Almost everyone overeats on occasion. But for some people, excessive overeating crosses the line to binge eating disorder. Are you a binge eater? Finding it tough to cope up with your habit?
When I was actively bingeing, I was sure I was alone in my suffering. Well, I knew I wasn’t the only person on the planet who binged but I had NO earthly idea just how common it is. And because I grew up in a society that praises self-control and thinness, before I became a binge eater, the image I had of them was probably something like those people you’d see on My 600-lb life just laying around all day gorging on piles of food.
You know the image I mean, someone too lazy & big to even get up, who did nothing but lay around all stuffing themselves and were mostly a drain on society. I had little to no compassion or respect for anyone who didn’t have the self-control to just get off their ass and diet and exercise the problem away — especially so for myself. Because that’s what we always hear, isn’t it? That people live that way because they’re too lazy to “fix it”.
That’s actually horseshit. Living with and recovering from it taught me how flat out wrong (and damaging) that assumption is – though it took me a long time to get there.
Early on in my bingeing days, I was thoroughly ashamed and disgusted with myself.
Of course, I’d end up a binge eating bulimic – the grossest of all eating disorders. Why couldn’t I just be an anorexic? At least they get skinny – is what I used to think. I even befriended an anorexic, hoping her anorexia would rub off on me.
Yes, I knew how sick that was at the time – I just didn’t know how to change it.
Here’s the truth: binge eaters come in all shapes, sizes, and activity levels. Some of my worst binges and sickest days were at my most active and smallest size. I’m talking about wearing children’s clothing because I was so tiny yet inhaling thousands upon thousands of calories in sugar per day.
And the negative assumptions we have regarding binge eating is deeply damaging because it keeps people hiding in shame, avoiding talking about it or seeking treatment/recovery.
On top of that, binge eaters are the least likely to receive adequate treatment because they’re less likely to get life-threateningly thin.
How broken is a system that gives priority treatment to those who are the skinniest among a group of people who are all working equally hard to destroy their bodies because they’re so terrified of gaining weight?
Throughout my own experience and recovery, I gained a whole new level of understanding, compassion, and respect for binge eaters and bulimics. When we know better, we do better, as they say, and now I see those original judgments of mine (and of the rest of society) for what they are: wholly misguided, naive, and downright ignorant.
Binge eating has nothing to do with food or self-control and it has nothing to do with someone’s size. You cannot someone who binge eats by the size of the body they’re in.
So, what’s the difference between a binge and just overeating?
They’re both self-punishing behaviors, a binge just takes it to a whole nother level. Additionally, a binge is usually preceded with feelings of desperation to get food ASAP and a lack of the ability to control the need.
Eating is usually done with speed (the faster it goes in the better, right?!), often in hiding and you may feel completely helpless to stop eating. It’s usually way more food than just something like overeating an extra helping of dinner or having a second brownie. And a binge is followed by DEEP feelings of shame, judgment and self-hate.