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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

Rebelrebel Mon 16-Sep-13 10:38:16

Hi hurried, just wanted to say that it's totally ok to be confused, because there isn't one clear way forward - you are describing addiction, and there isn't a consensus on how to treat it. You will need to do a Bit of searching to find the right technique for you. Personally, I think Brain over Binge by Kathryn Hansen ( she also has a blog) explains the reasons people binge really clearly and her story is very interesting. Others will go down the Overeaters Anonymous route. Hope you find something that clicks for you xx

Sleepwhenidie Mon 16-Sep-13 15:17:56

Hurried I'll say again that I'm not an expert but I think you have two issues going on, first the depression, then the bingeing. It seems highly likely that the former is triggering or at least exacerbating the latter. So it makes sense to me to try and tackle one thing at a time.

Give the medication 2-4 weeks to take effect. During this time, cultivate an exercise habit and as much as possible, as Williewaggler says, use displacement activities if you start feeling like bingeing. I would avoid bringing your classic binge foods into the house as much as you can, however don't classify them as 'banned' or 'bad' either. Give yourself a break from any kind of dieting, try to concentrate on what you feel your body needs, what would nourish it best, and eat that - be kind to yourself. If you binge, then don't punish yourself, just move on. Read all the books that have been recommended here and consider which resonates most for you/which you feel might help - then approach the bingeing using whatever method you choose?

You say you are a foodie, perhaps challenge yourself to try and create meals that are as delicious and nutritious as they can be - for me that would mean great quality protein, organic veg (see how many you can include in one meal), lovely cheese (I'm thinking maybe aubergine parmigiana with gooey mozzarella and parmesan - yum) or sauces but little or no starchy (particularly processed) carbs - but if you fancy a huge baked potato or bowl of pasta for lunch or dinner one day, have it! The world will not fall apart smile.

hurried Wed 18-Sep-13 17:27:00

I will definitely read all the books mentioned and give you all feedback. I'm really touched, I have had a lifetime of struggling with this and never spoken to anyone in depth about it. I came back to reading all your posts again today as I slightly fell off the wagon this morning but I think I had not organised a busy morning, and my husband brought a loaf of fresh seeded bread home, I am very stupid, I had the "just a few slices, no food is banned... and just carried on. My LO was up int he night a few times and I don't think helped the resolve.

I think the food idea of getting into making low carb meals sounds great and I love cheese but don't usually eat it.

I think the teeny tiny steps idea also is great. As the bigger picture terrifies me.

I will read the brain over binge book!

HerdyHerdwick Thu 19-Sep-13 15:43:06

Hello Hurried. Your posts resonate with me too.
I should say I've not found my way through this yet, but the Fairburn book and Brain Over Binge are both brilliant. Fairburn takes you through a 6 (?) step programme, and I don't remember him saying to have the stuff in the house. In fact he says 'limit your stock of dangerous foods', certainly in the early days of working through his self-help programme.

I've also read another book called Overcoming Overeating, by Jane Hirschmann which advised to stock up on the tempting stuff. Well I stocked up and went into the biggest binges of my life.
I also didn't find the Beyond Chocolate book by Audrey and Sophie Boss helpful at all. I did their e-course several years ago and just gained more weight. Oh I did find their advice to 'Be Your Own Guru' helpful, it helped me move away from Beyond Chocolate. To be fair to the authors, Intuitive Eating just did not work for me, and that's what their book is based on.

Anyway the Fairburn book is called 'overcoming binge eating' not to be confused with the other. He's a Professor of Psychiatry at Oxford and one of the world's leading experts in eating disorders.
The problem that I've had trying to follow his programme is that it's quite slow and I get impatient and just want to be slim and stop binge eating NOW. It doesn't work like that.

As someone else pointed out, there are different views on this problem. And we each have to find what works for us. Some say it's caused by eating specific types of food, some say it's caused by restriction, some say that Overeaters Anonymous addiction model is the way to go. I think it's an addiction but I far prefer the Kathryn Hansen approach to it in Brain Over Binge.

Anyway, I've written an essay, sorry! Read all you can, try different things, find what works for you, and keep posting here. I've marked my place on the thread so I'll be interested to keep up with your progress.

hurried Thu 19-Sep-13 18:14:36


Thank you for your response. I'm so overwhelmed that people take the time out to respond with such thought, and compassion!

I'm sorry to hear you suffer from this too. I am like you, impatient (maybe that's part of it!), I do know, that don't binge on foods that I necessarily think are bad, I maybe do label some foods bad i.e., cupcakes, which I probably shouldn't, but these aren't necessarily the foods I binge on - btw, if I had a load of cupcakes in the house, I'm sure I wouldn't be able to resist! As I said, it's been things like bread, oatcakes, cereals, not burgers and chips, but of course, it can be very high sugar foods like biscuits, cakes too. I'm not too picky!!!

