It is hard to explain the need and drive to binge to someone who has never experienced it. It's like something out of your control overtakes you... wraps around you like an invisible dark cloud, tightens its grip like a snake while you struggle to get away, and then eventually pulls you down as you scream and fight and then eventually give in to the fate you know is coming.
It feels that way, when you have a dependence/addiction/disorder or whatever you want to call it with food. I imagine it is similar to how a trying-to-recover alcoholic feels. I have known many alcoholics, my mother included, and have seen how as long as they don't fight it and just drink, they function "just fine." Yes, there are consequences... terrible ones, sometimes... to drinking daily. Yes, a person is missing out on so much of life by just going along with the addiction. But there is no struggle as long as you just go ahead and drink. You can have a pretty normal life by day and then go drinking at night or on weekends and everyone pretty much thinks you are normal because your problems don't "show"... at least not until the addiction gets way, way out of control. Binge eating is like that. If you just go along each day giving in to the desires and urges and eating whatever you want without fighting it, you can have a pretty normal life... except you miss out on most of *real* life and eventually your body begins to show the world what your problem is, and you get lots of health problems to match.
But as soon as you decide you want to fight the monster, it raises up strong, ready for battle. It is so hard to fight that drink when you are trying to abstain completely. And it feels almost impossible to fight that binge drive once it grabs you and starts wrapping around you, pulling you down.
Yesterday was hard, emotionally. I had a few rough spots in my day and at one point my brain started screaming at me to EAT to cope. It is true, when I am stressed out, food has been my comfort, my crutch to get me through. On a difficult day, escaping with a bag of chips and pan of brownies has often been the soothing to my wounds and the calming comfort to my stressed soul. When I have been frantic, upset, angry, frustrated beyond belief and feel like I just cannot cope, EATING has been the relief valve. It works. At least, on some level. The stress is relieved and after I eat I feel like I can cope again. And yesterday, oh did I need a relief valve!
I felt that snake of addiction coming up under my feet and instead of reaching down and petting it, I stepped over it and walked away.
I sat with my (very difficult) feelings. That is all I did. I could not muster up anything more. I had some tears in my eyes, I had some unpleasant thoughts, but thankfully, because I have been OFF JUNK and low carb for over 2 weeks now, I had the presence of mind to step away. I just sat and felt bad/sad/frustrated/upset for about 45 minutes. And then the feelings passed, and I used the good brain in my head to come up with possible solutions to what was stressing me out. The stress isn't *gone,* mind you, but it sort of fades into the background after awhile. And I didn't need food to make that happen. I didn't need anything magical. I just had to have the strength to take ONE SINGLE STEP out of the coils.
This is the biggest triumph I have had in four years of working at weight loss... learning how to stop the cycle. I know from your emails and comments and blog posts that this is a big issue for many of you. And I want to tell you I am not immune. But I have the ability now to COPE and win at least a good portion of the time. What changed? Why do I not succumb to the monster? My diet. That is what gives me the strength. And I don't mean Medifast specifically, although it has been a lifesaver for me. I mean any low carb, junk-free plan. South Beach, calorie and carb counting, or just avoiding grains and sugar and staying under 100 grams of carbs per day all help. I have done them all and always am amazed at the sudden loosening of the binge monster's grip when I get a good week of healthy, low carb eating under my belt. It seems that sugar, fat, salt, carbs are triggers that make it harder and harder for me to fight the addiction. Maybe this is your key, too. I don't know, but if you are struggling like I have, it is work a try.
The monster only has the power we give it. We may feel like helpless victims when we are in the grips of the monster, but remember this: it just takes one step to get away. One step decides your fate in that moment. Stand there and let it take you, or step away.
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