Inside A Binge Eater’s Head

Hey friends!

How are you all doing? Great comments on yesterday’s Migraine post–who knew that so many of us suffer from migraines?! I was actually not going to write about it–because I felt like it was an entire post complaining–but it seems like we all learned something. Wahoo!

Yesterday was productive and awesome: I did a mini triathlon at my gym at 5:45 a.m. Kinda proud. Especially since we are 2.5 weeks away from the HALF IronMan!!! AHHH. (I did a 1 hr tough spin class, 1 mile run, .6 mile swim). Off to work I went, & worked my butt off, and then I taught BodyPUMP.

{I apparently thought it was Halloween last night when I taught…..does anyone else think that when they wear black/orange?!}

And then I FELL into bed, baby. {Okay fine, I watched some Olympics first….gahhhh. Must sleep once these are over!}

*****

Some of you might know that I struggled with anorexia for years (read: Inside an Anorexic’s Mind), only to continue on with disordered eating habits–specificially binge, overeating, and emotional eating.

Today I want to delve into my past habits to help those of you who don’t know much about it be more compassionate toward those who struggle with it, and writing it for those who still might be struggling with it.

Inside a Binge Eater’s Head

Someone who suffers from disordered eating habits is not always totally in control of every situation, episode, or meal. In fact, this is more often than not, the case.

Binge eaters are often eating out of distress, stress, or are trying to fill a void.

For me I had naturally turned to binge eating because I had starved myself for years and my body rebelled. I ate in secret, I ate quickly, and I did eat larger amounts of food.

I was in college at the time, and would often come home from a long day of {stressful} work/school, grab handfuls and handfuls of pretzels, and bowls and bowls of cereal, and then run to my room so no roommates would see me do this. I ‘looked’ healthy (and even thin), but inside I was hurting. Bad.

{with a younger bro-in 2009}

I turned to food and binge eating because emotionally there was something missing. I was constantly stressed with school (I am a perfectionist, and thus maintained close to a 4.0 most semesters), with dating, and believe it or not, my future.

I would often grab food from parties, friends’ apartments, and gatherings, only to take it home and eat it all myself (I often said “I’ll share this”). I was constantly ashamed of my behavior, yes, but it was almost unstoppable. It was totally spiraling out of control.

Even worse? I even took roommates’ food without asking because I was ashamed I ate so much. I didn’t want to buy the foods that I liked stuffing my face with (cereal, pretzels), because I knew they weren’t that great for me, and yet I took it from roommates. Ironic? Yes. Sad? YES.

I apologize to all I may have hurt in those few months–it was a tough, tough time for me. And OH so embarrassing to admit–both then and now.

{2008}

BUT, I do realize that this might help someone going through the same things.

Binge eaters tend to:

  • eat quickly
  • consume large quantities of food in one sitting
  • eat alone
  • be emotionally distraught or stressed <–especially without anyone knowing

On the ‘outside’ you probably can’t tell if someone is a binge eater or suffers from it, and that is why it’s so tough to be able to reach out and help. Especially since most binge eaters are SO ashamed of what they do that they often just suffer in silence.

It’s a horrible, awful thing to feel like you don’t have control over your self or your mind. I feel like that was the toughest thing for me. After bingeing on 4 or 5 bowls of cereal, I’d be like “tomorrow I will not eat this again.” And guess what? I ate it. And then I felt awful about myself again.

It is a vicious cycle, and it breaks my heart that so many go through it!

