How an Ex-Binge Eater Survives the Holidays

Hey I’m an reformed binge-eater!  Did you know that?  Now you do.  Want to know how I don’t binge during the holidays?  Well let me tell you a secret, I totally do binge.  Thanksgiving was last week.  The day before Thanksgiving I weighed the lowest I have since I rowed for UT.  Part of me was like “well, might as well not eat Thanksgiving dinner or I’ll ruin it”.  But the other part of me was like “NO, this is life and Thanksgiving only comes once a year and I’m going to enjoy it”.  So there’s that.  I went to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving with my cousins and handsome fella.  Not only did I eat a plate full of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, hashbrown casserole, creamed corn, and rolls, but I went back for seconds (and a little bit of thirds).  Oh and I had fudge, cupcakes, and cheesecake for dessert.  Did I feel heavy and stuffed afterwards?  You bet your bottom dollar I did.  Did I feel guilty afterwards?  Nope, not a lick.    And you know what?  I lived.

my cousins are finally taller than me.

my cousins are finally taller than me.

I left feeling oversatisfied.  Technically dinner was a binge because I basically ate way past satisfaction and I ate in an uncontrollable manner.  But there was no guilt there because I really felt Thanksgiving Day was a day to indulge.  I saw lots of people on Instagram posting “healthy” concoctions of their meals and I’m not knocking that at all since staying on track takes a lot of willpower but I just went big and didn’t even care.

Although I didn’t feel bad on Thanksgiving Day for what I ate (or even the day after), I still chose to eat poorly in the days following including a Friday outing to a Mexican restaurant and a Saturday night date starting with REAL hot cocoa at a friend’s house followed by dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.   123cheesecake

homemade cocoa in an oversized cup?  yes, please.

homemade cocoa in an oversized cup? yes, please.

But today is a new day and my Momma and I were up this morning hitting the gym for a class called Pure Muscle.   Hopefully I did work my muscles because my arms are still hurting.  I ran another timed mile like I have done for the past 2 Mondays and today’s was in 9:07 which makes it 20 seconds faster than the first one I did two weeks ago.  I’m loving that Monday mile.  Tonight I’m heading back to the gym for spin class with the Biggest Winner team.  I love watching them step out of their comfort zones and I love helping my Momma.

Pure Muscle class.

Pure Muscle class.

So, while I chose to “binge” on Thanksgiving Day and eat whatever I wanted in unlimited amounts, I did not feel guilty.  That is a huge step because I spent months in therapy focused on the emotion of guilt related to eating.  Not feeling guilty is a major step in recovery.  The only thing I failed at was continuing to eat poorly in the days following.  My body felt heavy, my clothes fit tighter, and a few tears may have been shed yesterday but recognizing that it’s okay and to move on is a good realization.  Christmas is around the corner and of course I will indulge in the usual holiday treats but I’m going to work extra hard to not take home leftovers and to make sure the “bad” eating stays at the party and that the next day I get right back on track.  I lived through one holiday and I know I can live through another.  Being mindful that it is a holiday (one day) and not a month-long or even week-long thing will really help me come Christmas.  Bring it on!

How do you deal with food during the holiday season?  What did your Thanksgiving meal consist of?

Tips to Avoid a Food Binge

It is no secret that I struggle with a serious addiction of food and was even diagnosed with a binge eating disorder.  Over the last several months I have really tried to focus in on what makes me binge and ways to address it.  My therapist often had me think of reasons that I binged and then encouraged me to mentally place myself in a binge situation then verbally say how I would attack it.  This sort of role play really did wonders mentally.  If I could think about the situation before it happened then I was better equipped to handle it once the issue arose.  Mind you, this doesn’t always work and there are still days when the urge to binge controls my mind.  But I get through.

Sure I overeat sometimes, but that is normal.  I rarely full on binge anymore and if I do then the next day I pick up the pieces and move on.  It certainly is not as easy as it sounds but wallowing in pity will only make me eat more.  So, I’d like to share with you some ways I have learned to avoid binge eating.  You may have heard some of these before since a few of them are talked about a lot but a friendly reminder never hurt anyone.

