On Binge Eating Disorder

So, usually when I write blogs, I write from a psychotherapeutic perspective. Not today. It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness week and today I choose to write raw.

 

Even when I was a size 10, I thought I was fat. I never felt beautiful enough, intelligent enough, cool enough, social enough (I am still not social enough, but this is something I have come to embrace and love about myself). And, I never felt thin enough. I was quite a shy, socially awkward child and I grew up in an environment that valued perfection immensely and I was uncomfortable with my body from as far back as I can remember.

 

At age 13, I started to throw my food away on the way to school and I started exercising a lot. Not that I was overweight to begin with, but I lost weight and received compliments, and my belief that thin is beautiful became further solidified. My relationship with diet culture had been formalised, and from there on it looked like endless diets- from slimming clubs, to magazine recommendations to low carb and high fat and even nutritionists who didn’t understand what the long terms implications of their advice would be. With time, a pattern started to emerge. I would mentally and physically restrict my food for a period of time and eventually, I would end up bingeing – an out-of-control, no foods barred eating experience, usually in secret. This continued for years. Nobody would have known just from looking at me that this was happening. My weight was in the “normal” range, as was the rest of my life; and I had become an expert at managing this cycle.

 

At 26, things changed. I could no longer restrict. My mind, my body – the whole of my being in fact fought back. And the Binge Eating Disorder set in. The binges were bigger, more aggressive and frequent, and it became increasingly difficult to control the binge episodes. After each binge the guilt would set. I vowed that I would get back on track, the negative self-talk was all consuming. When I look back now, I am not even sure how I was functioning.

 

Perhaps the hardest part for me was the weight gain. The noticeable weight gain. Whilst many people passed comments – some serious, some as a joke, some blatantly astonished, some just down-right insensitive; I started to feel more and more broken. How could such an intelligent girl lack such self-control? And with the weight gain came deep shame, like I had utterly failed at life. As the cycle continued, I looked more desperately for a solution, I became more and more reclusive until I realised that the journey that I was on would most likely eventually kill me. And that’s when my path to healing began.

 

It has taken me years to heal my relationship with food. It’s been a journey filled with so many obstacles and knock-backs, but each came with its own lesson. I learned that in order to heal my relationship with food, I had to really learn how to accept myself – and that was flippin hard. I learned that I wasn’t broken and out-of-control, that there was in fact a very good reason for why I was doing what I was doing. I learned that I was bingeing because I was restricting, and I literally had to learn that it was safe and ok for me to eat again. Regardless of what my weight was, the answer wasn’t another diet, or another set of rules.

I learned that I had to put the pursuit to lose weight aside and instead I had to focus on nourishing myself in a gentle way. I learned that there weren’t enough people qualified in understanding this disorder – health professionals included.

 

Over the years, I worked with many people who have been through Binge Eating Disorder, it’s a multifaceted issue which requires understanding some crucial factors. For those of you that work in fields where you may encounter people that are experiencing this, please be mindful and educate yourselves because your advice may be exacerbating the issue. And for everyone else - please be mindful when you comment about someone’s body, weight or eating habits, you never quite know what someone else is going through.

 

To learn more about eating disorders and accessing support, help or guidance, click on the following link: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/types/binge-eating-disorder