Tag Archives: Binge Eating Disorder

Ways to Help Me Recover From Binge Eating

Thanks for all the supportive comments on my previous post. I had to cancel my dietician’s appointment yesterday because my husband would be visitng me straight out of work. Today, I celebrate one week free from binge eating. I did buy candy once this week, but managed to spread eating it out. Saw on Thursday at the dentist’s office that bingeing is better for your teeth than eating the same amount of candy spread out over a whole day, but with the speed at which I usually binge eat, I can’t imagine this being healthy for the rest of your body.

Day two of the recovery challenge asks you to list what you have done to help yourself in your recovery. Since I’m not really in recovery at this point, I’m listing the strategies recommended to me. The hard part with overeating is that you can’t just avoid the substance of abuse (in this case food) entirely, as with alcohol or drugs. You therefore need to also know what is normal eating, and that has been a challenge for me.

Now candy isn’t necessary for your body. The first recommendation I got from my dietician is therefore really teh drug abuse recovery approach applied to candy: avoiding it altogether. As I said above, this has not been successful with me – even in a week that was free from bingeing, I did eat candy. I do think I may want to try this again, however, because, you know, I just don’t really know how to moderate my eating when I have candy within reach. I get three healthy meals a day and usually snacks too provided by the institution, so yeah.

Then I tried buying candy only at one set time during the week. This was my most recent agreement with my dietician, and I’ve so far not been too successful. Yes, I’ve had weeks where I bought candy only once, but I’ve also had weeks where I bought it more often.

Related to the previous one is the idea of having set snack times during the day. I would have to be really strict with myself as to extinguish the need for instant gratification. For example, I might set 3:00 PM to 3:15 PM as snack time. Suppose I get the urge to binge at 2:00 PM. Then I would have to delay the need for gratification for an hour. My dietician said it didn’t matter what I ate as long as I didn’t go over the fifteen-minute limit. The thing is, I can eat a large bag of candies in such a timeframe.

Another possible approach is buying alternative comfort foods that are healthier. For example, bingeing on carrots won’t hurt. My dietician at one point advised against this because it’d mean food would still be on my mind all the time, but this has seemed to be the most successful approach.

of course, there are other ways to deal with the stress that causes an urge to binge. Exercise, talking it out, mindfulness, etc. I have not yet found one that truly helps, but I’m still searching. If you have any ideas, feel free to share.

The last approach, something I most recently learned of, is approaching the urge to binge as an animalistic impulse rather than as a part of yourself or as fulfilling any true need. I have not really investigated this approach, but it seems to involve learning to recognize your “animal brain” and learning to extinguish its instinct-driven responses. Seems interesting, as my mind does seem to think I’m going to starve if I don’t eat right now. That’s not literally what I think, but it does come down to it.

Letter to My Eating Disorder

Tomorrow, I’m having a dietician’s appointment. I have probably gained a lot of weight and at the very least my eating habits have been crap. I am feeling that focusing on weight loss doesn’t always help me. I’m not even sure I’m motivated to lose weight, but I am definitely motivated to stop bingeing. Or am I? In order to motivate myself, or examine why I am or am not motivated for recovery, I looked up eating disorder recovery challenges. I’m not active on Tumblr, where most such challenges are hosted, but I thought I could do one on my blog.

For day one of this challenge, you are asked to write a letter to your addiction or disorder. Here goes.

Dear binge eating,

You have been with me since early adolescence or before. You crept into my life slowly. At age fourteen, I read an article in a teenage magazien about eating disorders, and, like so many teen girls, I was touched. I didn’t want an eating disorder, but I was struggling. I did want a way to express my struggle. Little did I know that you had already entered my life.

The article was mostly about anorexia. I admired these young women, in a way, because they had perseverance. In another way, I felt that if I had an eating disorder, maybe then people would see I struggled. I started counting calories and using a food diary, but I never stopped eating. In fact, I overate. You were already in my life. I didn’t realize you were an eating disorder just the same.