  • Plan ahead.  This seems like a given but so many of us (myself included) fail at this.  If we know that we are going to be out and about all day then it is imperative we pack a meal or some snacks for the road.  Not only does this help in not stopping by Taco Bell, but it aids in satisfying our appetite so we don’t feel famished later on which could potentially result in a binge.  Same goes for restaurants.  Women like to have conversations over a good meal.  If you know that you and friends will be meeting for lunch or dinner then try to see if the restaurant has its menu or nutrition content online so you can walk in confident in the food choice you will make and not be caught off guard when the menu arrives.  Planning ahead also consists of meal planning.  If you know exactly what groceries you need at the store then you are much less likely to make a purchase from the candy aisle.
  • Pre-portion your food at home.  I despise doing dishes and cooking multiple times a week so I usually spend one day cooking all of the meats I have purchased so I won’t have to worry about it later.  Usually I will put all my cooked chicken in a big bowl and then divide it into small plastic baggies for fridge storage.  Doing this helps me not put a little bit of extra chicken on my plate when I go to reheat it.  This is also helpful because once you portion it out you know exactly how much you have left for the rest of the week.   You could also do this with snacks like carrots or baked chips so that if you are in a hurry to rush out the door you can go ahead and grab that plastic bag and be on your way.
  • Don’t focus on “bad” foods.  Binge eaters tend to feel bad about themselves after a binge.  Multiple reasons go into this but a main one is that we feel bad that we ate “bad”.  I heard a quote recently about there is no such thing as bad food.  While I do not wholeheartedly agree with this, I can see the valid argument.  One french fry isn’t horrible for you, but a whole order could be.  But we have this mindset that certain foods are the enemy and then when we indulge or binge in them we are left feeling bad since we believe that the food is bad.  That is a bad cycle.  If you must splurge on a so called “bad” food then just be aware of the portion of it and think of it as a treat and not something that is bad and horrible for you because that will leave you feeling guilty and bad yourself.
  • Cards in the trunk.  My biggest binge spot is my car.  I pass more than a dozen lovely fast food restaurants on the way home and could easily pop through the drive-thru and go through my ritual of trying to get the employee to believe that I’m getting food for multiple people and no one else would ever know that I ate that food.  The car is a danger zone.  A trick I learned is to put my debit card in the trunk of my car.  When I’m driving past CookOut and really craving a hot dog and milkshake then I am a million times less likely to pull over, pop the trunk, get out and retrieve the cards, then go through the drive-thru.  Too much work.  This trick really works for someone like me who has issues with binge eating in the car.  Another card tip that I found out through a recent customer is to take a Sharpie and literally write NO JUNK FOOD on the card.  When she presented her card to me I inquired as to why that was written on it and she explained that by putting it on there then she is too embarrassed to purchase fast food or junk food.  That was a new concept for me but she swears by it so that may be another option.
  • Brush your teeth like your dentist is watching.  I’ve long heard the brush your teeth tip but taking it to the next level might be even more helpful to avoiding a binge.  If you brush your teeth for a solid two minutes, rinse, use mouth wash, and then meticulousy floss then that will take up a good five minutes of your time.  Time to think about the binge, reflect on why you don’t want to binge, and plus it makes your tastebuds all out of wack so you may not even crave that food anymore.
  • Talk it out.  Ever have something you need to do and then get a phone call and suddenly forget what you were supposed to do in the first place?  If you feel a binge coming on then call a friend.  Talk about the weather, the Braves game, future plans, whatever!  Just get your mind off of the binge and see how you feel after.  Heck, snapchat your neighbor if you have to.  Anything that involves getting your mind off food and your craving.
  • Drink it up!  I love water.  Absolutely adore it.  I even wrote a whole post on why I love hydrating.  Water fills me up and leaves me feeling satisfied.  If I feel a binge coming on, I can fill up my bottle and focus on emptying it.  It gives my hand and mouth something to do and helps my stomach out, too.  9 times out of 10 I won’t binge after really focusing on hydrating.

Hope these tips give you some insight on what works for me and tips that have aided me in becoming a recovering binge eater.  Do you have any tips that work for you or that you would like to share?  Would love to hear about them!

A New Day

I posted this the first time and WordPress deleted most of my word content and just posted photos.  My apologies if you see this twice.

First off, I want to give a big thank you to those who sent me such sweet words of encouragement concerning my binge eating disorder.  The outpouring of love I felt through texts, tweets, comments and emails was really overwhelming and I am so grateful for this wonderful community who can come together and support each other.  Thank you all! 

