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A secret binge eater

(280 Posts)
hurried Thu 12-Sep-13 18:17:25

I am seeking, rather than offering advice. I have to be honest, if I could I would eat all day, and I will often have large amounts of carbs in one sitting. I put my toddler in the car today to drive myself us to a local shop to buy carbs- I have nothing against carbs, I haven't been trying to avoid them, I just started on my child's breakfast biscuits this morning and went into a frenzy, finishing off the whole pack. I was stuffing them as soon as I brought them. I looked in the mirror and saw my child watching me. I felt so ashamed and thought I would be so embarrassed if anyone saw me.

Today was a terrible day. My son has had chicken pox and both been in all week and suddenly it got to me. I can't talk to my GP about this, and I don't have friends that wouldn't judge me for this. So I am seeking support here x

MillyRules Thu 24-Oct-13 12:31:01

Just googled Jessie Molly mmmmm he is rather a dish isn't he. Sniffing him would definitely stop one eating I would imagine. Lol...

WillieWaggledagger Thu 24-Oct-13 13:22:07

millyrules that is a great point about what you 'allow' your partner to see - i have to get away from trying to be the 'perfect' gf because it actually means suppressing many of my own needs

heirtotheironthrone thanks - so it didn't work for you, and that's fine - you haven't failed, it's just not what you needed at the time.

Sleepwhenidie Fri 25-Oct-13 11:19:27

Hi everyone, how are things going? You ok Hurried?

Having also googled Jessie - crikey shock - I am still pondering how I can convince DH that I need to get on that course grin

HeirToTheIronThrone Fri 25-Oct-13 12:14:20

Well my small victory is that I went to Pizza Express with DH last night and stopped eating after half my pizza - pretty amazing for me! We did have dessert after, but I walked home just pleasantly full rather than stuffed. And now I have leftovers for lunch, which I will eat mindfully...

MillyRules Fri 25-Oct-13 18:49:37

Well done Heir smile

MillyRules Thu 31-Oct-13 13:25:09

Hi you all doing grin

hurried Sat 02-Nov-13 09:57:22

Hello everyone,

I am sorry I haven't written back sooner. I don't get much time by myself, and I either have a little one trying to type with me (that gets interesting!) or I have others in the house, and I feel your posts are private to me, partly because I am ashamed of binge eating but also because people have such strong opinions about what I should and should be doing at home and I would rather read non bias views.

It's been so eye opening and encouraging that people have admitted to feeling the same way, or just offering their support.

Rules you asked how I am doing. Has the bingeing stopped, No. Has it got better, yes. Am I learning more about myself, yes. Do I think I know everything about myself and the solution, most definitely not, but there is progress and emotionally I feel more comfortable with myself that I'm not alone, and that I haven't been judged by people on here.

What has worked...
Triggers for binge - reflection

Sleep suggested I ask myself, what is triggering my overeating and I discovered I have different types of triggers for overeating...

Food composition and overeating triggers

1. Emotional and hormal cravings and food composition, i.e. a carb craving
I agree with MillyRules that completely banning something leads to cravings. However, I have noticed when I am down, or hormonal or upset I get a huge craving for certain carbs, when I am feeling happy I don't even think about these foods and I don'y "actively avoid them"... I can be around cereal, biscuits, bread etc and not batter an eyelid, but when I am on a downer I reach for them and I only want them in large quantity. the craving is intense, I'm impulsive and frantic. This is my most destructive type of binge. At the beginning, I can actively say this will make my stomach painful, or I convince myself I will have a little bit... this type of binge is never from hunger.

I find if I'm really tired or ill the above is awful.

What I can do to overcome this... Do something else, make sure I am not in a position to hide. This might not be ideal, but I think I do hide behind food. I think because food is there and easy and accessible, I grab it and then feel so ill I can't do anything much for the rest of the day. It intensifies my lizard brain...

