I developed binge eating disorder when I was 26 years old, after spending countless hours and mental energy on dieting, eating perfectly, and obsessing about my body and weight. Of course, I didn’t actually realize I had BED right away. Instead, after a while I realized it wasn’t normal that I was consuming huge portions of food whenever I was alone. I crammed so much in, and with such intensity, that I scared myself. I turned to the Internet to figure out what, exactly, I was dealing with.
After realizing I had a problem, I tried to remedy it. How? By dieting even more, of course!
I thought if I could just perfect my way of eating and get the “right” body, then I’d be done with binge eating. It didn’t help that a therapist (one who was not specifically trained to deal with eating disorders) insisted that if I only gave up white flour and white sugar that all of my binge eating problems would be forever solved. Sadly, she was wrong, and although she helped me in many other ways, my binge eating continued, in varying degrees, for a number of years.
But instead of telling you what didn’t work, I want to tell you what did. First, I read many, many, many books on the subject of binge and emotional eating. I took Runaway Eating by Cynthia Bulik out of the library numerous times. I read oodles of books by Geneen Roth. For the first time I latched onto the idea that maybe I should be able to eat whatever I wanted. (Every time I tried it, though, I ended up eating a ridiculous amount and then being so terrified of gaining weight I immediately started dieting again.)
I read about intuitive eating. I read about women and their relationship with their bodies. I read books about health and continued to search for the “right” way to eat. I also held onto the belief that I had to get my body to the desired size and weight before I could be comfortable around food. I read books that told me I was addicted to sugar, books that told me to accept myself as I was, books that told me to plan my meal times, books that told me to be mindful, books about my spirit, and books about my thoughts.
I also tried to learn about myself in other ways as well. I went to a life coach and then went through a program to become certified myself. I became a certified intuitive eating counselor and a certified personal trainer. I saw a counselor who dealt specifically with eating disorders. I went back to school and got a Master’s in Health Education. I continued to journal, to write, to blog, to read anything I could get my hands on that I thought would help me. Often those were stories of other women dealing with the same issues.
As the years went on, the binges diminished. I no longer fit the criteria for full-fledged BED, but I was still on the disordered eating spectrum. A series of events in 2013 finally helped me move on and away from it forever.
At the beginning of that year, I vowed to give up weighing myself and give up all dieting and restricting of food. I knew my preoccupation with my weight and body were what kept my bingeing behaviors alive. A short time later, I became seriously ill from taking antibiotics that did not agree with my liver. I ended up with what’s known as cholestatic drug-induced liver disease, turned yellow, lost my appetite (ironically causing me to lose weight), was exhausted, was itchy all over, and had to go to the doctor ever week or two for lab tests and checkups. (Even more irony: I was being weighed almost every week now.) Luckily, after a few months I made a full recovery, but that experience showed me that life was for living, not obsessing about my body.