of them, I have to stop walking those paths over and over and over.

Part of me, the disordered part, says this morning that since I went "off plan" last night eating a couple ounces of cheese and some olives, I "may as well" go buy some potato chips and Coke and while I'm at it I could make a list of all the things I've wanted to eat and haven't over the past couple weeks, and go buy them all and eat everything including a million kinds of Valentine's candy, because hey, now is the best time to binge... I'm already off plan! And since I *know* I will do that binge *someday*, now is the best time.

Crazy talk. I DO NOT HAVE TO BINGE. EVER. And I don't have to keep thinking about it.

I am staying on plan because I love myself. I am doing this because I am dissociating from the old identity as a Binge Eater. I am forming new pathways by directing my mind to other things when *food* is on the brain. I choose to focus on my children, my wonderful puppy, my home, my yard, my life. Those are the things I want ingrained in my head. Those are the the paths I will walk.


Lisa said...

the answer to that you already said. never. it opens the door for another and another. you may not realize it, but you do a wonderful job at keeping everything in check. Even on your worst day you eat less than you would have in the past and that is victory.

Lori said...

When I first started this journey and had all of my meals planned a week in advance, and most of them prepared to the point that all I had to do was heat & eat, I felt like I had all of this extra time. I did, on the one hand because I wasn't spending nearly the time I used to preparing & eating food. But what really was happening was, I wasn't thinking about food all of the time. I had to find a way to fill my 'mental time'. That was much, much harder.

You can do it. You've already proven your mental toughness over & over again.

Hanlie said...

That's what we're doing in Neuro Linguistic Programming - finding those old pathways and cutting them off, allowing new pathways to form. I'm paying a coach a lot of money to help me with that, but you've just figured it out by yourself. You're a problem solver, Lyn, which is why you will ultimately be successful.

Ellie said...

I actually schedule myself a pre-planned binge day every Saturday. I do this to help me stay focused during the week. "No you don't need a cookie now, you can have it saturday". I also find that after binging on cookies and cakes for the first few weeks on my binge days I much prefer ONE cookie and then round it out with fruits or sweet potatoe fries.

Even my binges are getting healthier.

Not that I suggest this for everyone but I find a planned binge helps with the guilty feeling from eating off plan, and helps me stay focused.

Losing 100 said...

Next time I am tempted to binge I am going to think of this post! Awesome job!

LN said...

Geneen Roth says something like this "A binge can be two cookies - it is the attitude with which the food is eaten."

Bargaining - I have been there so much myself lately... how can I change without changing? And the answer is I can't.
So, I do or don't do, there is no try. and that is from another wise entity - Yoda.

You really are working your way through and out of the mental habits!!

Mer and Mo said...

We all fight that brain game every now and then. Stay on the path of success and you will continue to see those awesome results!! "Staying MOtivated"

Ex Yo-Yo Dieter Debbie said...

LN had a good point - it's the mindset you're in when you're eating. You can eat a piece of cheese, for example, mindfully and remain completely in control or you can eat it compulsively, barely tasting it because you're already thinking about what you're going to eat next...

I am trying to become a "normal eater" - that is my goal...a normal eater at a normal weight.

So I try to see if my eating behaviours fit into the realm of what's considered "normal. Do normal eaters go overboard once in a while, in an unplanned way? Yes. Do they plan every bite that goes into their mouths all the time? No.

I will probably never have an entirely normal relationship with food and feelings - but that's okay.

I'll keep working towards "normal" - even the normal eaters aren't perfect all the time.

chris m said...

Like others have said -- never!

But I understand the craving for salty and cheesy things.

While I have not much problem controlling my intake a sweet, starchy, sugary junk, it is things like pizza that get me sometimes.

And the main problem is not the first slice of pizza, but the second and third, which tend to follow once I already went "off diet"...

Best of luck and stay strong and in control!!

Anonymous said...

The right time to eat crap is when the crap will fix something. Does it every really "fix" anything?

Anonymous said...