What works to overcome this:
Recently, I thought about doing a out door swim, I started to feel very excited about it, (I was probably being faddy) but I planned it for summer next year. The odd thing about this was, with this as my goal in my mind, I naturally moderated my diet, I chose healthy foods that I thought would nourish me as much as possible so that I would feel good. There may have been the odd slice of cake involved but I wasn't that interested, I wanted healthy nourishing food and when I felt tired, my impulse was to reach for cereal and bread but I thought it would affect my training. Erm, I did this for about 4 days (a long time for me!). I am slightly faddy, this fell through when I got ill and little one was up all night (what is it with these bugs!) and then my swimming coach cancelled my lesson and I kind of gave up. I still plan to do this though. It's a temporary lapse though.

What also helps is short term goals i.e., a tai chi class, or a swimming lesson, I can't physically overeat prior to them as I would probably be sick and going to them quite often "snaps" me out of that lethargy just grab food way of thinking. My lizard brain as one of the experts refers to it.

For general cravings prior to a binge

I find as soon as I open that packet of cereal, if it enters my mind to just go for a binge, I kid myself I just want a bowl of cereal or a couple of slices of toast (I always provide 100 excuses to myself... I need the carbs, I need the vitamins, a little will help me, I shouldn't ban foods) but if I am not hungry, I have to be honest, it's just an excuse for a binge (I like the high it gives me and that calming feeling, despite knowing I have to keep going to keep it up, and then I feel sick and tired).
To combat this:
Forgive me, someone advised I read advice by someone whose name has now gone (was it Jane?- any way I'll look it up later) also putting off a binge helps. So thinking ok, I'll have that, but not until later. I also found, this won't apply to everyone, I don't binge much in the evening, so saying to myself, ok I will eat whatever I want at 7.30 pm (I think I am unusual in comparison to some other bingers so this wouldn't work for all, but I tend not to have carb cravings in the evening, my mood generally improves) 't restrictions, no quantity limitation.. and by the evening I don't feel like it, or at least I am slightly more mindful.

For me at this point in time it doesn't work to have binge foods easily accessible, because I'm impulsive. I haven't found this negatively affects my child, in fact, at the moment, he seems to be eating more of his savoury meals. I'm not banning him from anything, and if we have been out I will buy him a biscuit a cake whatever alongside his sandwich. I keep ice cream in the freezer (not a binge food for me, unless I'm very down) and he has one for dessert each night. I can honestly say, and I'm not trying to justify this, but his diet has improved!
My husband thinks I am nuts but I put cereals etc in his car at night, I take at one portion of dark chocolate for my son and I (literally a few squares) for the next day and a little cereal for my son. It's one portion. As I said my husband thinks I am nuts (probably correctly, and he is kindly telling everyone what I have been doing) an this has made me so much happier There is one portion an that's it, and when I am in that crackers carb craving mode, one portion isn't enough and it's for my son, or I have made up one sandwich for each of us the night before, I don't have access to a whole loaf of bread during the day. This has helped tremendously. Obviously I can still buy stuff, but I have to get in the car and go out and get it, and by that time, I've faced whatever emotion I was feeling and combating that.

2. My second trigger, is gluttony.
I haven't labelled any foods as banned as such, we have had my mother in law staying for a few days and I have had other mother's round. I have had lots of cakes and haven't limited them. I have noticed, for me, I have some and want more. I'm not beating myself up about this or even analysing it too much, it's as I suspected, I don't feel full or satisfied with cake, I just want more. I go into the kitchen and find myself picking when I see them there. I know if cakes were there all the time, I would eat them. They taste nice, they give a sugar rush. This of course could led to binge eating, but I think this is more, what lots of people have, a mindless eating of something sweet. My husband said to me "please don't keep so many biscuits and cakes in the house I'll be the size of a bus" tho sis the man who always likes bread, a little cake in the house usually. I like food, and sugar stuff provides no satisfaction for me, it just something that provides an annoying craving, and almost obsession i.e., I think this is yum I want more, or I find myself cutting a little slither off!
I don't feel so bad about this as it isn't as intense as the craving above, i.e. if I chuck the cake away or don't have any then I'm not bothered by it. It's not to stifle an emotion does that make sense? however, if cake was around when I was feeling an intense craving I would eat it all no doubt it could easily be a binge food.

