Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Why the Binge

I get so bored with the whole thing sometimes. It really does get boring when you have, in the past, made food your hobby and then suddenly it's not anymore. I mean, sure, I can add some cinnamon to my Medifast hot cocoa or put orange extract in a vanilla shake, but there's major limits on how interesting/entertaining food can *be* on Medifast. Most of the creativity comes with the Lean and Green meal, where I get to make pizzas and soups out of cauliflower or experiment with seasonings on my baked chicken. Still, it gets boring, and I do sometimes heave a big sigh when I have to see the food for what it is, and not what I always wanted it to be.

It used to hold some magical power for me... food. It could change my moods, my energy, my entire focus in a day. Hey, feeling sad about that misbehaving child? Have a brownie! Suddenly, everything is better! Want to cry over something mean someone said to you? Eat a bag of chips! Poof! Sad feelings disappear. Overwhelmed with all the things you need to get done today? Big Mac meal time! There's nothing a Big Mac, fries, and a Coke can't fix! Yeah, it felt like that. It did. Any stress or worry could be magically erased by food, and those negative feelings would be replaced by a soothing, warm, filling sense of calm. Followed by disgust and sadness. That was the problem with the magic food: it only fixed things while you were eating it. As soon as that last bite was gone, *all* the stress, worries, problems and sadness came rushing back in your face, worsened by a sense of shame, regret, and gluttony. But you could erase those feelings if you ate something else. And thus began the cycle on binge eating, because if you don't *stop* eating, you never have to feel.

Now I *have* to feel. I still do it sometimes, though. I get to feeling overwhelmed or stressed and I want to forget it with food. Usually these days it's coffee instead: a sugar free Americano, maybe with a fancied-up Medifast brownie topped with cream cheese and Splenda "frosting." A hundred and fifty, maybe 200 calories of bliss. Is that bad? I wonder. It's a remnant of how I used to treat food. It is a *small* remnant... sitting on the couch, reading, sipping, nibbling and forgetting... but it is still a *use* of food to make me feel better. Yet I don't feel guilty or shameful or gluttonous when it is a small, on-plan treat like that. Still, I try to limit it... because I don't want to go back to old habits, and I know how easily the Americano and Medifast brownie could morph into a latte and donuts.

Without it, as I said, I get bored. And I like that, in a way. I like that I have learned not to entertain myself with food. I like that food is no longer a time suck, wasting precious hours of my day. And since I am no longer afraid to feel my feelings, I no longer have to numb them with the binge.


Misc Mom said...

While reading your post I was thinking two things. First, you're right; food should not be 'entertaining'. You should not use it except for it's purpose (nutrition) and the second thing I was thinking is how nutritionally sound could Medifast possibly be? Surely it isn't meant for long time use? I mean there is a transition period when you have reached goal, is there not? Perhaps as much as you want Medifast to work the way it did in the beginning, instead it is impeding your ability to lose because you are depending too much on its convenience instead of making actual good choices.

AAAAAAnd boredom breeds binges (IMO) and I would hate to see the boredom you are currently embracing turn into a burden and then a binge or many binges. I am just curious why you don't transition to real food all the time? Again (IMO) you can't do Medifast forever and you seem to lean in the direction (per the tone of your posts) to wanting to eat REAL food'. You even say it is more interesting to dabble in spices and how to make your lean and green meals, so why don't you? In the long run it is better for you anyway.

Again JMO and you will do what you will do. I only hope the best for you and that whatever you choose you do it 100% and reach your goals. :) Cheers

CatherineMarie said...

Can you try to find other things to relax with? I know I have a bad habit of reading and eating.... I'm trying to start a habit of only eating at the dining room table.

And if I'm stressed, to go do something relaxing. A hot bath or shower, music and meditation... maybe sewing, knitting, or a puzzle?

Jac said...

Here's some interesting reading for you: http://psychologyofeating.com/

Lori said...

I know what you mean about food being a big part of your life. For me, it was part of my identity. I was 'a good cook' or 'an excellent baker' and I had to leave all of the behind to get healthy. I mourned for the loss. We'll both be better in the long run, however.

Margaret said...

Hi lyn! I know EXACTLY what you mean. I love medifast but to lose, transition and maintain is taking almost 18 months. One oN plan tray DOES. Help. You loose slower and that is a bummer, but we have to control the urge to bing FOREVER not just while we loose. So if a fancy brownie help tame the binge the guilt and the boarder more power to us. Better to loose or maintain then binge and gain. Keep going ', We can do it!!

Lyn said...

Misc Mom~

I did transition to real food, mainly because I was tired of Medifast, and gained a good chunk of weight back. When I finally got a grip and realized I NEED to eat low carb and stay off the grains, I was able to eat real foods and maintain, but not lose. So that's why I started back on Medifast this year.


I like to read too! My main new relaxing thing is dog training. I like it lots and can do it anytime and it is very rewarding. I have not found anything at all that immediately removes stress and sadness the way food used to, though. I bet drinking would do it, but I'm not going there! :)

That's interesting Jac, will have to do some reading of the blog.


me too! I was the amazing baker too. It was really hard to give that up.


yep, there is something to be said for tenacity! We will get there.

Fair Enough said...

The issue that I see with the Medifast doctored-up brownie isn't really the calorie amount or anything but rather that it's kind of keeping you in old habits. Bad day=need something sweet. Someone said something that really bothered me=A treat will help. The real question is, what are you going to do when Medifast is over and you're not going to have a little packet of brownie powder to turn to? I think that's what you really need to think about.

