It’s only recently that doctors and scientists have classified and publicly acknowledged binge eating an actual eating disorder, putting it on par with the more commonly recognized eating disorders of anorexia and bulimia.
And though not every woman who binge eats has a chronic, compulsive disorder, many still struggle with it in private, whether it be once a month or once a week.
It’s hard to say what exactly “bingeing” is; everyone seems to have a different definition (and spelling!)
Webster’s says a binge is “1 a: a drunken revel : spree b: an unrestrained and often excessive indulgence c: an act of excessive or compulsive consumption (as of food).” All of the above could apply.
The colloquial definition I’ve heard on my WW message boards seems to be an uncontrolled (yet conscious) food spree where the individual has stuffed themselves senseless and can’t stop the spiral into oblivion. Guilt usually follows, but not always. Sometimes there is deep satisfaction in doing something “so bad, so wrong.”
For others who tend to be rather disciplined in their eating, a binge could be simply overeating at a meal. Tight pants and an aching belly usually follow.
And for other people, it’s as innocuous as mindless munching in front of the TV where all of a sudden, the bag of pretzels is empty. A sheepish “Did I eat all that?” usually follows. (While mindless munching isn’t the same as bingeing to me, for others it is just as dangerous).
Regardless of your personal definition, one thing seems to be the common thread: the out-of-control component of binge eating. Either we’re out of control and don’t care and continue to eat anyway, or honestly can’t control ourselves–it’s almost an out-of-body-experience.
I define a binge as a conscious decision to not stop myself when I’m either overeating, or eating something I know I don’t need–i.e., eating beyond satisfaction.
It doesn’t matter where I’m doing it—seated at the kitchen table, or standing at the fridge. In my car, or behind my desk. My worst benders have usually been in private, where I know it’s wrong and always feel guilty afterwards.
Often emotions (happy, sad, angry, anxious to name a few) have driven me to binge. But sometimes it’s not even an emotion I can pinpoint (particularly during “midnight incidents” when I’ve been on autopilot); it just “happens.”
During my binges, I’ve never eaten a gallon of ice cream, a loaf of bread, a bag of chips, or a jar of peanut butter in one sitting. My binges tend to be nibbles of “a little of this” and “a little of that.” Sweet, salty, sweet.
My worst binge: over the course of one day, I most certainly downed an entire box of cinnamon Puffins (in 8 measured 1-cup servings, no less), which I’ve now deemed “crack.”
Cold cereals, for some reason, seem to be a trigger for me–even when measured. Put it to you this way, I’ve never met a Kashi cereal I didn’t like. And FiberOne Caramel Delights … need I say more? Hi, the name says it all! Sure, these are healthy choices, but if these cereals are not eaten moderately, all their do-good merits go out the window.
So how do I deal? I don’t buy cereals that are triggers; after throwing out boxes and boxes over the past couple of years of cereals, I finally admitted I couldn’t “handle” having at home. I learned it’s best just not to buy them. This is something Dr. Beck would equate to a “No Choice.” (“I won’t buy trigger cereals and bring them into my home”).
That said, from time to time, I still test myself and bring it home, hoping to make progress. And sometimes it even works. For example, I’ve triumphed over Kashi GoLean Crunch, which now sits prominently atop our fridge. And Kashi Vive (a probiotic, delicious cereal) has also maintained its prime position next to my husband’s (boring!) Corn Flakes.
We have a lovely courtship now, me and Kashi, and we flirt often. In fact, a couple times a week, I pour a nice cup with 8th Continent RF Vanilla Soymilk, add some fresh strawberries, and I’m in breakfast heaven!
I say that’s something worth giving myself credit for, wouldn’t you?
How about you? How do you define a binge, and what steps do you take to avoid one?