What is a binge? I've been thinking about this over the past several days since talking about binge vs. overeating on another post. I mean, sure, there is the dictionary definition of a binge (on anything... alcohol, TV, food, etc): "an unrestrained and often excessive indulgence" or "an act of excessive or compulsive consumption." And binge eating is characterized as uncontrolled, rapid, excessive eating followed by guilt.
But, let's set aside rigid definitions for a moment. Tell me what you think. Is a binge different for each person?
Is it dependent on mindset? Amounts? Types of food? Speed of eating? Emotion afterwards?
What if a person is happy and calm and *feels* like eating a lot? And they *choose* to do it and do not feel guilty afterwards? Is that a binge? Does it matter if you are alone or with friends or family? Does it matter if the eater is fat or not?
A woman is sad so she eats a whole bag of chips while watching TV, alone. She feels guilty about it later. She is overweight. Is that a binge? What if she was thin, then is it still a binge? How about if she only eats a bowl of chips with those same emotions?
What if you were planning to have a salad with low fat dressing for dinner but instead eat 2 tacos?
What if you eat 3 candy bars in one sitting? How about 6? What if you only eat ONE but it is not on your eating plan?
Let's talk about me. I am trying to lose weight. I have a specific meal plan, a low carb one.
If I sit down and slowly enjoy 2 pieces of fried chicken, a serving of mashed potatoes and gravy, a roll, and a piece of pie, is that a binge? How about if I skip the pie?
What if I eat it frantically, compulsively? Does it become a binge then?
Now, look at yourself. What would be a binge to you? Would 3 slices of buttered toast be a binge? How about one ice cream sundae? How about half a pizza? Two cookies? One brownie? Does it matter how you feel when you're eating it or afterwards?
I ask all these questions because it seems to me that the "binge" word gets thrown around a lot in the weight loss blogging world. I myself have used it simply to describe "going off plan." It FEELS like a binge to me if I eat 2 slices of pizza for dinner, even though that is not a binge or even overeating for any average person. Heck, I even feel like I binged sometimes when I have an extra, 15-calorie mug of coffee with sugar free creamer in it. So what's up with that?
For me, the "binge" thing has turned into something that is more about emotion than about food. For me, if I stray by a certain amount from my pre-planned eating arrangement, whatever that may be, I start feeling like a failure. And the failure feeling = BINGE to me, because that is how I failed most often in the past.
If I eat one slice of bread when I did not MEAN to and did not consciously DECIDE to (but acted on impulse instead) it makes me feel bad. I have labeled it BINGE in my head, when, in fact, it wasn't one.
Yet if I DECIDE to have two scoops of ice cream, plan it and feel emotionally good about it, even though it is not on plan it does not feel like a binge.
So I have spent time this week thinking, when does it morph?
a few M&Ms
a package of M&Ms
2 packages of M&Ms
a half pound of M&Ms (yes, I have done this in the past)
Depending on my mindset, it morphs:
Happy, accepting, deciding mindset morphs from
treat -> indulgence -> overindulgence -> binge
Sad, upset, impulsive mindset morphs from
slip up -> screw up -> OMG I really overdid it -> binge
Either way, to ME, my overeating is no longer getting to the *binge* point anymore. Oh, I overindulge sometimes. I eat off plan stuff. Usually it is either because I am stressed and it calms me down, or because I just think "hey, that would taste really good!" But the binges of the past... the rapid shoveling, the crazy out-of-control feeling, the half pound of M&Ms or whole package of Oreos... that really is in the past.
I think what I need to work on now is self-discipline. I just tend to like treating myself with junk, because I *like* junk. Oh, I do like healthy stuff too, but I never did lose my taste for processed stuff like chips and pies. I tend to say yes to my desires too often. I find it easy to justify a sugar free latte or a few chips or some sugar free candy, even if it is off plan and not conducive to weight loss.
One of my goals for this month is to BE more disciplined... even when things I want seem to fit into my food plan. For example, sodas. I stopped buying diet sodas months ago. I think I have 3 cans of Diet Rite left in the pantry. Sometimes I think, "oh I really want a Coke Zero!" and think about buying some, but then I remember my commitment to myself. A little voice in my head tries to reason: "It has no calories! You can have diet sodas on Medifast! It is ON PLAN!" But in reality, it is no longer part of MY plan for better health. And that's where self-discipline comes in: I say no, I skip the soda, I have water or tea instead. And it is that kind if discipline that will enable me to manage all the other habits I need for success: skipping sugary sweets, turning down extra helpings, avoiding too much fat or salt, and keeping up with the daily exercising. All of those healthy habits require discipline. And frankly, when I was 278 pounds and binge eating regularly, I had very little self discipline. It has taken many years to change from the mindset to the place I am now. But there is still work to do. I am on it!
2 days ago