How I’m Tackling Binge Eating

*I am not a doctor. None of this is medical advice. Just some things I’ve discovered over the years about my own binge eating, and the things I am using to successfully combat it for about a month now. Also, this turned into a wall of text.

  1. I started as a teenager. My parents were divorced and my mom was at work all day. When I was 13-14, my older sister would leave the house all day to work her summer job or hang with friends, which left me home by myself in a new neighborhood we’d just moved to. Instead of go out by myself and look for other neighborhood kids, I stayed at home, played video games, and ate. And after having my mom yell at me once or twice for eating all of something that I didn’t need to eat, I started just sneaking a bite or two of literally everything, so no one would notice. Eating alone in secret is a prominent symptom of BED.
  2. It destroyed my confidence, and thus my ability to follow through on pretty much anything. Because you do it in secret, it becomes something shameful. I beat myself up over it for years. I’d start eating healthily, be doing great for a week or so, and then I’d have a binge, and instead of getting right back on the wagon, I let it reinforce the negative self-image I had. My thought process: “Not only am I fat, but I can’t stick to a diet for more than a week. Just like I can’t make myself go to class/work/hobby practice/hang out with my friends tonight. I have no self-control. I can’t finish anything I put my mind to. Why even try?” ::proceeds to skip class/work/hobby practice/hanging out with friends to stay home and binge::
  3. 95% of the time, it happened late at night when I’m alone at home. Sure I had big meals at other times; but a true binge, where I zoned out, didn’t even realize what I was doing until I was sick to my stomach, and loathed myself the whole day afterward, almost always happened after about 10 PM, sometimes not until 12 or 1.
  4. Binge eating is not the whole problem. It often is just a super unhealthy coping mechanism for something emotional, like loneliness or depression. I know, for me, both of these things are an issue.
  5. It’s more prominent than you think it is. Since binge eating is something we do almost exclusively in private, it can seem like we are these lone fuck-ups who just lack some basic thing that everyone else has–some mystical trait like “will power” or “stick-to-it-iveness.” However, do a Google search, or a search of your favorite weight loss/fitness forum for “binge.” Your mind will be blown by how many other people are dealing with this very new, very first-world problem.

I’m about 3 weeks in to my efforts to get control of my life and finally lose all this extra fat, and I’ve never felt anywhere near this in-control, this on top of things, this confident. These are the things that are different this time that are helping me manage my efforts:

  • I addressed my mind and emotions first. I asked myself a lot of questions about why my past weight loss efforts hadn’t worked, and it could pretty much all be tied back to binge eating. Since binge eating is a way to cope with my depression and loneliness, I’ve made sure to be around other people as much as possible. I have been spending far more time with friends and family than I usually would. I partnered with my best buddy, who does not have a weight issue at all but has fallen off his fitness regime for a couple years since becoming a daddy, to be each other’s accountability partners. Everyday, we send each other our completed food logs and exercise logs to make sure we are staying on track with our goals. If I’m not doing it in secret, I’m pretty much not doing it at all.
  • Record everything. Since binge eating was a secretive shame for me, I am making sure to log literally everything I eat–even if I mess up and have the binge of a lifetime, there will be a record of every single calorie I eat. That’s the one core promise I made to myself.
  • Stay busy. I start to feel lonely or depressed when I am home, by myself, wasting time on the internet or watching Netflix. So I stopped doing those things. I cancelled my Netflix subscription. I promised myself I’d post or comment once per day on /r/loseit so that I could at least use reddit for something semi-productive as opposed to endlessly browsing memes. I committed to a career change, so I am working everyday on an IT certification to get my first job in the field–but I only study at the public library, so I’m not ever alone for long. I also signed up for a Warrior Dash, so I am training for that.
  • Go to bed earlier. I began waking up at 5 AM everyday to work out, write, or just do something productive or interesting. In order to get a decent amount of sleep, I’ve been getting in bed by 10 every night. Since my binge eating always happened really late, I find I’m just not awake during my problem hours.
  • I’m using CICO, and doing it gradually. The first week, all I did was log–no restrictions on what I ate or how much, just logged everything. The second week, I logged and ate at maintenance each day. This week I am eating at a 250 cal. deficit (1/2 lb per week), and I’ll probably stay at this level for a couple more weeks just to ease into it. Then I’ll go to 500/day, where I’ll stay for a few weeks. Then on from there. In the past, I’ve jumped right into 2 lbs./week (1000 cal/day deficit) and failed miserably after a week, at most.

Just some thoughts. Hope this helps someone. Feel free to add/dispute/discuss.

Author: davidjdotson

Blogger, board game geek, tactical urbanist in training, listener of Dragonforce, Lil Wayne, and Blink182 all in succession, slow-but-happy runner, taco destroyer.

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