Binge eating disorder is one of the most common eating disorders.
However, too few people talk about it. In this article, I will talk about what this disorder that I went through is and will share some tips to overcome it.
What is binge eating disorder?
The binge eating disorder is an eating disorder characterized by compulsive food ingestion in a short amount of time.
A person binging will find herself out of control and experience a feeling of shame and regret afterward.
What causes binge eating?
Causes may vary depending on people but are most of the time related to stress, emotions, depression, diets or a bad body image.
Early signs of binge eating disorder
The following can be symptoms of binge eating disorder:
- Inability to stop eating
- Eating without being hungry and until feeling sick
- Constantly thinking about food
- Feeling of shame after eating
- Eating in secret
If you recognize yourself in some or all these symptoms, you may be experiencing an eating disorder. Being aware of it is already taking a step forward.
How it all started
The reason why I wanted to write an entire article about BED is because I have experienced it myself.
It all began when I started to count my macros and calories using the app MyFitnessPal.
I chose this method to hopefully loose weight because I was influenced by the fitness models. I was following many back in the day on social media and a lot of them were prepping for competitions.
A lot of people were and are still promoting this method and apps that indeed help you reach your calorie goals.
But too few people talk about the impacts that these can have on your relationship with food.
This is how I once started to scan and weigh everything I was eating.
At that time, I was working during the day and going to school at night. So I prepped, weighed and entered all my meals onto the app every single Sunday.
My weeks were very well organized in terms of meals, which allowed me to easily reach my macros.
However, my meals were THAT organized and precise to the gram that I eventually forgot how to eat without MyFitnessPal… to the point of being scared to go to the restaurant or to have a drink with my friends.
To the point of being lost without my scale. To the point of not being able to eat like a normal person.
Losing control of myself
From the moment I couldn’t control what I was eating, I completely lost control of myself. This is what happened when I was going to the restaurant, for example.
Because I didn’t know exactly the calories and macros I was eating, my brain shifted to a mode of “Anyway, I ruined it for today”.
What happened back home is that I ate everything I could find. And by everything, I mean everything.
I particularly went crazy with foods I was restricting myself during the week, and then moved on to other foods that I didn’t even crave.
You name it, all I could think is “it’s too late, so I better eat as much as I can” until I felt sick.
Until realizing what I just did. It lead me to regret, shame, and putting me even more down than I already was.
And as if this wasn’t enough, I forced myself to do one hour of cardio the next day to “compensate” what I ate.
Plus, I was so ashamed of what was happening to me that I never dared to talk about this to anyone.
By the way, I always did my best to overeat only when I was alone; I was scared of people thinking that “in the end, I wasn’t that fit”.
Those crises happened several times a month, and I was aware that this wasn’t normal for me. I never experienced such a thing before!
Believe me when I said that I envied my colleagues and loved one for eating normally. Isn’t that sad?
Finding my way back to normal eating
What made me realize something went wrong was watching a Youtube video mentioning binge eating disorder. I thought “damn, I have the same symptoms” – and after that, I kept doing my research.
I quickly connected the dots and concluded that counting calories completely destroyed the relationship I had with food.
So, I decided to not use MyFitnessPal anymore and only to rely on my body’s signals of hunger.
It wasn’t an easy task since I wasn’t restricted by numbers anymore and I went completely overboard sometimes. But I knew I had to do it.
Once I thought I was « healed », I went back to the app and started the process all over again to hopefully lose that weight. Bad idea.
My compulsive eating came as strong as it was before. So I probably deleted and re-installed the app about 3-4 times, after I promised myself to never go back to it again.
It was the best choice I took for myself and my health since today I am finally reconciled with food.
I still think it is important to be aware of what we put in our bodies. But our diet shouldn’t be based on numbers, rather on our body’s signals (unless you are following a specific diet plan recommended by your doctor)!
Our body knows exactly what it needs; listening to it is the best way to be aligned with ourselves.
My aim here is not to attack MyFitnessPal, people using the app or people counting calories. Some people use this method to reach their personal goals and it works perfectly for them. However, other people get a very bad experience from it, and it is important to talk about this.
How to overcome binge eating
If you experienced similar situations as I did, keep in mind that if I overcame it, you can too. One step at a time.
1. Acknowledge the issue
You might be reading this article out of curiosity, or maybe because you know that you may have an eating disorder.
In the latter case, congrats! Being aware that something is going wrong and looking to find a solution is the first step to recovery.
2. Understand where the problem comes from
As I told you, my eating disorder came from counting my calories, which is not the only cause possible.
Are you following a specific diet? Are you stressed at work? Are you in a relationship that doesn’t value you? Is your behavior linked to your emotions?
This step is important since the point is to find where everything started in the first place.
If you aren’t able to connect the dots between your eating disorders and your day-to-day life, I encourage you to ask a specialist for help.
3. Eliminate the root cause
The root cause being different from case-to-case, solutions will also vary for every person. Whatever the case is, you’ll have to find a way to remove what is causing your eating disorder.
- If you think it comes from counting calories or following a diet, stop NOW
- If you think it comes from stress, try not to rely on food to relieve it. Instead, try practicing yoga, meditation, sport, music, or whatever makes your soul happy
- If you think it comes from a relationship that doesn’t value you, think of putting an end to it as soon as possible
4. Reconcile your relationship with food
We all said at least once in our lifetime “this is not healthy, I shouldn’t be eating it” to finally finding ourselves eating it and regretting it.
Well, the more we say this, the worse our relationship with food will get.
I realized that the way we talk about food is strongly linked to our relationship with it.
Qualifying a cookie as “bad” or “unhealthy” will instantly make us feel guilty every time we eat one.
But treating food equally will enable us to enjoy whatever we want to eat. Yes, even when being aware that certain foods should be consumed in moderation.
In the same way, if you say to yourself « I can’t eat this cookie », your subconscious will see this as a challenge to face. Humans are always attracted to what is unreachable, right?
Instead, you can say “I could have this cookie” which will make you in a situation of choice – you have the choice to decide whether or not you are going to eat it.
I tested this method and I have to admit that having to “take the decision” to eat or no to eat something instead of feeling deprived makes a huge difference.
Having the choice will make you ask yourself whether or not you really want this cookie (I hope this makes sense lol).
Related post: 5 Tips to adopt healthy eating habits
5. Practice mindful eating
Whenever you are going to eat your meal or even a snack, make sure you are eating it without doing anything else at the same time.
Which means no laptop, no phone, no magazine, nothing. Just you and your meal.
This way, you will be aware of everything you will be eating, you will enjoy all the flavors and feel how your body is becoming more and more satiated.
If you also are going through an eating disorder or that you want to share what helped you overcome it, feel free to leave a comment below or come chat with me on Instagram @vlourish!