{This is why I offer coaching services now, because I want to create a comfortable, safe space where people can talk about it and I can help coach them on their road to recovery.}

How I Started Recovering from Binge Eating

For those who ARE suffering from binge eating, here are a few things that helped me end the vicious cycle (over a period of several months):

  • I spent a lot of quality time in nature. This helped me breathe and rediscover who I was, again.
  • I started serving others and looking outside of my problems to help others in need. This was a HUGE one that helped me so much!
  • I prayed. A lot.
  • I started eating more vegetables throughout the day (instead of just at dinner).
  • I began attending group exercise classes. (A post about my journey with that & then becoming a fitness instructor will come in a few days<–look for it!)
  • I began lifting weights.
  • I focused on qualities of myself that I could control and did love.
  • I wrote in a journal. A lot!
  • I started eating around people again.
  • I started stepping outside my comfort zone.
  • I slowly began changing my thoughts about myself.
  • + many other things (if you want more help, email me to set up a coaching session)

{Fall 2009-the middle of my recovery}

This is not an easy thing to write about, discuss about, or admit to. And I know that is how many people feel who are suffering from binge eating (and/or other disordered eating practices). It is something that is so raw, so personal, and quite tough to admit to.

I wrote a post about not being in denial anymore–and that was a REALLY big step for me in my recovery. Once I stepped back and truly came clean with myself and recognized what I was doing to my body and my mind, I got disgusted with myself. And then I became angry. And then I became determined. Determined to come clean with myself and get my body & spirit back into harmony with who I really was.

My recovery was not short. Nor was it easy. I had a lot of slip-ups, especially when faced with a lot of food, tempting places (my childhood home, my apartment, etc.), or really stressful events in my life. BUT, I never gave up trying.

{meeting and dating my now-husband was a HUGE part of my recovery too; 2009}

And I can happily say that is long behind me now, and it is a beautiful thing to realize that I have NO issues with food. Whatsoever.

I believe that those who suffer from an eating disorder and/or disordered eating can be truly healed. I really do. I was able to do it–with help from my Heavenly Father (aka God<–read more about my beliefs), my sisters, and my husband. There is hope for anyone who is suffering. I promise.

You are WORTH it. Don’t ever think you’re not. Each soul is mighty precious, and you are included.

Keep sparkling, my friends.

{source} <–that ‘anyone’ could be you. Remember that.

And yes, I eat cereal once in awhile now, & there no bad, forbidden, or trigger foods for me anymore. And that, that is beautiful.

Cheers to healthy living!!

********

Have an AWESOME day! <3

If YOU have suffered from binge eating before, what helped YOU?? For anyone: are there any trigger type foods that YOU have a hard time stopping eating?? What do YOU think we can do to help others struggling with this??

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Comments

  1. Wow I feel like you just wrote my story from college. I don’t know why, but I never thought there were other people out there doing the same thing. It’s kind of comforting to know I’m not alone… or some kind of weirdo. I live alone now, and at first, the binging was creeping back into my day, but I have been working on it, even though it’s hard. Thanks for the cyber-support and some really great ideas for getting through it!

    • You’re welcome for the support :) I was there, but now, being done with it, I am here to help out anyone who is suffering! Cheers for trying your best & working on these things. YOU are not alone.

      <3

  2. caroline says:

    It is nice to hear such honest thoughts. I like the ideas you gave and think they are applicable no matter when.

  3. I’ve definitely experienced some of these tendencies… particularly eating alone because you’re ashamed to let people see the amount of food… so eating around people definitely helps… you’ve come so far and are SO CLOSE to DOMINATING the IM!!!

  4. Hey great post! It is not an easy thing overcome Binge because as you said there are so many things associated with it. I feel like there is a major lack of discipline in my life. Whenever I use to be home alone, I would put a movie on and sit with my favorite extreme high calorie food, which I would cook just for myself. (lol) I feel like the further away i am from my kitchen the better it is… Outside I am too ashamed to eat a burger and fries :P. But again its all about discipline in life…

  5. I sometimes wonder if I have an eating disorder. I eat healthy and small portions in front of my friends, like at work, but when I come home I can’t stop eating. I tell myself, like you, I won’t do this tomorrow, but I do. I always tell myself while eating, why are you purposely sabotaging yourself? You have an image that people look up to. How can you say live and be healthy, when your not? Yet I still do it! When my Husband tells me your still eating, I tell him I’m trying to consume at least 1200 calories that I didn’t get all day.