Today is a new day and it felt so great to get my secret off  my chest.  Yes, I put myself in a vulnerable position, but healing is about opening up and not hiding-especially behind food.  I was able to have a great day of eating yesterday and had no desire whatsoever to binge.  While grocery shopping, I discovered an extremely delicious soup that has rice, chicken, beans, corn, onions, and peppers in it.  It was part of Progresso soup’s new Light line.  The best part is that it doesn’t taste light at all and resembles a tortilla soup flavor without being creamy.  I ate it right up and it kept me nice and full for the rest of the afternoon.

spoonful of amazing

spoonful of amazing

Later in the afternoon my sweet friend Jess and I decided to hit the gym for some miles around the track.  The original plan was to walk the greenway but crazy winds and frigid temps forced us inside.  We ended up logging 4 miles around the indoor track.  I could never do that by myself-so boring and monotonous.  But having a friend to chat with made it go by so much faster and was much more enjoyable.  Afterwards, we did the stationary bike for twenty minutes.  Not the best or most hardcore workout, but miles are miles and at least we were moving.

reppin' my Nuun HTC shirt

reppin’ my Nuun HTC shirt

This morning I got up and had my usual breakfast.  I was able to sit down and enjoy the food and not feel the rush of forcing it in my mouth.  It was nice and I felt totally in control.  As I was getting ready this morning and having an all out dance party in my mirror to the tune of Flashdance, I decided to check out my “guns”.  I’ve been working hard to lift weights and do push ups at least twice a week and was interested in seeing if there was any visible progress.  Sure enough, there was a teensy eensy wee bit of muscle in my arm.  Not a lot, but just enough for me to notice.  Now if I could just get rid of the fat on my arms, then they would look banging.  Working on that.

just a wee bit of muscle

just a wee bit of muscle

Tonight I am joining my family in a birthday dinner for my cousin.  I know that I have the power to make a good decision regarding what I eat and don’t eat.   It will be a good test of willpower.  I also have a meeting this afternoon with my therapist.  It will be hard to discuss my big setback in progress but I know that he will accept me as I am and it will be a good session.  Happy Thursday, y’all.

True Life: I Have an Eating Disorder

The words eating disorder have a certain ring to them that can make any person cringe.  Usually the first thoughts that come to mind is someone who is suuuuuper skinny, yet sees their self as fat  or someone who eats a lot and then forces themselves to throw up later.  But there is a third condition in the realm of eating disorders: binge eating.   The Mayo Clinc defines binge eating disorder as the following:

Binge-eating disorder is a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food. Almost everyone overeats on occasion, such as having seconds or thirds of a holiday meal. But for some people, overeating crosses the line to binge-eating disorder and it becomes a regular occurrence, usually done in secret.

Some major symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food
  • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
  • Eating rapidly during binge episodes
  • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
  • Frequently eating alone
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
  • Losing and gaining weight repeatedly, also called yo-yo dieting

Sounds scary, right? I suffer from all symptoms listed above.  After my post about feeling bullied I spoke with a friend concerning my eating habits.  She told me about how she often used to feel the same way and visited a counseling center to deal with her eating.  I took note and one fateful Thursday, she made the trip with me to meet with a psychologist, holding my hand the whole way.  After the initial appointment, the psychologist suggested that I seek weekly individual counseling with another therapist.  The thought terrified me.  I made a call to my mother and tried to tell her.  Through the unending sobs, I just could not get the words out.   I ended up sending her an email to tell her that there was a reason I struggle with food so much.  It is because I have an eating disorder.

So, you may be wondering what binge eating disorder looks like.  It is hard to sometimes classify binge eating because it usually involves overeating, which so so so many Americans love to do.  Is going out to eat with your family binge eating?  Can anyone be a binge eater?  What classifies someone as a binge eater?  These are all questions I desperately seeked answers to, praying that I was just an avid overeater and that I didn’t have an eating disorder.  I sought help and am currently receiving it.  My questions are being answered, and my body and mind are both in a recovery process.

Here’s my story and what binge eating looks like for me.

I am currently a senior in college and have struggled with food my entire life.  I literally have a photo of myself circa 9 years old eating straight from a huge bag of cheetos drinking a 2-liter of soda.  Back then, I felt no shame in eating.  Now eating has become eating that same bag of cheetos, but adding in a bag of salt and vinegar chips, Doritos, and pretzels and eating every last bite all alone behind closed doors.  When I have finally finished and am physically sick to my stomach due to it being so full, I put the empty bags in my backpack, walk down the hallway, and put them down the trash chute.  Destroying the evidence.  Some nights it might look like getting two combo meals from Cookout, a combo from Taco Bell, an order of nuggets and fries from Chick fil a, then sitting in my parking garage in the farthest corner I can find and eating every single bit of food as fast as my body will allow.  Promptly after finishing this binge fest, I get out to throw away the trash, then go find a parking spot closer to my apartment.  There have been times that I go into a normal fast food joint, ordering a normal size meal that a normal person would eat.  Then after examining who is working behind the counter, I go through the drive through, ordering more food, always ordering two drinks, and making the person taking my order think that there is more than one person that this food is intended.  I get to the window and am so overly nice since the kind lady working the register has no idea I was just in there and that she just politely handed me my poison of choice.

