Two years ago I was diagnosed with BED. Since, its only gotten worse. Especially these last 6 months. I’ve gone no more than 3 days in a row without binging. My binges are extreme: I mean eating until the point of illness. Stealing food from my housemates. Eating from a garbage. Spending bill money on binges. And the thing is I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried adding more protein. I’ve tried eating 3 meals a day. I tried eating every 2 hours. I’ve tried yoga, veganism, behavioural therapy, meditation. I’m scared. It’s ruining my life. It’s prevented me from studying, going out to eat with friends, ruined my relationship with my housemate, I even skipped an exam once because I was in bed sobbing from a binge.
It’s that time again! National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
What is NEDAwareness Week and why is it important you ask?
I’m glad you asked. Bringing focus to eating disorders is more than just showing support for those who are struggling with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. The intention here is to show just how pervasive eating disorders are and how much support there is for eating disorders in our culture. Yes, eating disorders are supported, not recovery. You can see it everywhere. You can see it when you turn on reality television, you can see it in a yogurt commercials or cereal commercials when you are encouraged to give up a meal and replace it with this artificially flavored yogurt or processed cereal to lose weight. You are supporting eating disorders when you sit around with people and talk about how fat you are and what your next diet is or when you start to discuss someone else’s weight gain or weight loss. All of this behavior supports eating disorders by reinforcing the idea that you are not okay as you are, that you have to do something dramatic to change yourself.
How can you support National Eating Disorder Awareness?
1. Choose not to engage in Fat Chat– that means, don’t base a friendly conversation around how much weight you need to lose or how much weight others need to lose or who looks like what right now. You have better things to do with your time and more important things to discuss. If someone tries to engage you in their own conversation about their body or someone else’s body, be kind and explain to them what you’re trying to do, “I’m trying this new thing where I don’t speak disparagingly about my own body or anyone else’s. And I don’t want to engage in any negative conversation about your body. My hope is to change the conversation and society’s focus on women’s bodies. Are you onboard?”
2. Don’t buy women’s magazines, especially diet magazines that are disguised as health magazines.
3. Check out NEDA’s How to page– to help you support eating disorder recovery
Have you ever wanted “to eat” so badly that rather than heating food up, you have stood in front of the refrigerator eating it cold? Have you ever been standing at your kitchen counter pounding a fork into a frozen cheesecake, even though you could have waited for it to thaw until the next day? Have you ever not finished heating something through because you just wanted it now, and even though it would have been more enjoyable with another 15 minutes in the toaster oven? Have you ever cooked something in the microwave because it was going to take 45 minutes in the oven buy only 5 minutes in the microwave even though in the microwave it would come out mushy and unappetizing? That’s compulsive eating.
The next time you find yourself eating something cold that would taste better warm, you have a good clue that you are eating for eating’s sake, not for enjoyment or nutrition. You then you know that you are engaging in a pattern or a behavior that is unhealthy. Try to stop, take a breath and tell yourself that the food will be better and you will enjoy yourself more if you heat it up, even if it takes time. If you don’t have the time to heat it up, wait until you do rather than compulsively eating something that is frozen or unappetizing. If you eat something cold or frozen or mushy, it will ultimately be unsatisfying and cause you to continue or spiral into a binge behavior– you will be chasing the taste that you are looking for. In the time that it takes to heat up your food, try to sit and breath for a few moments and ask yourself, “am I okay?” The simple act of heating your food can begin to turn you from a disordered eater to a mindful eater.
My daughter is 11. As far as I can tell, she (so far) does not care about her appearance beyond being clean. She doesn’t watch herself or her food with a critical eye.
She noticed and asked about my food and feelings journal. I explained that I carry the journal to write down some things to think about later, but that is all.
This leads to my questions: How much should she know about my disorder and recovery? Should I wait until I am further into recovery instead of at the beginning to discuss it, if at all?
I understand that every child is different and every parent-child relationship is different, so there is no single solution. I guess I am hoping for a bit of guidance from experience on what generally should or should not be shared.
On the one hand, I think it could lead to an important discussion about body image and how NOT to deal with uncomfortable feelings. It could also possibly help us bond further by letting her in to my inner struggles and humanity. I am her stepmother, but the only mom she has ever known.
On the other hand, I’m worried that I will awaken a critical eye in her just by discussing this. Also, because I don’t know how to deal with feelings myself yet, I won’t have an answer for her about what she SHOULD do when dealing with feelings.
Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location. Are you interested in online therapy to deal with your eating disorder? Please see my website or email me to discuss getting started.