Oh boy, where do I even start with this? This subject is such a huge struggle in my life right now. It packs a lot of baggage with it and I want to do my best to reveal it all to you with the hopes that if binging is a little too close to you as well, this article could help.
Habits – we all have them. Some are good and some are oh so bad.
For some people, their bad habits don’t have any physical consequences. They are easy to hide, to tuck away and pretend that they don’t exist. But then there are the habits that are really easy to spot because they manifest themselves physically. These are the ones that can be a magnet attracting judgment from others. This is where my bad habit thrives – on my body, for everyone to see.
Now, let me start with a disclaimer before we get any further: I’m a plus size woman and my weight has come from a number of different factors. This goes for all people who are plus size. There are many reasons they have a certain amount of body weight, including the reason that some people are just happy with who they are. In no way am I about to say that binge eating is the reason why most overweight people are struggling because that is 100% not true. In my personal situation, binge eating is one of my problems but please don’t generalize this for anyone else.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s continue with a quick trip into the past.
Four years ago my life changed and I had no idea what was coming for me. My daughter entered the world with a surprise c-section that I was in no way prepared for. I was already a plus size woman before becoming pregnant but I was definitely on the small side of the spectrum. But with the pregnancy came obvious weight gain and the pounds only packed on from there.
I think it’s safe to say that my body took the surgery really hard. I didn’t recover well and I was definitely overwhelmed. I had problems nursing and was in complete pain. That combined with basically no sleep created a perfect storm – and then came postpartum depression. I’ve always been an emotional eater but with my life suddenly becoming a complete whirlwind I was full-on binge eating.
It makes sense when I look back. Half the time I was scarfing down my food as I tried to eat before the baby’s crying escalated. I wasn’t able to listen to my body and see if it was full. Before I knew it I had gained more weight than I had during pregnancy. Further, I wasn’t burning calories with nursing since my daughter didn’t want to and I never could figure out how to make time for exercise with parenting and a full time job.
Within a couple of months I had become the heaviest I had ever been. I was never able to lose it but I did spend years making peace with it. That is, until my husband and I decided to have another child.
Just a couple of months ago my son was born. I had a difficult plus size pregnancy but was able to spend a good chunk of it exercising and eating healthfully. At the end I lost control, but can you blame me? A few weeks before his due date I found out that I would need to have another c-section. But this time, I would be prepared.
I wasn’t going to let the things that got me off of track last time affect me this time. I was going to get nursing down, I was going to recover better, I was NOT going to let binging happen again.
At first, things started well. I was healing quickly and walking around so fast that the nurses were honestly surprised. My hunger was controllable and my son was even latching! But then we left the hospital and things got real.
I was not getting sleep and stress made its way into my life in new ways. In fact, I had a newborn and a four-year-old to juggle now. And just like a toxic friend, binging found its way into my life again. Before I knew it I was scarfing down food so I could tend to the baby, my hunger was overwhelming from nursing so much and all I wanted were sweet treats to comfort myself from the chaos.
The sweet treats multiplied and I found myself dipping into the dessert jar often just to get through one more of his crying spells. It was like a drug. It got so bad that I finally reached out to my mom who happens to be a therapist. She encouraged me to keep a food journal so she could spot patterns. I’ve decided to be open with you and write down some of the entries below; she made some conclusions that I will share.
First of all, she found that I was waiting too long to eat each meal. By the time I could eat, I was famished and consuming more than necessary. She also saw that I was always reaching for unhealthy choices when stressed. She encouraged me to keep some healthy options in the house that would still feel like a reward but wouldn’t be as damaging to eat. And last, we saw that a lot of my binging wasn’t satisfying me. I was eating things that didn’t make me feel any better. She encouraged me to be more intuitive about this and not waste calories on things that didn’t do the trick.
Now you may be reading this and thinking that the solution is simple and I should diet but I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t agree with diet culture. I’m about life change and so I need to focus on practices that are permanent and not temporary. Otherwise, I’ll fall back into the bad habit. So for now my job is to be more mindful whenever I’m eating and make better decisions whether I want to or not.
Sometimes that’s just what I have to do.
So if you’re struggling with binging yourself, I encourage you to do what my mother did for me. Keep a food journal and write down everything you eat for a week or two. Write down what’s going on at that moment and how you are feeling, too. Don’t hide anything from yourself – I’ve totally done that in the past from shame but it’s not helpful. Instead, be completely honest so that you can go back and look for patterns in your own habits. Then, you may be able to make small changes that will help you gain back your own control.
Just know that you are still worthy no matter what the outcome brings. I’m here in solidarity with you. Bad habits are always waiting for their chance to return and even if we fall off the wagon, we can always get back on again. The main thing is that we’re trying.
Food Journal Entry Examples:
Tuesday – Baby woke up at 6:00am to feed. I was very hungry but didn’t want to eat because I was too tired. All morning it became too stressful to eat. I tried to get my daughter dressed to go to school and the entire time the baby was not cooperating. I wanted something sweet but resisted. I finally ate lunch at noon. I was very satisfied and full but could’ve eaten smaller portions. Had chilaquiles, chips and queso and half a large cinnamon sugar pancake. An hour later I was wanting to eat just because but I resisted. For dinner I had three croissants with spaghetti meat sauce. I was still hungry afterward but ignored it.
Wednesday – I’ve been hungry since midnight but didn’t eat. I was too tired. By the morning I was super hungry and craving something sweet. I had a cinnamon sugar bagel. For lunch I wanted something more filling because breakfast felt more like a snack and it didn’t satisfy my sweet tooth. I got pad thai and ate most which was a large portion. Also had a Coke. The drink wasn’t satisfying and was a waste of calories. The food made me full but I still wanted something sweet. I ate two truffles and that helped. Thought about wanting more sugar all the way through dinner. I had a chicken chalupa with rice and beans. I also had chips, queso and a Coke again. My sweet tooth never went away that day.
Thursday – Woke up hungry but waited to eat with my family. Had burger and fries. A couple of hours later I had a cookie for snack. I didn’t eat again until dinner and had a small amount of chips and queso. Also ate three chicken and cheese tacos with rice and beans. Downed it fast since the baby was crying. An hour later I was craving chocolate. Ate three truffles.