    I’ve been trying to distract myself with exercising and and spending time in my yard. I”m really trying to be better. I think I lost control somewhere from eating so little and missing out on the bad food that I over indulge. Plus I pit so much pressure on myself to be thin, that I get irritated and then eat!!

    Thank you for a great post!!

    • Hey girl. You rock–no matter what.

      I might suggest looking at your eating throughout the day–you might not be eating enough in the a.m., and thus feel the tendency to eat more later on in the day. If that isn’t the case, then yes, take a closer look at your emotions, what’s bothering you, and your stress levels. Taking steps in those directions can help you on the path to healthy living and eating.

      Cheers to doing your best! Thanks for reading :)

  6. your honesty is always so wonderful :) I definitely had episodes of binge eating and it was always when i was restricting myself way too much…it feels so much better to be on the other side where you are balanced and not restricting yourself to anything. i’m so glad you offer such great support to those that are struggling, its such a difficult cycle to be in!

  7. I appreciate your honesty and concern for those still struggling. However, I encourage you to write honestly on your amount of exercise and if this is reasonable. Would an increase in anxiety occur if you were unable to exercise for a week?

    • Hi Jenn. I had an exercise addiction in the past, but no longer am addicted. I regularly take days off and weeks off throughout the year. I never exercise more than 6 days/week. And I am currently training for a Half IM, which requires more training. Thank you for your concern, though!

  8. Thanks for this post Annette…I have spoken with you before about how I struggle in this area. For me it’s definitely stress related. I can have days that I’m ok and eat normally, but then if something is bothering me I start binging again, sometimes I don’t even realize something is bothering me until I see my eating habits change.

  9. Great post! Yes you hit the thought process that goes through the brain when it comes to binge eating. I suffered from binge eating and bulimia for more than 2 decades until I finally hit recovery about 5 years ago.

    In my head, when it came down to the binge eating it was the secrecy, the lies I told myself and believed. The idea that I would never be satiated and full.

    A huge part of my recovery it meant learning how to be accountable. Sharing with someone else what is going on in my head and accepting that it was just lies, coping mechanisms that no longer works for me. It really is a process. Thank you for your honesty and sharing your story here!

  10. Danielle says:

    Thanks for this amazing and profound post Anette, this is a very personal subject for me as well and one that I appreciate. Sharing does feel vulnerable, but I know now that it is okay to let people know that I had some times in my life where I made poor decisions and didn’t honor my body. I had an ED for over 20 years, starting when I was about 11 yrs old, and though it came in high’s and low’s, I didn’t get the help I needed till over a year ago. It’s crazy to think that I lived so many years, did so many “normal” things like school, jobs, business, travel, socialize, etc, but all while carrying this horrible ED that felt so shameful. God has been my true savior because without Him I would not be here today and experiencing all the abundance of love and joy and health.
    You are really an inspiration; I was having some hard times with my food and letting myself get caught up in restricting certain things, but I found that having athletic goals really help me, they save me from just thinking about food. Last week I restricted certain foods for a couple of days and had ZERO energy to train the way I wanted to; I thought it was ok since I’m injured and can’t train hard anyway, but I stil need energy. I was being silly again. I finally gave in and let myself have something I wanted and it felt good but also made me realize I still have issues with food. It’s a daily journey but I am thankful for every moment now and know I will always have God on my side.
    Thanks again, and Happy Wednesday :)

    • Beautifully written, Danielle! I am proud of you for trying hard, and for going after your fitness goals!! I agree–that is often helpful to be able to release some of that stress, and enjoy working on tough things.

      Have a lovely day <3

  11. You are so brave for sharing your story!! I have and still do sometimes struggle with disordered eating and whenever I see bloggers like you who are OK with coming out, being vulnerable, and sharing what worked for them to overcome ED habits, I am both relieved to know I’m not alone and hopeful that I can use your tips to help myself. Have a great day and keep on keepin’ on girl :)

    • You’re welcome. <3 I know I learn so much from others' stories, and it is something that can heal hearts and hurts when people know they are not alone.

