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Eating to Binging: How Much is too Much?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I will admit it. I love food and I love to eat. I know those two sound weird and you would think they would go hand in hand but not always so. You can love food (ex. Chefs, foodies, etc.) but not love to eat (ex. overeat, abuse food etc.). Youc can also love to eat but not love food (ex. picky eaters etc). I happen to have a love for food like a foodie but also love to eat. It can even be diagnosed as a disorder, binge eating disorder, compulsive overeater, food addict. All three, thats me. It's a dangerous combination as I love to try new things, in fact if there is something I haven't tried I will go out of my way to try it but then I have no boundaries to stop.

I do most of my binging at home, ordering from take-out restaurants (not fast food). I can sometimes buy enough food that can feed a family of four or maybe more but just for myself. I know no limits. My life has never really had limits. Being the only child I pretty much got whatever I wanted. There was no discipline, no rules, no limits. I was a good kid, just pretty much free to do whatever I pleased and for the most part that was eating. Since my childhood issues weren't resolved as a child these issues has moved their way into my adult life. I spend money carelessly buying whatever I want and I eat carelessly as well, whatever I want. The downside of behaving this way now as an adult as I am responsible for my own actions so I must learn to change or I will self-destruct.

Life is about choices and yes I can continue on the path I have, eating my way through it, but the consequences are not pretty. My quality of life has suffered. I'm very ambitious but all my ideas and dreams are just that, only in my head and not a reality or part of my life. I don't consider myself living, just exsisting. Working to pay bills and cover the expenses of the lifestyle I have created for myself. In my ideas and dreams I want more from my life, I just have to work toward merging the line between what is and what can be.

All of that brings me to my present problem: How to distinguish the difference between eating too much and binge eating. Binge eating can be described as rapidly eating an excessive amount of food. In my opinion, binges are thoughtless and impulsive. It's done and over with before you even realize what you even ate. Since this is the norm for me I don't know what is considered binge eating and what could be a slight indulge. In my past efforts to lose weight I never really controlled my binge eating, I just reduced my intake and kind of dealt with the issue as something I could not change. This time around I want to change my bad habit by focusing on and praising days I don't binge so that will help me get through the days when I am weak to my food demons. In order to do that I have to do some searching to find out where the line ends from maybe eating a bit too much to where binge eating begins.

Here are a few examples that I am dealing with this week. If anyone has read my blog from last year they would know that I deal with sleep eating issues as well. Those aren't controllable at all and I have to pretty much control my surroundings as its much like sleep walking but I have uncontrollable urges to eat and since I'm sleeping I can't stop myself from eating. Most of the time I don't know what I've done until I wake up and find wrappers in my bed. It doesn't happen very often but I think it happens more when I'm trying to lose weight as I spend most of the day making choices about what I eat and denying myself things my food demons want as its not good for my diet plan. I think when I sleep at night the urges come up since I'm most vulerable at that time and if you push something down and down and down, eventually it will come up again and for me that time is when I'm sleeping. Sunday night I had one of these episodes where I ate an entire bag of pop chips while I was asleep. Granted one bag is 3 oz. and three servings and in Weight Watchers world 6 points I believe but points add up. That was a binge, it was excessive, and I wasn't hungry.

Then I have days where I am working out what to eat and what not to eat. For lunch on tuesday I had a flatbread pizza from Trader Joe's there were 2 servings in the box and I ate the whole thing. Was that binging? I was eating lunch and most times I do double up on servings. I don't feel that it was excessive but it was the whole flatbread pizza. I just think I had a large lunch but not a binge. It could have been a binge though, I'm not for certain. Last night I had Wendy's for dinner. I had a half blt cobb salad with a jr. bacon cheeseburger and a small fries. Was that a binge? I definitely made some choices that were for the better. I ordered a small fry instead of a large, I got a half salad instead of a whole and I ordered a jr. bacon cheeseburger instead of a bigger sandwich. I sat down before I left and really thought about my choices so I could make a informed decisions and not let my food demons choose for me. So because it was a well informed decision does that not make it a binge? The amount of food may have been a bit excessive but I have definitely done a lot worse before.