Or other times binge eating looks like going out to eat with friends at a sit down restaurant, ordering a normal menu item, and being “too full” to finish, then proceed to hit two fast food stops on my way home to reward myself for not cleaning my plate in front of my friends.  Sometimes I hide in my vehicle and eat in shame, other times I hide the food in my backpack, walk through my apartment saying hello to my roommates, then lock the door behind me as I scarf down more food than my body can handle before my roomies knock on my door wanting to chat.  I tell them to hold on while I change clothes, trying so hard to hide the bags in my closet.  This is binge eating.

Usually on binge days, I sit in class daydreaming about what I’m going to eat afterwards.  The thought of food consumes my mind sometimes and my mind is always wondering when my stomach will gets its next fix.  When I do binge, I feel out of control.  Even when I eat past the point of sickness, my brain won’t tell my hands to stop going to my mouth.  I reach a fullness capacity and still refuse to put the food down.

I have wonderful friends, a great boyfriend, magnificent parents, and I am enjoying my senior year of college.  My ducks are all in order.  I don’t hide in my bedroom or my car because I’m weird and anti-social because I’m not.  I do it because I’m ashamed.  If a skinny person ate two huge combos by themselves, they and others would joke around and loosely use the term “fatty”.  But if a fat person like me was seen doing the exact same thing, words would go unspoken, and judgments would filter the air.  As long as no one can see me indulge in my overpowering food desires, then they don’t know that I do.  Hiding is part of the shame.

Food fills my stomach and body until I get physically ill, sometimes throwing up.  Not because I purge myself like a bulimic, but simply because my body needs to spit out the excess that I consumed in under 10 minutes.  I end up staring at my wrappers, empty boxes, and crumbs and feeling disgusted, guilty, and discouraged.  Usually a multitude of tears follow and I crawl into bed praying that morning comes so I can forget the negative and hateful feelings that flood my mind.  Being fat isn’t fun.  Being a binge eater is even worse.  I am addicted to something that surrounds me constantly.  Food.

I make a conscious effort to avoid the scale at all costs on binge days.  The number is only an ordinal to the level of unhappiness my body feels on the inside.  A number isn’t important at that point.  My weight loss goals aren’t important.  I’m not important.  What is important at that point is food.  On non-binge days I hop on the scale crossing my fingers and toes that the number will be acceptable to me.  If not, it usually induces me into a binge state.  In my mind I know what it takes to lose weight.  I know that eating a great diet and being more active will get me the results I want.  But sometimes when my mind is focusing on a binge, it doesn’t think logically.  I know what it takes.  After all, I have lost 57 pounds before and felt good doing it.  I can be that person again.

Binge eating disorder is a real thing and it shakes me to my core.  Now, there are some days that I don’t binge at all and don’t even have the thought of a binge.  Other days I don’t binge at all and fight all day for the accomplishment of saying I did not binge.  And of course other days I binge with regret, guilt, and disappointment.  Most recently, I made it 22 days without a binge.  But food got the best of me.

So, to treat my eating disorder, I meet once a week with  my therapist.  We sit in a room with big comfy chairs facing each other.   He doesn’t write anything down, but all of our sessions are both filmed and recorded.  I always have a box of tissues next to me ready to wipe any tears that never fail to make an appearance.  We talk, he asks me questions, and I answer as honestly as possible.  I get real, I get raw, and I get emotional.   I say things that have been hidden and suppressed for so long and I do not receive judgement.  It is such a liberating feeling to freely express my addiction and disorder with someone whose primary concern is to help me heal and recover from it.  I always leave counseling with a huge weight off my shoulders.  The past three weeks have been great, and like I said, I made it 22 days without a binge.

Over the next couple of months, I will be sharing random tidbits of what I learn in therapy and how I am recovering from my eating disorder in addition to my regular postings about becoming a runner and losing weight.  A long road definitely lies in front of me, but I hope that by being honest and real here on my blog that people will know who I really am and that will encourage me not to hide my shame and guilt.  Maybe some of you are struggling just like I was/am.  Please know that you are not in this alone and that there are people and resources there willing to help you.  I may have an eating disorder, but an eating disorder does not have me.