      Have a lovely day! :)

  12. Wow, thank you for sharing so much! I am sure others who are going through this can find support and hope through this post.

  13. Absolutely love this post. I know how difficult binge eating is. How embarrasing it can make you feel, and how weak and depressed. I’ve been there and I still am sometimes. I was diagnosed with an eating disorder as well, it was so horrible – I had no cntrol over myself whatsover. I would go from one place to another, buying food and eating it as fast as I could, hoping that if I ate it quickly I wouldn’t have to deal with the embarassement that comes with it. I’ve been doing a lot better lately, lifting weights and keeping a blog has helped a lot.

    Keep shining <3 :) Thanks for the post.

  14. You know I 100% relate to this post. It is such a consuming, painful experience and people brush it off as “not a real disorder” or think it’s just eating an extra large piece of cake every now and again…not the extent that it does cause harm. I’m all for being open about it and letting others know they are not alone and that they CAN change.

  15. Thank you for sharing your experience on this topic Annette. I know how hard it must be to come out and admit to past struggles, but it truly will help lots of people not feel so alone and help them with their battle to overcome binge eating! I know that while recovering, it really helped to hear others stories overcoming anorexia, even though I hate to hear how others suffered it makes it more relatable in that way.
    I am so happy you are in a good place now!

  16. thanks for this post, Annette. I’ve been getting worse recently, I just get so exhausted from working so hard at it and it’s so much “easier” to go back to old ways. This post, plus some recent reflections, help me be more honest with myself and trying to kick it back into gear!

    • I am sorry to hear it’s been tough–but keep your chin up. You are MUCH stronger than you think, especially since you’re aware of what you’re doing.

      Keep being positive, and avoid negative thoughts about yourself or your body. Be kind to yourself, and then the kindness spreads to your actions.

      You ARE beautiful, and a wonderful person, Katie!!! <3

    • reader says:

      I struggle a LOT also. Like every day/night. But I’m different than others because I don’t exercise to “burn it off” the next day. i just take a slow walk or whatever. So I’m worried I”m really screwing up. Plus I have tons of digestive issues, sigh :(

  17. Thanks for posting your story Annette! Coming from an ED background myself – it’s never easy to post these stories but the amount of support and feedback you get makes it totally worth it.

    Congratulations on overcoming your binging disorder, that’s amazing!

  18. Thank you so much for this post. You are already such an inspiration to me as a blogger and a person and it’s great to be able to relate to you more and see that you’ve come out the other end in an amazing way! I think a big thing for me is to NOT say ‘I won’t do this again tomorrow’ but to instead accept it and move on not thinking about it. I feel by saying this won’t happen again I am setting myself up for failure. Because we aren’t perfect and it is inevitable that we will have moments when we stuff up. I am in the process of learning to deal with my issues instead of eating them- actually yesterday for the first time ever I prevented a binge!! And I believe it or not am finally starting to love and accept myself.

  19. Awesome post Annette! I love your openness and honesty! I totally relate to this. I suffered from anorexia for years and then switched to binge eating. I would often (I’m talking everyday!!!) save calories to be able to binge on huge amounts of high calorie foods. I guess the hoarding calories made me feel like I was justifying the binge. It made it okay to me. Every night after the binge I would think about how awesome I felt and I would feel like I didn’t need to do that again. But, the next day when I woke up hungry, I was already planning the binge for the night. I hate that we must suffer through things like this.

    • thank you!

      I agree-suffering from things like this is tough, but it has led me to such a beautiful place, and I wish that for ALL :)

  20. Love you- and this post!
    I dream of living in a world with no food issues- I am so determined to make it happen!

  21. kristle says:

    i think boxed cereal is a common binge food, at least i know it’s been a trigger for me, i think because of the sugar! i’ve also definitely gone through times when eating spoonfuls of peanut butter from the jar feels like the only thing that can comfort me.

  22. reader says:

    Do you chat just briefly/friendly with those who can’t afford coaching? just curious, thanks :) kinda reaching out I guess.

Trackbacks

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