The emotional turmoil of having that *to binge or not to binge* conversation in your head is torture. No matter what the form. Whether it is *should I have that cookie* or *why not just keep eating today since I already screwed up*. Eliminating that conversation by just making a decision that you have no choice is freeing. Since I decided to go this ath I feel much less tortured. As soon as the conversation starts in my head now, I stop it by just saying to myself. Not an option. There is no choice. My brain is so much less exhausted and has so much more time to reflect on the positive. You have come so far and done so well. Why settle for *my binges are not the kind of binges they used be?* When instead you could be saying *I haven't binged in so long, I am so proud of myself*. A recovering alcoholic cannot just have one drink. Ever. End of story. While we food addicts have to eat. We do not have to binge. We just have to decide it is not an option. Does not mean we cannot plan to go off our plan and eat some of the foods we love and miss. It just means we do it with a plan and without the emotional turmoil. They say if you practice this long enough it becomes part of who you are. I am not there yet. But one day I hope to be. For now I still have work at it everyday.

Kari said...

I totally get the whole "planned binging" thing. Sometimes when I'm in class. I'll plan a binge, but I've started to get to the point where I recognize the planning thing for what it...organized self sabotage. I'm able to stop myself in my tracks (not all the time) when I find myself in that kind of thought pattern. I guess it's all about thought pattern recognition. A lot easier said than done.

journeytobehealthy said...


I am continually amazed at how you manage to express exactly how I think and feel as a compulsive overeater. How did you get into my brain????!!!! Your ability to express the honest, straight forward feelings and thoughts a binge eater has is so helpful to me. First, so that I don't feel alone. Second, I feel that it also helps to identify so many aspects of food issues so that I can work through the baggage to a healthier me.


Regarding cravings for salt, cheese, sweets, whatever one's "drug" of choice may be - I recently read "Breaking the Food Seduction" by Dr. Neal Barnard. His research and opinions about breaking away from addictive foods has really been a big help for me. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend giving it a try.

Thanks again!

Damjana said...

It's sad because you eat according to a plan and not according to intuitive eating. I just see you kind of suffering or sad because of the choices you make. Intuitive eating would mean eating foods which give you most pleasure at a given time. And if it's cheese which you wish to eat, then a Medifast bar just won't do the'd still crave cheese, only that you wouldn't be physically hungry any more. Depriving yourself of hot dogs, cheese, potatoes..won't bring you any happiness. :( I'd prefer one bite of my favourite food to one bowl of a boring fat-free stuff.

Leslie said...

Great post, Lyn. The only thing I can really say is "progress, not perfection". You noted that you still have a BED - as do I. This simply won't ever go all the way away, but over time and with work and thought and old fashioned will power (when it works), we can arrest the "active" aspect of the disorder and stay in check. I know that the only good binge is the one I'm able to put off in the moment. I can do that more often now. And as you said - the intensity, content and insanity is less than prior. Hopefully these can continue to be honed!

Lyn said...


I wish it was like that. I am glad you don't have a binge eating issue, but try to understand that for those of us who DO, having one bite of cheese/candy/ice cream does not work. It does not happen. The first bite sends us unto overdrive to eat the entire package or container of food. It is a difficult way to live, but can be made easier by avoiding what are called "trigger foods."

BTW I have also discussed my experiences with Intuitive Eating, during which I gained about 40 pounds. "Eating Disorder" and "Intuitive Eating" rarely coexist with a happy ending.

Amy said...

I think planned cheat meals are an essential part of any healthy lifestyle, but the cheat foods have to make sense for you. For me and my body-builder husband, we share a cheat meal together either on Saturday or Sunday, but my cheat meals never include sweets, as I know this will trigger my sugar addiction/chemical imbalance. Just tasting wonderfully seasoned food can put your mind back on track. If you have a planned meal (note, meal, not day) you can be very satisfied and it can really help rev up your metabolism. And mentally, it is a lot easier to be good all week when you have something to look forward to.

Theresa said...

Keep writing! It's the only way to truly discover yourself.
Hugs Lyn.