I need to know what is a binge vs. not a binge because I plan to create some sort of visual like my weight loss paper clip chain (adding another paper clip each pound I lose) to acknowledge every day that passes where I don't binge. I haven't determined what that visual will be yet, I'm working on it. When I do binge then my streak will be over and I will have to start from day one all over again. Hopefully that will encourage me not to binge on days when I need to be uplifted.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    wow, you have definitely got to do something, precious!
    never ever ever heard of anyone 'bingeing while asleep'!
    if you do this, you must have something edible within reach, so the only 'first-aid' i can think of for this malady is a line i got off the spark site: you can't eat it if you don't buy it! get every morsel of anything edible OUT of your bedroom!

    after that, you really should get some professional support. someone there beside you at all times. you need structure, purpose, lots of things BESIDES food in your life. hey babe, take good care of yourself, you sound like a really sweet lady i'd like to have as a friend.
    so keep on sparking, read these articles! i'll be checking up on you from time to time.
    3604 days ago
    For me, binging was something done in secret - the intentional, secretive overindulgence. It started with absolute intent, and left me feeling ashamed when it was over, hiding the consumption and evidence. I guess I never thought about what it was for other people, so your post really has me thinking!
    3760 days ago
    I also think of binging as thoughtless and impulsive. But I'm a foodie and sometimes, I pick out an extremely high end restaurant, make a reservation in advance, go with a friend, spend 20 minutes deciding what to order and consume upwards of 3000 calories. Doing so makes me feel classy and sophisticated and glamorous. It may be planned out perfectly but it is still a binge. So, I think thoughtless/impulsive eating is one hallmark but any time you are using food for something other satisfying your hunger, it could be the start of a binge.
    3761 days ago
    This is tough to remark on but I wanted to comment. I wanted to comment because I’ve binge-eaten since I was a child; but it’s tough to remark because I’ve been aware of *when* I was bingeing and what constituted bingeing for almost as long.

    I would guess that bingeing varies from person to person. Thinking about my experiences and how I know I’ve binged, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you sort it out:

    Why are you eating? (maybe you don’t know/think about it at the time, but you can evaluate afterwards)
    Are you eating to fill a void? To stuff a negative emotion (I say negative because it’s very normal to eat as a way of celebrating. That’s not to say that overeating out of happiness can’t constitute a binge, but, at least for me, it’s more common for unhappiness to trigger one.)?
    Are you eating more than 1 serving because you’re that hungry or because you’re just shoveling food in?
    Do you eat to or past the point of feeling sick?
    Do you feel a loss of self-control when you’re eating? (Taking the pizza as an example: Do you make a conscious decision prior to eating that you’re going to have 2 servings, or do you feel unable to stop eating once you start?)

    I’d recommend trying to figure out your reasons for overeating and the feelings associated with it so you can determine whether an episode constitutes a binge for you or not.

    I hope this helps.
    3761 days ago
    oh honey bun! i read your blog cause you are such a sweet lady and i just cant wait till we walk girl! we have got a lot to talk about! see you at the mall!
    3762 days ago
    RockyJay - thanks for your post. I have tried the following with stuff I would ordinarily binge eat.

    I acknowledge that I would ordinarily sit down and eat a whole row of saltines (for example)

    I would then take out half a row and put the rest away - twist tie the row cover, put it in the box, put the box on an inconvenient shelf.

    I would then focus on eating the half-row of saltines. Not doing anything else at the time (no tv, computer, driving - whatever) and after I finished eating, I would promise to wait 20 mins (the amt of time it takes to see if you feel "satisfied".

    After the 20 mins I would re-evaluate how I felt. Was I full? Good - don't need to eat the rest of the row. Was I still hungry? Divide the rest of the row in half and repeat process - waiting 20 mins after eating.... You've now spent about 45 mins stretching out your binge - you've slowed it down and become mindful of it. Still not satisfied? Divide the rest in half and have another go. You've now spent over an hour and you still haven't eaten the entire row. Meanwhile, you haven't eaten a bunch of other stuff either!

    Other tips:

    I eat 5-7 times per day. Consistantly. I RARELY feel deprived - maybe twice a month - max.

    I prepackage "bingeables" into serving sizes - that way I get a visual of what a normal serving looks like.

    I always promise myself that if I feel deprived, I can have more.

    You can do this!!
    3762 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/17/2010 5:20:58 PM
    I appreciated your well-thought out way of dealing with a difficult subject.

    For me, I used to eat until I felt like a lot of people do after Thanksgiving dinner. Totally Stuffed! I used to go to buffet restaurants and eat so much that it hurt! So my first step was to stop before I got to that point.

    Personally, it sounds like you are being very hard on yourself. I would suggest calling it a binge day if you go 1,000 calories over your daily limit on the nutrition tracker. That suggests to me that you were out of control. Going over by less suggests to me that you chose to overeat a bit.

    I would be extremely careful to track EVERYTHING you eat, INCLUDING all binge foods. That has been proven in numerous studies to improve a person's control over what he or she eats.

    I don't know what to say about the sleep eating. Sleep disorders are tricky. But eating those chips was pretty minor. I'd not consider it a binge.

    I am going to subscribe to your blog, because I find you an interesting, thoughtful woman.
    3762 days ago
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