For a while in adolescence, and then again for a while in my mid-twenties, I had bulimic tendencies. These gave me a reason to believe I was really struggling. I took you seriously, but wasn’t really motivated to let go of you. I was at a healthy weight, but because I purged, I had an eating disorder. I joined Proud2Bme, a Dutch eating disorder recovery site. Not that I really wanted to recover. In fact, I at one poitn joined a pro-ana site. I was already ovrweight by this point.

I stopped purging in 2012, and from then on, I was “in recovery”. I didn’t like this point, because I was still struggling, and I still had a need to feel that my pain was real. I don’t mean this, for clarity’s sake, towards others. I hardly ever disclosed that I had purged when I still did. But to myself, purging had to be in my life to justify my pain.

Meanwhile, you took over more and more of my life. I didn’t realize you were a problem until I reached obesity. At that point, I realized you were in my life, and you were serious. This wasn’t till about half a year ago.

You are strong. I think of you on a daily basis. Sometimes, I cling to you, and sometimes, I curse at you. You have caused me to gain over 30 pounds since 2011. Yet you’ve been in my life much longer, I know. In middle and high school, I would buy a sausage roll and bag of candies every single day. I remember one day in seventh grade, buying five candy bars. My classmates told me I was being outrageous, but I ate them all anyway. I didn’t really know what was normal. Now I do.

I am not sure at this point I want to get rid of you. You fulfill my need to do something about my strong, unstable emotions. You fulfill a need for instant gratification that I’ve always had. Yet if I don’t get rid of you, this is making you worse, and making the need for instant gratification worse by reinforcing it. But if I do get rid of you, will the need go away, or will you just be replaced with some other addiction? I will have to find this out, but I do want to take on the challenge and try to get rid of you.

Sincerely,

Astrid

Week of August 11 to 17, 2014 #Mumslist

This week, Mums’ List is being hosted by Aby of You Baby Me Mummy because Hannah of Mums’ Days is on holiday. I haven’t reflected back on the week yet, so this is the perfect time to do so.

Real Life


  • Haven’t been too crafty this week. Finished a card for my mother. It was about time, because it’s an extremely late thank-you card for my birthday presents. I forgot to scan it before I put it in an envelope, so no picture, sorry. Other than that, I have only just started working on the Christmas card I said I’d make this week.

  • Received my art doll for a mixed media swap I’m in. Haven’t even started working on the one for my swap partner. The deadline isn’t until October 1.

  • Ate out twice this wek. Once, on Thursday, I took my husband to the local Chinese restaurant. I loved my gon bao chicken. On Friday, we ate out while we were shopping for jeans at a nearby wholesale store. Thankfully, I still fit in the same size I had last year – which is still three sizes above the size I always had, but well.

  • Had a horrible week re my eating habits. Binged on winegums on Friday so badly that I was sick all day yesterday. Got fries today anyway. Had binge eating episodes on two other days this week.

  • Did go to the gym on Thursday.

  • Both my computers are still working, but now my braille display is acting up.

  • Have been reading Angels at Our Table edited by Ann Breen. It’s a book of stories from families with Williams Syndrome children.

Blogging / Social Media


  • Started over with my Facebook page – again. This time, I was actually planning to stick to it, but since I hardly do photos and since WP won’t let me share posts to both my page and my profile, I really don’t know. I could seriously use some advice on what’s the point of a Facebook page and how to use it.

  • Did write not just one but two original blog posts.

  • New blog discovery: Edspire.

  • Most inspiring read: Emma’s guest post on fetal valproate syndrome for Victoria Welton’s blog. This is something I want to learn more about.

I don’t really have goals for the upcoming week, other than finally kicking binge eating’s arse. I have a dietician’s appointment on Friday and a therapy appointment on Tuesday. Will discuss the binge eating issue with my therapist – the dietician already knows.

The Five Stages of Grief in the Recovery Process from Binge Eating

When browsing blogs on mental health on Mumsnet, I came across a blog on recoveyr form alcoholism. While there, I found a post on the five stages of grief in substance abuse. You are probably familiar with Elisabeth Küber-Ross’ five stages of grief in bereavement. These same stages apply to some extent to those recovering from an addiction:


  • Denial: people feel that they do not have a problem concerning alcohol or substances. Even if they do feel as if they might have a small problem, they believe that they have complete control over the situation and can stop drinking or doing drugs whenever they want.