3. Hunger - not a bad feeling to feel
This is interesting, I had a day where by I didn't have breakfast. I just had a square of dark chic and that was it. By lunchtime I felt true hunger and I wanted a massive dinner. However, if I have access to vegetables I will eat these. I like feeling true hunger, it makes me appreciate what I'm eating, and I know that it's a real need. It's almost been really helpful to feel what hunger feels like!!! I have to be careful, I appreciate starving oneself isn't ideal and of course, by the time I'm ravenous I fill up my plate sky high- but I don't mind that, especially if it's loads of veg etc.

4. Boredom
I haven't got anything else to do, or if I am not looking forward to the day, I think of food, what I will have for breakfast, lunch etc and then it's fatal as the more I think about it, the more I want and I spend the whole day picking and eating when not even hungry.

Another poster, Hope4best(?) really highlighted something that resonates with me, and I think Sleep identified this, I think what will really work is nothing to do with food, it's finding something to replace the bingeing. When I thought about that swim, I felt different, I know it's dramatic, but I felt self respect and I wanted food for nourishment and to be honest, I didn't think about food that much, only as a fuel. It's not helpful for me to want to be super perfect, or skinny, or beautiful.. but to want to be my best is helpful. Distraction, is really helpful. For me, Sleep is right I think, a "holistic" approach is best. Fighting the urge to binge isn't helpful but just doing something else. I think I get a slight low mood which doesn't help, and exercise does.

Having something to look forward to helps too.

I am still struggling with my self esteem, I often look in the mirror and see these tired eyes and saggy jowls and my heart sinks.. but I have realised I give up easily, and my husband says I do this with lots of thing, he says I provide myself with a get out option, when things get tough. this is something I need to work on. However, when I went back to work, I found this tough as my self esteem was so low, that I turned to food even more when I wasn't at work. So self esteem is something I really need to improve. I'm not confident, like most women I know!

My advice to others at the moment would be to look to your triggers, as Sleep advised me to do. For me, this might not be perfect, the biggest thing is to just do something else, something that gives you confidence. Take away the binge foods so you face your feelings and learn when to eat when hungry. This is easier said than done. Another interest I enjoy is cooking!! I found sleep's suggestion of planning a great meal and then putting it together (doesn't matter if you snack on the ingredients, if it's full of veg and protein, I found as I don't go into a frenzy) is unite fulfilling.

Is all this easy on a day when I have had lack of sleep, everyone around me seems grumpy, I've received criticism about something, or I feel ill, or I'm worried about my LO and he is in a bad mood, it's really tough, but I think I'm learning and getting a little better. Being prepared for days like these helps.

I'm far from recovered and expect it after having a few successful days without bingeing and then thinking way hey I'm cured, then getting ill and reaching for all the binge foods I hadn't even thought about when I was happy/calm.

It's working for me to not have easy access to sugary stuff. I think I probably have eaten about nearly three cakes (carrot cake icing is a little too nice!!) in the last three days, but as I said, for me, if it's there, something very sugary I'll eat it, so I'll expect that, for me that's not always the same as a binge, does that make sense? even though I'll eat a whole cake during the course of a day, I guess what I'm saying is the sugar is pretty addictive, but it's not stifling emotions.

I went to a friend's mother's funeral and they served many, many cakes and many salads, the latter savoury and fruit. My friend's dad commented at the end that the fruit and salad was left untouched... my friend pointed out "who is going to eat salad when theory are miserable and there is cake instead?" she's not a binge eater and I don't think everyone at that funeral was either...

