(Image via Chatelaine)
It’s after seven in the evening. Work is over for the day, dinner has been made, eaten and dishes have been washed, The Boy is tucked into bed and on his way to dreamland. I scoop a small dish of ice cream, steep a cup of tea and promise myself that this is it, this is enough, I can control this. Except I can’t. One dish of ice cream turns into two. Two dishes of ice cream are compounded by a handful of chips, and then another, and probably another. And Heaven forbid we have jellybeans or jujubes in the house.
I am a binge eater.
I overeat (always in the evenings, after I can finally slump and “relax”) and I tell myself it’s okay. I don’t mind. I deserve a treat. It’s only this one time. No big deal. I can work it off at the gym tomorrow. I had a rough day.
Except it’s not okay. I overeat and then I am assaulted by a tidal wave of guilt and shame.
If I’m distracted, or at work and away from my cupboards and fridge, I’m great. Everything is shiny. I am very careful about what, and how much of it, I eat. I almost always bring a lunch and coffee break snacks to work (carefully constructed so as not to be boring, because boring lunches and snacks promote bagel-with-cream-cheese buying), I am careful about meal planning and preparation and I try really hard to keep junk food out of my house.
Invariably though, that dastardly seven o’clock comes along.
Why? Why do I do this?
I have theories, based on some of the reading I’ve done regarding binge eating, and other eating disorders*.
- I have never had a successful, accepting relationship with my body. I have always seen it as at least fifty pounds heavier than it is. This is dangerous for many reasons, but most importantly a) it’s not and losing more weight right now will put me into an unhealthy place and b) my worth is not my (fucking) weight. That aforementioned regime of healthy eating (and exercising) is obsessive to the point of being almost manic, and when it isn’t, when I have a few days of laziness and procrastination, I spiral into a self-hatred pity party of the same guilt and shame that hits me after I binge eat.
- I battle depression.
- I have stress and I don’t (know how to) manage it well.
I think what I need to do it calm (the fuck) down. I need to accept myself. I need to fall in love with myself. I need to stop being so hard on myself. I need to start trying for myself and stop worrying about the thoughts, opinions and feelings of people who don’t like me very much anyway.** I need to continue to eat well and move my body, but for me, my reasons and my health.
I also need to be careful about what I binge on when I binge. When I was pregnant, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GD). At the time, it wasn’t a huge deal. It was more of a pain than anything (and, if I’m being honest, it was also a good thing. I got a little carb-crazy in my first and a half trimester and treating the GD with diet and exercise, because thankfully I did not need to medicate it, helped me get back to a healthier place, which, I believe, helped my labour and childbirth to be the amazing success it was). But. GD is also sometimes a Gateway to Real Diabetes and that’s not a good thing. That is a thing that I need to avoid (through diet and exercise). So along with all of the self-awareness, balance and mental health motivations to address my binge eating, there is this.
It’s hard, guys. It’s hard to start to recognize how little I value myself. I tell people how much worth they have and how amazing and special and wonderful they are every day, but I won’t do it for myself.
*Because binge eating is an eating disorder. It is. It is real and it is important that you recognize and accept that, and get the help you need, or get someone in your life the help that they need.
If it’s helpful, I really enjoyed this article about binge eating: Binge Eating Disorder via HelpGuide.org
**One of my biggest hangups is acceptance. Not by random strangers on the street. By very specific people who I don’t think I’ll ever be able to truly please.