  • Anger at the fact that the addict has an addiction or at the fact that they can no longer use alcohol or drugs.

  • Bargaining: the stage where people are trying to convince themselves or others that they will stop substance abuse in order to get out of trouble or to gain something.

  • Depression: sadness and hopelessness, which usually happen during the withdrawal process from alcohol or drugs.

  • Acceptance, not merely as in admitting you have a problem with alcohol or drugs. Acceptance involves actively resolving the addictioon.

I do not have an alcohol or drug problem, but I do exhibit disordered eating. I wonder to what extent these stages of grief apply to the recovery process from eating disorders, in my case mostly binge eating. Denial is certainly common in individuals with all types of disordered eating. I for one was in the stage of denial up until quite recently. This is not merely not being aware of the problem, like I was in early adolescence. Rather, from my teens on, I did realize to some extent that my eating habits weren’t normal. I remember one day buying five candy bars at once and eating them all in one go. When my classmates pointed out that this was outrageous, I shifted from lack of awareness of my eating disorder into denial.

As I said, I stayed in denial for years. I continued buying sausage rolls for lunch every single day until the end of high school, then at blindness rehab ate candy and chips everyday. I gained rougly ten pounds in those four months at blindness rehab, thereby reaching the upper limit of a healthy BMI.

It took several more years before I moved into the stage of anger. By 2008, I was convinced I would die young, and my unhealthy eating habits were one reason for this. I hated myself and my body, yet didn’t stop eating unhealthy amounts of candy. If anything changed at all, I binged more.

I don’t know how I maintained a relatively healthy weight until 2012, but I did. I did start purging in 2011, which can be seen as either a response to anger or a form of bargaining. After all, bargaining can also be seen as trying to reduce the (effects of the) addiction while not completely trying to abandon it.

I reached overweight status in 2012, then obese a few months ago. I started going to a dietician in 2012, then quit going again, went back in the fall of 2013, quit again, and recently started going again. I am still at the stage of bargaining regarding my disordered eating. When told I just need to stop buying candy, I object. Instead, I want to lessen my candy consumption, keep it under control. Yet isn’t the whole point of an addiction not the substance, but the lack of control? I know that one difference between food and alcohol or drugs is that you can’t completely abandon food, and my dietician said that getting fruit or veggies within easy reach as a substitute for candy, is unlikely to work. After all, I’m going to keep the idea that food is an easy way out of emotional stress.

Overeating or Binge Eating Disorder: Is It “Food Addiction”?

I have had issues with disordered eating since early adolescence. I mostly engage in overeating or maybe even binge eating (a binge being a distinct period of severe overeating accompanied by a feeling of being out of control). When I still purged regularly several years ago, I took my eatig issue much more seriously than I do now, despite my overeating/bingeing having gotten worse over time and my weight recently having increased to a number that is within the obese range for my height.

Overeating is often seen as an addiction. I’ve never really seen my eating habits as such, and I wonder what the implications would be if “food addiction” were formally recognized. Curtis & Davis (2014) ask the same question in the conclusion to their qualitative study of “food addiction” in obese women with and without binge eating disorder (BED). In their study, all BED women met criteria for “food addiction” when DSM-5 criteria of substance use disorder were used with food being the substance. Obese women who didn’t suffer from BED also often displayed “food addiction” symptoms. They however attributed their inability to stop overeating more to liking the food or not wanting to stop than to feeling intrinsically unable to stop.

Interestingly, many women in the study weren’t sure whether they were food addicts when directly asked about it. I can relate to this. I at one point participated in an unofficial Overeaters Anonymous online group, and didn’t feel this suit me really. I do notice that I hold many of the same misconceptions about what an addiction is that the study authros found. For example, I tend to believe food cannotbe addictive because we need it, that substance abusers use their substance all the time, etc. The idea of food as an addictive substance does raise questions about what it is to be dependent on a substance. I know that the DSM-5 removed the distinction between substance abuse and substance dependence, and, in a way, this is good. Then again, you can get physically dependent on certain substances, and that makes an addiction to that substance (eg. alcohol) look more real than an addiction to a substance that you won’t develop physical dependence. Addiction to a substance you can’t get physically dpeendnet on, in turn, looks more real than behavioral addictions like “Internet Addiction”. These novel addictive disorder concepts do create fundamental debates about personal responsibility, which do have implications for treatment. After all, an impulse control disorder is treated differently from a substance dependence.