I'm not saying I know the answer. Did anyone read the DM study on carbs making people depressed, I don't think that's accurate, I think SOME people reach for carbs for their dopamine hit, I do, as you all now know and are probably sick of hearing about it but that is my drug of choice when down or ill. Yet when my sister isa stressed she doesn't eat at all. We are just different I guess. My random ramblings....

Any way, good luck to you all. My thoughts are with all you who are trying to combat this. It isn't pleasant... but I think there is hope.. xx

hurried Sat 02-Nov-13 10:07:38

Apologies for the grammar above, I wish we could edit posts, once posted... for me, I have to read through it all to see the mistakes. I'm hoping you can make some sort of sense of it!!

MillyRules Sat 02-Nov-13 11:21:35

Hi.....It was interesting to read your post. The book I recommended was " Overcoming Overeating" by Jane Hirschman...not sure of my spelling though smile . Most women arent all that confident, we just pretend and act like we are. Well I do anyway. Fake it till you make it and all that. Carbs can make me feel low if I have toooo many as I crash but if I don't have them then I can also feel emotionally unstable which is why I eat them as part of my food choices. I havnt binged for years and am totally at ease with having all and any food in my house. I hope one day you can get to this stage.
At the moment tour bingeing is helping you cope with things in your life. It is your crutch and until your ready to let it go, it is helping you to deal with your life. smile

Sleepwhenidie Sat 02-Nov-13 16:47:08

Hey Hurried thanks for your post, so interesting. Reading through, the thought that occurred to me was to remind you of what Milly actually just said, the bingeing is your crutch, your learnt way of dealing with emotions. That doesn't make it wrong, it's just one method, ideally you can gradually (don't rush!) learn other methods that aren't damaging to your health and self esteem and don't leave you feeling ill. So not having a knee jerk reaction to fight against the urge is, as you say, a good thing. The more you accept the bingeing as a technique you use, so try to live with it and understand it more, making you able to pause and think...why am I getting this urge now...could I do something else to help deal with how I am feeling right now? Can I wait until later? The less frequent or insistent that urge will hopefully become. There will still be occasions when you go ahead and binge anyway and that is ok, it's all a learning process smile. You definitely sound like you are getting into this way of thinking, which is great smile.

hurried is your husband helping you? How much have you explained to him? Is he being supportive and understanding? Does he help improve your self esteem? If not then do you think he would if you asked him?

Don't give up on that swim, it sounds like a great plan!

northlondontherapist29 Sat 02-Nov-13 19:08:40

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

MillyRules Sat 02-Nov-13 20:49:43

NorthLondon.... the info you give is the same as Paul McKenna and most Mindful Eating books.

MillyRules Sat 02-Nov-13 21:01:46

North ....had a look around your website.Looks really interesting. Its great that you have overcome your own disordered eating patterns. I would imagine this gives you great insite when helping people smile

MillyRules Sat 02-Nov-13 21:02:33


MillyRules Sun 03-Nov-13 17:59:35

North if someone doesn't make their binge foods part of their normal foods how can they see those binge foods as "just food" if they are only eaten in secret and overeaten in secret. Surely to normalise them by regularly buying them and having them always available is the best way to eventually lose the stigma these binge foods have.

hurried Sun 03-Nov-13 18:03:29

Hi millyrules,
I don't not eat binge foods, and will eat them out or when in the company of others, but not in secret or I don't give myself access to them in huge amounts. That seems to be working for me but I understand it's not ideal for everyone.

