There are so many different levels of binging.
For some people, someone might say they've binged on chocolate simply if they've eaten a single chocolate bar out of an emotional reason.
Others may classify a binge as munching your way through an entire share size bag of crisps or chocolate.
I've never purged, but I can understand exactly why people do. If not to rid themselves of the calories and the negative emotional feelings, just easing the pain would be enough.
Plus there are the feelings the following day. I won't have slept because of the pain and anxiety and sweats. I'll feel disgusted and ashamed, like I don't even deserve to be a human being. I'm bloated, gassy, my stomach aches, my blood sugar levels are all over the place, and I don't want to be around anyone.
To me the binge feels like a craze - I can't stop, and I'm completely numb, just grabbing any food in sight and eating it. And if I run out of the food in the house (I've even gone through the bin before) then I'll head up to the supermarket and fill up a basket or even a trolley. This picture may look extreme, but sometimes that's how I feel. I'll end up with food down my clothes, all over my hands and face, and I don't care, I just need to get the food in my body. I've even been to the supermarket to continue my binge to find food down my trousers and peanut butter on my cheek. It's so shameful to admit.
In the DSM-V criteria (the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental practitioners) binge eating is defined by "eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances, with episodes marked by feelings of lack of control." We "may eat too quickly, even when we are not hungry." We may "have feelings of guilt, embarrassment or disgust and may binge eat alone to hide the behaviour".
And what causes a binge? I imagine it's different for everyone. I believe there are two generic causes. The one that sits in the here and now, and the one that sits deep down below which causes all of our eating problems.
The ones that sit here and now for me are things such as:
- being alone in the house and having the opportunity to eat without anyone around
- feeling relieved
- returning home after an event where I thought it would be difficult not to overeat and managing to restrict myself...only then to blow it
- having something sugary or "disallowed"
- I also think just not eating enough makes our body crave food
Then the deeper ones - well I don't know what these are. These are the deep beliefs that cause us to have disordered patterns with food, and binge despite knowing how horrible it will make us feel, or how damaging it is to our bodies (I'll discuss this in a future post).
We are constantly wanting to lose weight, get thinner and thinner. And what happens? We either get to a point where we eat nothing and become skeletons, or we can't maintain that and we develop a binge-restrict cycle. Binging is a common word in our vocabulary, and that's not natural. Binging isn't natural. Restricting isn't natural. What's natural is eating when we're hungry and stopping when we're full.
And making all of this worse is the sugary, processed foods we eat. The ones that make us addicted and leave us craving more and more.
Next week I'll talk about the damage we're doing to our bodies from binging. But for now let's remember that binging can be a proper psychological issue, and that we shouldn't beat ourselves up. We need to recognise we've got a problem, and do something about it by seeking the right kind of help :)
Hope you have a wonderful day,