I tried to put my higher brain into action this morning, I thought I would take a Previous poster's advice and distract myself by going for a walk. I did, but stopped for breakfast and ended up snacking all day. Interesting you found keeping "binge foods" in the house didn't work. It's quite hard to do with a LO. I think thing's like restriction make it worse for me, but certainly aren't the cause, as I can overeat for days, and not following restriction. In fact, the worst thing I can do is to not be mindful, I would just keep going. To be honest, food cheers me up. As I eat it, I'm not thinking I'm forcing this down, I feel slightly euphoric and there is the urge to keep going, despite tummy pains etc. It is absolute gluttony. Maybe I need to strengthen my mind. I feel pretty weak, but like OP's have highlighted, I think I have low mood too and it's hard to know if this is a cause... I tried to just chill out around food, and it doesn't work, like what happened to you, I just binge more than ever. Maybe it's just the stage I'm at. I will certainly make a list of all books and read them with an open mind.

Thanks again for all replies. It's been a a great support.x

hurried Thu 19-Sep-13 18:25:42

PS I think Kathryn Hansen's idea of not binge eating NOW resonates with me, I think thinking of it as something I can do later maybe helpful. I guess this also focuses on small steps as Williwagledagger suggested, thinking I won't do it for the next few hours. Putting it off. The thing I find hard is that compulsive urge at the time... especially when feeling low and tired, any way, lots if homework to do

HerdyHerdwick Thu 19-Sep-13 18:33:28

Since reading Brain Over Binge, nearly two years ago now, I've noticed a difference. I do still binge though, but the amounts are considerably less than before. Not sure about frequency.

It's not easy engaging the higher brain over the 'lizard' brain. I call that part 'Sybil' wink. And sometimes I find myself saying 'I know that I don't have to binge or give in to the urge, but I WANT to anyway'.
But as I said, I have noticed an improvement, and hopefully you will find it helpful longer term too.

I don't binge on complex carbs, only ever high sugar/fat foods, so it's easier for me to just keep them out of the house. It must be difficult when it's 'healthy' food that you binge on and so you can't help but have it in the house.

Let us know how you get on with your reading.

Sleepwhenidie Sun 22-Sep-13 09:31:34

How are you doing Hurried? Just checking to wave hello smile

hurried Mon 23-Sep-13 08:56:21

Hi Sleepwhenidie! (and everyone else who has kindly posted on this link).

I had the best weekend for ages. I don't know if it is because my husband gave me lots of "me" time (thank goodness for sport on the TV!), I went to a yoga/Tai Chi class at the gym and really enjoyed it, and went for a coffee by myself afterwards. I am still overeating (i.e. I am having, I estimate 3000 calories a day but I'm going to tackle this later, and I think the way I'll do that is to focus on low carb). My frame of mind feels different but I'm not sure if this is temporary. I had a low day Friday and BE, but my son was up all night, the night before. I am starting to identify triggers, and certainly tiredness is a huge one- HerdyHerdwick, my lizard brain takes over when I'm tired. I know I haven't "recovered" in two days (!) and brought two walnut rolls yesterday and ate them as soon as I got in, despite telling myself I would save them for soup the next day! So I still have a long way to go, but I just thought, oh well it's only food. I have also been focusing on time with my son and I this weekend I didn't have that frantic low feeling, searching for food. I was also surrounded by kid's stuff, nutella (gulp), white bread, tortillas, cakes- not easy stuff to be around, especially as I was preparing it for children. However, it helped knowing I was going out.

I don't know if the antidepressants are kicking in. I am adding more protein to the diet too. As I said I probably am eating too much, and this will obviously lead to a little weight gain but it is an improvement on that out of control, sick from already having eaten yet carrying on in desperate mission to search for any more carbs thing- that didn't happen this weekend.

So far what has helped:

1. Antidepressants?
2. Having time to myself, despite feeling very guilty (leaving my husband at home with lots of children by himself!!)
3. Getting out of the house - planning something to do, ie, I had the exercise class, I couldn't have a massive breakfast prior to it, or I would have felt sick. I also planned an afternoon coffee and said to myself I could have a high protein chocolate bar then, it didn't happen but having an afternoon treat planned, helped.
4. Postponing the binge, I.e, I 'll eat it later (I have to say, when I have been really down I very much doubt I could do this, I had days of feeling so low and tired I would do anything to help me function, I would wake up and think I couldn't face the day - ironically, BE doesn't help me function but the craving for carbs, when feeling down is overwhelming- so maybe the antidepressants are helping with this one)
5. When I did overeat this weekend, I didn't follow with the thoughts that "I have to eat everything", I just thought maybe I needed it.
6. An afternoon sleep - oh I know it's indulgent, but I felt so much better!
7. Focusing more on low carb meals (slight problem is I'm still eating the carbs, I don't wan to be too restrictive but I will definitely limit them being in the house, I hate to admit it, but if they are there, I think I keep proving to myself, I'll eat them)
8. The baby steps, I have to just last the next hour without BE- rather than I have to be like this forever.

