I love lists and I love food so one day I thought why not merge the two loves? So I made an eating time line from as far back as I could remember until current day. Let me just be upfront in saying it wasn’t pretty.
Come to find out every stinking year had a horrible food memory associated with it that embarrassed or saddened me. My first food memory? A birthday where I recall sneaking in the kitchen after the party shoveling leftover cake into my mouth at a rapid speed lest anyone catch me. And that’s one of the tamer memories.
Sweets were nonexistent in my home replaced with raisins and sugarless gum. If ice cream was bought it was so rare that you simply “had” to hoard it. In your belly. And my food memory the following year? Sneaking change out of my mother’s bag while she was napping so I could buy candy at the neighborhood fair without her knowing.
A few years later my food memory is a doozie . . . being friends with a very large girl at church knowing in the back of my mind snacks could be epic at her slumber parties. And boy was I right. She made two batches of fresh cookie dough and we ate them right out of the bowls, sprinkled with Captain Crunch cereal watching Ralph Machio get his Karate Kid on. She told me nobody ever wanted to spend the night with her and I truly could not understand why not. She had a great movie collection, she was a really sweet girl and her access to forbidden foods was out of this world. They moved a few months later and I honestly was sad to see her pantry go.
Forward years ahead with puberty slowing down my metabolism along with decreased activity and the gorging of food caught up with me. Like many bingers I had a 10 pound weight flux where my clothes felt great on the lower end (when I had the bingeing beast under control, was exercising, watching what I ate) and then when the buttons were uncomfortable and clothing most restrictive on the higher end (when the bingeing was winning and my emotions tanking as I failed to regain some control.) Onward to college and I had a front row seat (or stall) in how to become a bulimic. But despite the ol’ college try, I wasn’t very good at it. Talk about an ironic reason to beat yourself up – you can’t even throw up right girl!! Geez what a loser. And don’t even try the anorexia route, I can’t even skip lunch without low blood sugar crashing in and causing me to act like a lunatic.
There are episodes where the bingeing beast wasn’t around, I had learned some control or I had a reason to look good be it a new beau or clothing bought for a special occassion. Just knowing what numbers were on my clothing tags gave me a rush through the day. Hey, I never said I was normal. Yet the beast would find me again from time to time and I’d fight that battle usually at the end of the day where exhaustion, stress and boredom met.
Yet sometimes I’d relapse while seated at my desk typing press releases while repeatedly downing Cadbury mini eggs once they hit the shelves post Valentine’s Day through Easter sales. Always stashed in my drawer, up high on a pantry shelf, hidden in my trunk as though if nobody else can see the food hoarding then the problem must not exist. Just like I would never binge in public, even thinking to myself in my trance like bag to mouth state that I would die one hundred thousand times over if my friends saw this. Then I’d remind myself that this is exactly why I never did drugs. All or nothing personality does not bode well for healthy food control. Or in free pouring wine if nervous at a party, but that’s a whole other post!
Being pregnant then nursing for at least a year with each of my three kids in a span under 4 years gave me a new perspective on appreciating what my body could do. And when I diet I am committed – remember the all or nothing personality? So in losing baby weight I hunkered down but I still obsessed about forbidden foods or “treated” myself with sweets when I was in the clear. While raising 3 kids 3 and under I’d find myself plotting through the day what I was going to consume then waiting until I was alone cleaning the kitchen or folding laundry to “reward” myself. I remember being thankful it was chocolate I was stashing when my little one walked in on my bingeing as I realized I was two steps from hiding my goodies in the toilet tank a la Meg Ryan did with her vodka in “When a Man Loves a Woman.”
My control never kicked in until I competed in the Gold’s Gym Challenge – 12 weeks of eating the same thing for every meal day in and day out. I’m no fair weather dieter! But 24 pounds down, 10 body fat percentage points and mucho muscles created later I was not about to wreck my hard work. And then we moved back across the country to a city where I didn’t know anyone living in an apartment for three months.
The old demons of plotting a “well deserved treat” that I’d shove under all of my good groceries in the shopping basket then hide in the apartment pantry were alive and well. I’d wake up strong minded ready to battle the sirens wooing me to the pantry, even with high intensity workouts and eating clean all good intentions were out the window by my kids’ bedtime. In a few short hours I am capable of packing away what some people eat calorie wise in the span of an entire day. The fleeting moment of food as my friend is just that, fleeting. Soon it revolves back to shame, guilt, self loathing, promises of a better day tomorrow and overall disgust with my weak character.
Realizing that this is not what I would want for my daughter, and honestly don’t want for myself, was my personal intervention. I know that Paul had an affliction that God told him He would not heal and instead giving him supernatural strength to endure and eventually persevere (2 Timothy 4:5). Understanding that binge eating disorder is real is a healthy first step and something that can take someone years to struggle through in identifying. Usually onset later than bulimia or anorexia, it does not discriminate among race or gender.
For me to share my struggles is daunting because part of the cover up in binge eating disorder is the illusion that you have everything under control. Wow isn’t your life just Pinterest perfect? But no life is perfect – and my internal red flag is raised when I see “perfection” splashed across a Facebook post. If one person is nodding her head in agreement that this too is her struggle in some way, then the choice to be a candid blogger and share my story for the sake of encouragement is well worth it.
Although to binge is something I now struggle with on an infrequent basis, it is a reality that keeps me on high alert for myself and my daughter and sons. They say knowledge is half of the battle, but I think what’s the other half? Self-worth, determination, awareness and lifted spirits are a few. Beyond the emotional there are several other components I’ve found in aiding my struggle tied to a healthy relationship with food: high intensity interval training, Juice Plus concentrated veggie and fruit capsules, clean eating removing gluten and dairy from my diet, Complete Non-GMO Protein Shakes and dedicated prayer time in the Word.
But for now here’s to the girl literally hearing her pantry call her name and feeling only self-defeat she wonders if she’s the only one in the world capable of stuffing down her feelings with an amount of Oreos that would stun even Cookie Monster. You aren’t alone. You aren’t the only one. You are not a failure. In fact you are worthy of so much more. You were fearfully and wonderfully made by God for a life He planned for you.
Know that the self deprecating thoughts you hear in your head are not from your Maker. They are not of God. So if we can rally and build one another up saying “I’m worth so much more than this disorder” we can start stepping out in the knowledge that we are not alone. That we were not created to feel so helpless. Let’s rightfully snatch back our hope in today being the day where we get it right, and if we mess up in a few more days or weeks or years then that’s OK too. Beyond the damage this disorder can do physically, it can wreck havoc emotionally as well. Give yourself some grace and know that you are not alone.