Reference

Curtis C & Davis C (2014), A Qualitative Study of Binge Eating and Obesity From an Addiction Perspective. Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention, 22(1):19-32. DOI: 10.1080/10640266.2014.857515.

My Experience with Disordered Eating #NEDAwareness

This week is NEDAwareness week, a week to raise awareness of disordered eating and body image issues, established by the National Eating Disorders Association. I have several things to say about disordered eating and body image issues, and at first, I was going to write a list of common myths about eating disorders. These, however, are all over the Internet already. The only thing I might be able to add is the Dutch perspective. However, another way of addressing common myths about disordered eating and body image is to share my own experience.

First, I do not nd have never had a diagnosable eating disorder. I do however have pretty significant issues with disordered eating and body image. I mostly engage in binge eating, which I do on average once or twice a week. I overeat on more occasions, but then I either don’t eat so much that it can be considered a binge or don’t feel as though I’ve lost control. You see, I’ve lost sight of what is and isn’t nromal, how much to eat, etc.

To get to a common myth anyway: many people believe that you can only have an eating disorder if you’r thin, and/or that anorexia is the most common eating disorder. In fact, in the Netherlands, there are twnety times more people with eating disorders who have a healthy weight than there are people with anorexia. Binge eating disorder, which is what I am closest to, is the most common eating disorder, followed by bulimia and then anorexia. I still encounter people, including nurses, who say that I “only” overeat, so what’s the big deal? About three years ago, I started occasionally inducing vomiting, and that’s when my eating issue first felt real to me. In reality, I’ve had binge eating episodes since adolescence.

I am overweight. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m currently obese, but I haven’t weighed myself in months. On the Dutch eating disorder site I participate on, there were topics for discussing underweight and then healthy weight long before the admins finally opened a discussion thread on overweight. Most people believe that eating disorders are something you can overcome by just trying, and this is especially true for binge eating. I won’t say that people don’t minimize the struggles anorexics face, but with binge eating, people often assume that you just like to snack. On the same Dutch eating disorder site I mentioned, there is a blog post on the difference between an eating issue and an eating disorder, and someone who likes high-calorie food is portrayed as the one with the eating issue, while an underweight, restricting person is portrayed as the one with the eating disorder.

Let’s get one thing straight: you can have any weight and have an eating disorder. You can also display any number of eating-related behaviors and have an eating disorder. Examples of eating disordered behaviors include bingeing, purging, restricting, but also having rigid rituals or rules around eating. I know that rituals around eating dono’t mean you have an eating disorder per se, but they may be a sign of eating issues and they can interfere with healthy food intake and daily life. For example, if you’re so self-conscious about your weight (whether you actually are overweight or underweight or not) that you don’t want to eat in other people’s presence, this can lead to a lot of problems in your social life and can also mean you get less food into your body than you need, even if you’re not consciously restricting. Also, eating only a select number of foods or food types can be very unhealthy. I’ve heard of something called selective eating disorder, but this is not recognized by clinicians at this point. In my own experience, this habit interacts with my binge eating behaviors. For example, if I’ve had something for lunch that I don’t like (and I’m a very picky eater I’m told), I run a high risk of bingeing later in the day.

Lastly, I want to dismantle one myth that isn’t applicable to me personally: that eating disorders only affect white adolescent females. (Well, okay, I’m not an adolescnet anymore, but I’m white and I’m female.) There was a Dutch study in 2012 that asked around 250 high school boys about their eating and body image. As many as 25% had eating disorder features, including calorie counting (13%), being significantly underweight (10%) and laxative abuse (2%). This study showed the fact that eating disorders are probably underrecognized in males.