You could always make "healthy" desserts out of protein powder and other ingredients, but I honestly think that's a slippery slope..again, it's just feeding into that negative thought-pattern of really needing something to help you deal with emotional issues {foods-and preferably sweet and comforting}

I'm still figuring it out myself, and I have experimented with making muffins out of protein powder, and for me it's a no-go. I can't throw out my past years of binge eating and food issues and pretend they didn't exist, so trying to create make-believe sweets just doesn't really work out. I think it's about find some sort of other outlet and letting yourself feel without using food as a band-aid. You hinted at that but I do think the brownie kind of limits your progress. For now it might be ok, but it won't work forever...

So yeah, I'd look into that more and really think about post Medifast...because we all have to deal with bad feelings and stress and have to find a way to deal with it, preferably without food.

Lyn said...

Very true Fair, I totally agree. I think that is what makes me uncomfortable about doing it. In a way though, I have "weaned down" from full blown binges, to little binges, to a few cookies, to a Medifast brownie. I think the logical next step is not to use food at all for an emotional response. Well, maybe having *just* a cup of hot coffee or tea would be an acceptable, nice, relaxing way to unwind that does involve "food"... but the gradual weaning-off of self-medicating has allowed me to get used to just feeling the feelings and being okay with that.

And when I want something sweet in maintenance, I think I'll go with a dish of fresh berries. There is nothing numbing (to me) about fresh fruit... but it is still a nice little pleasure!

Karen said...

To me the " boredom with food" is your golden opportunity to get some specialized life coaching or binge eating counseling. Listen to the pod cast with Alen Standish withBeverley Glazer. Take the $$ you save in food ( by getting free medifast ) and take the next step in your recovery to get some help to get unstuck.

I gave up my family vacation to finance my weight loss program and recovery. It was one year but my health issues could lead to life threatening issues if I continued on my path. I removed the barrier to my recovery and prioritized my self.

This boring time is your time to move forward. If you choose. Good luck. Don't let you get you.

Karen said...

Link to the podcast. http://quitbingeeating.com/qbe015-beverley-glazer/

Sara said...

Lyn, I completely understand food boredom--I've gone through the same thing. I LOVE food, I love cooking and trying new restaurants, watching cooking shows and travel shows... Once, when I was severely depressed after a breakup, I remember expressing to my friends how disturbed I was that I didn't want to eat, that "food had lost its taste." I was worried I would never enjoy food again... More worried than I was about my depression, because I had felt sad before but never, NEVER, had I just not enjoyed food.

This is an issue I'm still working on, so I don't know how much helpful advice I have for you! I don't know if I can "let go" of the part of myself that loves food, or if I SHOULD let go of it. Is there a way that we can balance loving food with making healthy choices? It's something I really struggle with as I continue to make healthier decisions in my life.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, as a person who also clearly loves food. Do you think we should "give up" that part of ourselves, or should we try to embrace that part of ourselves while we make healthy choices? Can we love food for the RIGHT reasons instead of for the emotional attachment, or is that too much indulgence? Does the part of ourselves that loves food NECESSARILY conflict with the part that wants to become healthier?

TL;DR: I completely empathize with you because I have long felt the same conflict!

Lyn said...


I think there is nothing wrong with enjoying our food, enjoying cooking etc. But for those of us who tend towards obsession, it really has to be reigned in. I try not to allow myself to overthink/obsess about food. I try not to let ANY eating turn into a comatose, drug-like experience anymore. For me, I am trying to cool down my "love" of food and let it just be a calm enjoyment. Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

You have a very interesting relationship with food. Some I can relate to but many things I can not. I think we all have a bit of stress eathing (actually I sometimes go the other way and can not eat, e.g. when grieving the loss of a relative). But in general I do not think about food until its time to eat, I have so much going on throughout the day, I often look at the clock and remind myself I need to eat something. Perhaps you need to focus on living life and not so much on food. when you focus on your next life event, it may distract you from your next meal event.

jeanniebean said...


Some things you say really remind me of my Mom's relationship with food. It seems obsessive compulsive in some ways. When I go visit (she lives 3 hours away) she will talk about what she is going to make for the meals while I'm there. I really don't care about the food, I just want to sit with her and drink coffee and talk.
Both her and my sister have had bariatric surgery, and my Mom has lost over 100 pounds and looks fantastic! My sister on the other hand, lost about 65 pounds and had some depression after the surgery. She said that when you love something so much, and then it is gone, it is a very sad situation. In this case, she wasn't talking about just the food but also the whole "eating experience". After bariatric surgery you can never ever eat the same again.
But back to the point, even after my Mom had the surgery...she still obsesses over what to eat. When I call her to talk, she will tell me everything she has eaten that day. It's strange to me, but that is part of the obsession.
Have you ever thought about OCD as part of the overeating problem? Just a thought...I really enjoy your blog.

Lyn said...


I absolutely think obsession is part of binge eating disorder. And I think when one stops the binge eating, and has a rather plain, simple, structured eating plan instead (like Medifast), it is pretty normal to look back and kind of "miss" the old experiences that were so enjoyable and no longer available. The big issue, I think, is when people just CANNOT seem to let go of the experience and keep trying to go back to it. That's why so many people who have lap bands or surgery can regain the weight when they figure out they can drink lots of milkshakes or other unhealthy food types to "get around" the surgery or the band.