This one comes from Jessica in New York.
Thank you for the great blog and newsletters. I really appreciate them. I am struggling really badly right now. I have been overweight my whole life- on my 25th birthday, I woke up and the scale said 300 pounds. I couldn’t believe it. I was so scared that I would wind up on one of those TLC shows about someone needing a forklift to get them out of bed. It was at that moment that I decided to lose weight. I implemented a strict zero carb diet and started walking 10,000 steps a day. In six months I lost 150 pounds. It was amazing. For the first time I could wear normal sizes and didn’t have to shop in plus size stores or the plus sized section. It was amazing to walk into a store and buy regular sized clothes. I felt like my life was finally starting. Only not- because I was always anxious and I was afraid that I was going to gain the weight back and I was afraid of food and so I started eating less and less and less. I lost my period and despite that, I couldn’t lose anymore weight. I just stayed at 150 pounds. I got to the point where I was eating like just 2 hard boiled eggs and a container of cottage cheese each day- and I still couldn’t lose weight. I became really anxious and depressed. Some days, even if I’d eaten barely anything the day before, the scale would even go up like 5 pounds. And then… the bingeing started. One day I just lost it, I ate a piece of cake at my niece’s birthday party and then I was done for. I started in on the cheetos, the coca cola, the chips, the candy… then I went home and bought a pint of Phishfood and ate the whole thing. And it didn’t stop from there. The next 10 days, I couldn’t stop bingeing. I finally got back to my diet- and I can maybe go now like a day, or sometimes not even. I just cannot, whatever I do, stick to the no carb thing. I feel like I’m elbow deep in oreos without even knowing it. Can you help me? I’m so scared and I feel so out of control. I’ve already gained back 20 pounds and I am afraid that I’ll binge myself up to 500 pounds. Why can’t I get back on my diet? Please help me, I’m desperate.
I’m so glad you wrote. I have seen your exact situation so many times. I know how difficult it is. You feel like a failure, you feel like you failed yourself and you feel like there is something wrong with you because you cannot get back onto your diet. Because your diet was so successful the first time, you are trying desperately to get back on, but you can’t. This is what happens to many people who severely restrict their food for a long period of time- they wind up on a life-long quest to get back to that way that they were- back to that severe restriction phase and beat themselves up when they cannot make it. They then begin bingeing like crazy. This is your body’s way of telling you “NO STOP DON’T DO THAT TO ME AGAIN!” And the fact that you couldn’t lose anymore weight after you got to a certain point, no matter how hard you tried tells me that you probably hit your body’s healthy weight so your body did what it had to do to maintain the homeostasis. THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT! You did not fail!
But not to worry, you can still maintain whatever your healthy body weight is without going back on your restrictive diet.
This is my advice to you. Stop trying to get back onto that zero carb diet. Feed your body big healthy meals at least 3 times a day. Include all three macronutrients, fat, protein AND carbohydrates. If you are uncomfortable with simple carbs like bread – that’s fine, but do nurture yourself with complex carbohydrates like yams, legumes, fruits and vegetables. I also highly recommend seeing an acupuncturist to help heal the damage that the no carb diet has done to your reproductive system and to restart your periods. You can also check in with your OB. It’s important that you pull yourself out of this binge/restrict cycle now and create balance for yourself and your eating. When you are feeding yourself 3 big healthy meals per day with the 3 macronutrients included in each, you will see your urges to binge greatly diminished. If you need help- please do see a registered dietician or nutritionist who specializes in treating Eating Disorders to help you figure out your food and get you the nutrition that your body so desperately need right now after so many month of not giving it what it needs.
I hope this answers your question and that you are able to feel better soon.
Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? 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 or coaching to deal with your eating disorder? Please contact me to discuss getting started.