Monday, 14 October 2013

Can you ever really cure binge eating?

Binge eating disorder, compulsive eating, non-hungry eating, comfort eating. Call it what you want. I'm sure everyone has it in varying degrees. Any person who says they've never comfort ate is probably lying!

I would consider myself a reformed binge eater. I used to be so consumed by eating, and would spend so much of my time stuck in the cycle of deprivation, rebellion, binge, guilt, and disgust (then back to a new start each Monday). It made me depressed, angry, and hateful of myself at the worst of times. Oh I could tell you lots of stories about what I used to do, but if you've been there, or are there now, you already know. 

Of course, reading "If not dieting, then what?" really changed my outlook and helped me a LOT. And for a while it really worked and I stopped binge eating. But then I drifted back to my old habits. I yoyo-ed around like this for a while but ultimately, addressing the behavioural reasons behind binge eating was only half the story for me. I didn't like the fact that I kept falling off the wagon and having to get back on again and I just kept putting on weight. Clearly, there was something more going on and I later found out that it was to do with hormones as well as what type of food I was eating. 

If you read the whole of this blog you would be able to see the journey I went on and the things I discovered along the way that helped me. In a nutshell, what finally stopped me from binge eating was when I realised that, for health reasons, I would need to cut out ALL grains for good. I couldn't cheat and have wheat now and again, and after reading "Wheat Belly", there was no way in hell I could be tempted to. After I read that book, that was it. Once and for all, wheat (the biggest offender) and grains were gone. The paleo lifestyle was in. 

Because I couldn't ever have those old starchy treats at all, it quite simply stopped me bingeing on them. No longer was I eating things that actually made me want to eat MORE (instead of the logical feedback mechanism that should be happening, where you stop eating when you've had your fill). And no longer was I eating the things that make hypothyroidism worse. I still let myself have all the fat, nuts, dairy, eggs, fruit and veg, and of course chocolate, that I wanted. But it's hard to really binge on those foods, as they are a lot richer than donuts or bread or biscuits (which I used to be able to eat huge amounts of in one sitting!)

If I ever crave something sweet or something baked, I bake grain free using almond or coconut flour. And because I know those things are better for me it comes without the guilt attached. Take the guilt out and binge eating reduces by half. I hardly ever go a day without having a little treat, even if it's just some dark chocolate. 

Okay, after briefly explaining all of that, let me get back to the point I wanted to make! I don't think I'll ever be completely "cured" of binge eating. There are still times where I keep on eating the chocolate even after I'm satisfied. Or I compulsively look for something that I can eat even when I'm not hungry. In my head I liken it to reformed alcoholics. They can never again have even one drop of alcohol because the risk of falling off the wagon is just too great. They have to go completely cold turkey, for ever. In a way, they are always an alcoholic - just no longer practicing, I guess is one way of putting it. Of course, binge eating and alcoholism are hugely different diseases with widely varying health and social repercussions (and both are valid). But I just know that if I ever went back to eating grains, telling myself that it's just a bit here and there, it wouldn't work. I think I would go back to my old ways - for a whole multitude of reasons that led me to binge eating in the first place, emotional, behavioural and hormonal, that are unique to each person. 

So, the short answer to my question, in my humble opinion, is probably no. BUT I think you can turn binge eating around and reform it. Everyone over indulges from time to time and that's normal. And that's a place I'm happy to be at, because it doesn't happen very often at all.

If you want any more detail on anything I've said please ask me.