Struggles with an Eating Disorder

mamma_miaContinued from here.

Binge eating disorder is an addiction to food. I had a difficult time accepting the label of addiction, but that’s exactly what it was. The biggest challenge was that I could not remove myself from food because I needed to eat in order to live. I had no concept of moderation, and I wasn’t eating to nourish my body – I was using food to “stuff down” my painful emotions. I was constantly in “feast” or “famine” mode, using shame to keep me in “famine” mode long enough to drop a size or two before gaining the weight back again.

Even though my eating was out of control, I lied to myself about having a problem. Back in the 1980’s, there wasn’t a name for this form of eating disorder. I didn’t starve myself or purge, so I did not recognize that I had an eating disorder, and I certainly did not view myself as “addicted” to food. I just thought I lacked willpower.

My “moment of truth” came one night in my 30’s. My husband was out of town and my baby was asleep when I felt the uncontrollable urge to binge on chocolate. The only chocolate in the house was cocoa powder, and the box included a recipe for a chocolate cake. I made a chocolate cake from scratch. As soon as the timer went off, I stuffed down the entire cake in one sitting. That was my rock bottom moment when I could no longer deny that I had a problem. I knew it wasn’t “normal” for someone to do what I had just done, but I didn’t know how to stop it.

By then, there was at least a name for my eating disorder: binge eating disorder. When I read the definition, I laughed. The article I read said that someone has binge eating disorder if she consumes a large number of calories (binges on food) at least once in a three month period. My reaction was that if I could restrict myself to bingeing only once every three months, I would consider myself cured!! Binge eating was a nightly or every-other-night struggle for me. I couldn’t imagine even going a week without bingeing on food unless I was shaming myself through self-hatred to diet.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace eating a huge plate of spaghetti and meatballs with her face covered in spaghetti and sauce under the words, “Mamma Mia!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]