For the first time for many years, after the exercise class I started thinking about eating healthily and looking after myself (food usually has no other function than to lift my mood and energy!). I am not fooled into thinking this is how it will be for the long term, I may not even last until this afternoon without BE, but it seemed exciting to think I may start to look after myself and look nice. However, I am aware I have to be careful with this way of thinking too- does that make sense.

What doesn't help
1. Lack of sleep
2. Low mood - obviously
3. Having food there- I was in a good mood yesterday, but when I got home and made my son supper (and the other children) I reached for the bread rolls ate them, and finished of my son's food! So I am impulsive, when it's there in front of me, I can't rely on my willpower.
4. Stress of any sort
5. 3pm - the witching hour, I get a predictable slump at this time and terrible cravings.

I think learning to cope with number 4 will be a huge challenge. I'm quite a sensitive person, I don't know if that's been exasperated by low moods, but I have obviously had an "easy weekend". I haven't been perfect, but I haven't driven myself off, or interrupted daily life, on a manic mission to find binge foods.

I am also in the realisation, that I'm in a good mood at the moment. Life will bring up lots of challenges and I'm under no illusions. I haven't got it sussed yet - I'm not sure I ever will, but it felt like I was living a little this weekend.

I really have felt less alone with your posts. I don't know anyone close to me who is a BE. I can't really tell if antidepressants are helping, my doctor also put me on cerazette as she said she felt that my hormones were hugely affecting things. I think my appetite may have increased slightly, but it's not a mad out of control feeling.

I haven't read all the books yet, a few snippets of a few.

Thank you all x

hurried Mon 23-Sep-13 08:59:50

PS aubergine parmigiana for supper tonight!

SPBisResisting Mon 23-Sep-13 09:11:55

Getting on this thread and will post properly later. My bingeing seems very different in that I only binhe on stuff I like and enjoy - the temptation thing - but it is also definitely linked to mood and tiredness - but obviously a vicious cycle as there's nothing more likely to depress me than the morning after a binge day.
Your last post sounds really positive. Let this be thr beginning of the end of your bingeing!

Sleepwhenidie Mon 23-Sep-13 09:33:43

Hurried that all sounds fantastic, well done!

I really think that lack of sleep is an absolute killer, it has been proven that it increases appetite and inclination for sweet and stodgy food, so you are far from alone with that. I think it's great that you are getting some time to yourself - do not feel guilty - everyone in your family benefits from you being happier and healthier! Also that you are looking at food (at least some of the time) as something that can nourish and help your body and mind. And recognising triggers is great progress. All small steps that are positive!

Re the 3pm slump, maybe that is when you should have a planned snack - prepare or plan a choice of two - one sweet/whatever you feel you are craving (though I would still try and include a bit of protein with it) and one healthier one. When you hit that wall, make your choice and don't feel guilty if it's the first. Sometimes a piece of cake or chocolate can lift and comfort you a bit, what you want to avoid is 2 or 3 pieces if cake, that out of control feeling and true overeating.

Keep going, so pleased for you about the weekend smile.

hurried Wed 25-Sep-13 12:07:31

A Lapse. I had been following a bit of a plan and being doing really well, I even had some packets of chocolate biscuits and peanut butter here that I hadn't been noticing. Last night my LO was up until 2am and we got up at 6am. I just felt tired and awful this am. I lapsed. I knew this would happen and it's my responsibility I just let myself off the hook at the time. If it's there, and I'm in the house at some point my resolve weakens. I try to think it's only food but there will be consequences ie huge health problems if I keep doing this. I had been so much better though- I thought AD maybe helping. I haven't been banning any foods and I have found eating regularly had worked, I had also noticed just getting up and out of the house straight after breakfast helps.

Feel a bit ruined at the moment though, it's madness, and so contradictory, it makes me so unhappy in the longterm. I try not to feel too guilty but it is a lot of calories in one sitting, I try not to think about calories and I certainly haven't been inadvertently going under what I need to promote a binge. I can't have anything in the house.

hurried Wed 25-Sep-13 12:17:23

Apologies for the rather hurried post above, I live my nickname, obviously, I have a LO how likes to delete my posts for me :-)

Sleepwhenidie Wed 25-Sep-13 12:20:40

hurried, it's ok! you had a rough night and unsurprisingly felt low and tired this morning. Forget it and move on, focus on how well you did for almost a week, that's fantastic and now you know you can do it again.

