I watched my husband open the pantry door and grab a bag of Cheetos. He so calmly grabbed one, chewed it, then grabbed a few more, ate those, then folded the bag nicely, and closed it with our chip clip. Sounds like a typical way of snacking, something everyone can do. But, to me, that has become the most challenging part of eating since recovering from an eating disorder.
Imagine your mind and body racing, and you cannot stop. I grab a chip, chew it, grab another, inhale it, and then it is a lack of control from there. Not just the amount of chips I consume, but the rate at which I eat them. There is no stopping. It’s a rush that you feel when you suffer from binge eating disorder. And, though it isn’t something that has taken over my life like anorexia did, it is definitely something that I struggle with and must be cognizant of since depriving myself of food for so long at the time.
It tends to mostly be with foods that I for so long desired and loved, but at the time of my eating disorder, I declared as bad, or restricted myself from consuming; pizza, chips, salty crackers, and more. During my treatment process, my binge eating was so out of control that I had gained an excess amount of weight; a weight that to this day has been my heaviest. It was a way for me to overcompensate and prove to that voice in my head that not only was I not listening to it, but I was making sure I ate even more of what it was telling me not to eat. Luckily, today, that voice is much quieter, and not as powerful. But, I still suffer from behaviors as a result of starvation for such a lengthy period of time.
I remember clearly discussing with my psychiatrist that when I grabbed a bag of chips at the time of recovering that I had no control. I went from controlling myself so much as to not even taking a bite of something to eating an entire bag. Wasn’t there somewhere in the middle? As part of my therapy, I was instructed to sit in front of a mirror when I went to eat chips or pizza, and watch myself consume it. The purpose of this was to hopefully allow myself to see how gross and improper it looked to so quickly demolish food, specifically that bag of chips. But, the truth is, by the time I grabbed the bag, the racing feeling set in, and there was no turning back, or even having time to walk over to the mirror. It just happened so rapidly, and so uncontrollably.
These feelings and behaviors still exist. I still struggle with particular foods, and racing thoughts when I sit down to eat. I wish sometimes that I could do what my husband does, and open the pantry, and grab a handful of chips and be satisfied. I know I can, but I just continue to subconsciously prove to that past-self that I am beyond an eating disorder; so far beyond that I can eat the entire thing, and faster than anyone can imagine.
Binge eating disorder is just as scary as anorexia. It is, in fact, the most common eating disorder in the United States. It continues to disrupt my life, mostly at night, when I know I am not even feeling physically hungry, but it still prompted by my anxieties. And, again, one I start, I don’t stop…until I am incredibly sick from knowing how much I ate, or from actually overeating to the point of being over stuffed. I continue to face these challenges, but do my best to manage them, understand them, and control them to the best of my abilities without them taking over my life again.