Binge Eating Disorder – The Nitty Gritty

For those of you reading who have no idea what BED (binge eating disorder) is or what it’s like…I felt called to write a little bit about what it was like for me. These are just my personal experiences so it’s important to note that it can and will be different for everybody, but there is definitely some commonalty shared as well. BED isn’t just eating a little more than usual every now and again. It’s much more than that. It’s complex and the root issues for each of us will be different.

According to The National Eating Disorders Association “binge eating disorder is a severe and life threatening and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards, and not regularly using using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g purging) to counter the binge eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States” 

According to the NEDA there is diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder which includes the following:

Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both the following:

Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g within any 2 hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in similar period of time under similar circumstances. 

A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode. (E.g a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control how much one is eating)

The binge eating episodes are associated with 3 of the following:

Eating much more rapidly than normal

Eating until feeling uncomfortably full

Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry

Eating alone because one is embarrassed by how much one eats

Feeling disgusted with oneself, guilty or ashamed afterwards

Marked distress regarding binge eating is present

The binge eating occurs at least one average at least once a week for 3 months

the binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behaviours e.g (purging) as in bulimia nervosa and does not occur exclusively during the course of bulima nervosa or anorexia nervosa.”

For more information on warning signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder (or ANY eating disorders for that matter) please visit the NEDA website

Now for my personal experience on the act of binging as I can only really speak to that.

Binge Eating Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Recovery

I would sometimes binge 3,4,5 times per day every day for weeks on end. Before a binge I would think about what I would binge on and if I didn’t have something specific I would go out and get it. It was like an obsession that grew and grew. Usually it would happen when left alone especially in my teens and into my twenties. My parents would go away for a few weeks on a tropical vacation in my late teens (I’d stay at home with my older bro) and I would eat a weeks worth of groceries in a day or two. My brother would be infuriated and rightly so. I would eat his food and my own. I’d get almost like an excited feeling that came over me before hand. So excited for the taste of various foods. But I wouldn’t savour the food nor would I sit at a table and eat and almost ALWAYS I was alone eating it.

I barely chewed the food I ate so fast almost like I was in a state of manic. I would make an absolute mess in the process. I’d take everything out of the fridge and make multiple sandwiches, crackers with melted cheese, I’d open bags of chips, heck I’d even binge on veggies and dip and fruit and let me tell you; too much of anything is not good for you. Whatever was available I would get it out. I would order large pizzas and eat the entire thing in one sitting. When my parents or brother was home I would either purchase food and hide it in a purse or bag and run it up to my room or find food in the kitchen when they weren’t around and hide it in my bed room for later. I would sit or lay in my bed and eat food.  I’d spend a few hours eating until the point where I had really bad acid reflux and thought I would vomit (but never did vomit) then I would retreat to my bed and sleep off the binge, sometimes crying myself to sleep and crying when I woke up. And rinse and repeat this cycle. I’d shower the nasty memories off of me, brush my teeth and hope for the best for the next day.

Over the period of 3-5 years I went from probably 190 ish pounds to 260 pounds. The binge eating wreaked havoc on my already fragile immune system, hormones and body. It was apparent that candida overgrowth was taking over as I had tons of physical symptoms like white tongue, bad rash on hands, vaginal infections and more. This is what happens when shit gets out of control in your mind and body. I wouldn’t address the candida issue until my late twenties. Occasionally I still do have issues with it. A lasting nasty imprint by BED. At one point I even stopped purchasing new clothes. Nothing fit me in my closet anymore but I kept everything. I would be left wearing the same outfit every single day. I’d have to wash it every day. Stretchy black pants and a long sweater style tunic. In fact, I didn’t start purchasing new clothes until I was in a relationship with Brent. Anyways more on that to come – today is just about the act of binge eating. I describe it as almost a manic episode – a state of manic panic for any and all food.

As I stated above, most people will have a root cause for why and how the eating disorder came about. My root cause stemmed from constant emotional and environmental trauma/turmoil sustained over a long period of time. I.e stuck in flight or fight for many years and unfortunately I could not nor did I find professional help to help dig me out. I could not control the situation unfolding around me or the environment and the way I chose to respond to it was from shutting down and eating up all of the hurt and emotions with food. It started from such a young age that I just was not equipped to handle things and it grew to be my version if normal life. If you suspect you have an eating disorder I strongly advise you to seek professional help which is safe and supportive. I was not aware that this was my root issue until I was out of that environment many years later. It took some “dark night of the soul” searching and constant inner child work.

I have not had a binge episode in probably almost two years now. Like I said, once I left the environment where I grew up, created some solid boundaries with those who have hurt me (forgiven but boundaries remain) and surrounded myself with supportive people (my husband) it just became easy for me to stop. Now, I write about it to hopefully help others who are or have been in similar situations. These days I can’t bring myself to do even do “breakfast in bed”. You know how you see those romantic movies where the husband brings the wife breakfast in bed? Yea…nope. Not doing it! So thankful my husband understands. It was even hard for me to sit on our bed and eat room service or other little things that came with our honeymoon package on our honeymoon cruise. But in a small cruise room there is nowhere else to eat! People laugh because it seems harmless to them. But for me The memories are still fresh and I don’t ever want to go down that rabbit hole again.

Hopefully this helps you to understand a little more into what BED actually is. Please remember, you can’t force anyone to stop. You can’t just snap your fingers and the eating disorder goes away. It’s something that they will have to come to terms with and they alone will be the one to wade out of the mud. For some people it takes medication, years of therapy, addressing root causes, childhood trauma and things of that nature. I have had to look at my childhood, do lots of shadow work, address triggers, behaviours, relationships and so much more. It’s been painful but ultimately it’s what has worked best for my recovery.

Until next time!

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