It's going to be a long process, changing your relationship with food, don't put huge pressure on yourself to change overnight. Would it help to think of yourself as a baby learning to walk? When they stumble and fall you don't get cross with them and tell them to give up trying do you? Be the same way with yourself, kind, patient and encouraging progress smile.

hurried Wed 25-Sep-13 12:27:50

I really should be paying you! Great advice and you make me feel positive, thank you. I feel this huge guilt though, I probably had 6000 kcal's gulp. Literally, oh well, no little black dress for me this winter but at least I have managed to focus more on living for other things this week. :-)

Sleepwhenidie Wed 25-Sep-13 12:35:16


Have you got some time to yourself and/or something nice (date with DH perhaps) planned for the weekend?

hurried Wed 25-Sep-13 12:49:05

No, I think that's hard too, the DH is really busy at work, and we have lost our babysitter- gone to university. Funnily enough, I was feeling a bit flat about the rest of the week/weekend. I think the antidepressants may have affected my mood in a positive way though, I'm starting to want to go out. I didn't feel like anything before.

You were right with your theory that lack of sleep is a killer, despite eating so much I don't even really feel stuffed, I even thought about polishing off my LO's leftovers, when I wasn't thinking!

Sleepwhenidie, and PP's, a mistake I made today was having it there, and not having another activity to keep me busy, apart from the washing which I shoved in the machine, then ignored. I still feel awful from sleep deprivation. Plan for the future; as I'm bound to have a bad night again, just don't keep in the house. Other days I have said to myself if I want something sweet I'll go out at three pm, with my LO and we will share a cake or I'll buy a chocolate protein bar (these really give a sweet hit, and I think the protein stops me wanting more). I also found planning a little walk with LO after the afternoon snack helps. Just keeping busy really and having little food breaks to look forward to helped this was focusing on advice from PP's and I had loved the taking time cooking low carb meals, the aubergine parmigiana was divine! so those things had worked, it still feels it's all been about food but it's worked up until this point.

Sleepwhenidie Wed 25-Sep-13 12:56:57

sad. Can you grab a nap, does LO still sleep in the day? You should try too as well, or use CBeebies to babysit while you doze on the sofa for half an hour?

Maybe book a session or two in the gym crèche over the next few days?

And get on to finding a new babysitter - very important!!

Sleepwhenidie Fri 27-Sep-13 15:05:08

Big hi to ya doing?

hurried Sat 28-Sep-13 08:22:23

Hi Sleepwhenidie,

I am sure other posters will be getting bored of mine now, I was going to pm you but then I thought some may be taking a personal interest too.

I have been much better mentally, thank you. I did have a slip up whereby an entire, yes an entire pack of biscuits and peanut butter. Afterwards I always wonder "whatever possessed me". That day I also polished off all my LO's leftovers.

I'm focusing on success being not bingeing, and I have to keep reminding myself of that. Keeping busy during peak times helps, ie 11am and 3pm - I have no idea why, but these are my energy slump times.

I am trying low carb. I have really loved classes at the gym and when I'm there I feel motivation to look after myself. These aren't particularly cardio classes.

hurried Sat 28-Sep-13 08:22:44

I will post again later, the children and OH are up!

HerdyHerdwick Sat 28-Sep-13 10:26:01

I'm still reading, hurried. smile

Sleepwhenidie Sat 28-Sep-13 15:15:08

Hi Hurried - (and Herdy) - I wouldn't worry about other people being bored, they can hide the thread if they want to smile.

Glad to hear you are feeling better. If you want me to have a look at your typical day or two's food I'd be happy to do that in case there is anything in there that might contribute to the slump you are feeling between 11-3pm. Let me know if you are taking any supplements too.

It's great news that you are enjoying the exercise classes grin.

What led to your 'slip up' with the biscuits? Were there any obvious triggers that you spotted? How did you feel, before, during and afterwards?

hurried Sat 28-Sep-13 19:05:08

HerdyHenwick, well done with the reading. How are you?

The biscuit day... to be honest, I was at home all day and I'd had little sleep. I think it was impulsive- they were there and I thought why not, yet I hadn't even thought about them other days.

Ah well, breakfast is often a coffee with skimmed milk (a cup of skimmed milk) and I know this is awful, but a few square of 90 percent cocoa chocolate. Then maybe a small amount of porridge and an apple.

Lunch is often a wholegrain bagel with chicken and salad with a decaff coffee. I went for a Wagamama's for lunch today and felt like sleeping all afternoon! I think carbs at lunch time probably aren't the best thing to have, but they're easy as my LO eats it too and I often crave bread at lunch time.

Snack - dark choc or fruit and hot milk on a non bingey day...

Supper is usually soup, casserole, salad- fish, chicken, curry... anything goes! Low fat yogurt and berries for dessert. I usually have some carbs with the evening meal too, sweet potato, rice etc, because oddly, I don't sleep well without them in the evening.

It's strange with breakfast, I know it's not ideal, but if I force myself to have fried eggs say appetite is huge again by ten am.

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