hurried Sun 03-Nov-13 18:10:14

I think perhaps you are all in a much better place than me with your relationship with food. Until I can work out ways to deal with my emotional eating ie, finding a way of facing my emotions and finding another way to deal with them, I can't have binge foods in vast quantities as I will just keep doing the same thing I have done for years. I am weak, I hide behind food everytime I give Myself that option, it's an easy one and a habit. At this stage it's the only thing that I feel will work for me. I do totally agree that restriction or banning can lead to obsessive thoughts and bingeing but as I explained above, my reasoning is logical for me. I've tried to not care an surround myself with whatever foods (and have done for years) but food has been my drug of choice and for my sanity I can't keep doing the same thing. I feel more comfortable doing it this way xx

MillyRules Sun 03-Nov-13 19:30:38

Hurried I totally respect and understand that you have to do it the way that suits you and to understand how you tick. I was curious to get Norths take on it as she has said she is a therapist.grin

HeirToTheIronThrone Tue 05-Nov-13 09:09:19

I just wanted to pop in and tell you that partly inspired by you, and partly by my lovely DH, I had my first chat with a therapist yesterday. And it was fine! Already feel lighter in a funny way, though much of what we talked about was not about food but all sorts of things to do with my past and my family. So, thanks to you all.

hurried Tue 05-Nov-13 10:11:25

Well done Heir, that's great news and a huge step. Please keep us posted xx

Sleepwhenidie Tue 05-Nov-13 12:54:50

Fantastic news Heir, well done. Yes please keep us posted! xx

northlondontherapist29 Wed 06-Nov-13 20:10:20

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

MillyRules Wed 06-Nov-13 23:44:33

Why has NorthLondonTherapist posted again. Ahhh....I see.....her last post was removed by Mumsnet.

hurried Fri 15-Nov-13 09:21:21

Hi all,

I just wanted to sign and say since posting on this board things have got better. I'm far from cured but it's not every day any more.

Did anyone watch that programme on tv about people who got thin then regained all their weight ... and more! I noticed some of those women got very slim, so they were exceptionally good at dieting... and bingeing they weren't good at moderation... that was their downfall. I guess this supports the argument that diets don't work.

Obviously the causes of over eating is a very personal thing, but I do notice the more I binge, the more I want to binge.... does that make sense? So if i decide I'll allow myself to eat whatever I want, I continue to eat all day, I'm don't feel hunger, it's cravings none of it is "intuitive" eating...

For me, I had a bad day yesterday and I think mine is much more an emotional thing and a huge mistake I made was to get to the gym and think I feel down I'll go to a cafe instead lol... I ended up bingeing all day and not facing the problems, had I just forced myself to just walk on the treadmill I would have felt much better. However, today is a new day but I have a day with my son and intend to make the most if every second of it... so despite feeling very saggy in a swimsuit (I am not fat just pregnancy was not kind) I am going to take him out ... there will be mealtimes of course but I'll just get on with those when they arrive and a hungry,

I have definitely noticed after binges, I am MORE hungry, the more I eat, the more I want (another telling sign it's not true hunger) I have really found then choosing lower carb options helps to alleviate that drop in blood glucose craving. Last night, after a day of bingeing I had curry... a beautiful Malaysian curry and I had it with..salad, and I had a chocolate dessert, but the cravings then stopped. I enjoyed the meal. Now I move on.

I have brought a butternut squash, lentils, carrots, sweet potato, carrot and I intend on making a massive batch of yummy curry soup.... that my son can eat too.

I hope you are all well I think of all you other binge eaters and all those who have gone out of their way to offer advice. I feel like I am slowly getting my life back.. even with the odd binge day.

I think for me, being mindful of what caused it helps so I can prevent it in the future. If I rely on my emotions in the moment to dictate my actions I think I would spend a lot more time just eating- food is a quick answer at the time. Days I haven't binged, I haven't allowed myself the opportunity.

lljkk Fri 15-Nov-13 09:42:48

It sounds like you've made terrific progress, Hurried.

Most people with eating disorders think they are doing it in secret.

Some get fat so it seems obvious there might be a problem. many don't.

Anorexics & Bulemics think themselves ever so clever to be so secret but they can be extremely obvious too.

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