Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dissecting a Binge

Recovering from yesterday. I'm sad to say I binged. Not a small, fizzle-out snacking on sweets, not the Mother's Day overeating. A full-blown binge.

I would have loved to have come here and reported how I vanquished it, broke it down and defeated it with all kind of relaxation techniques and cognitive therapy skills. And I did try. But it just didn't happen. It was like a switch got flipped on and once that current went through, there was no turning it off.

I'm doing my best to see the positives here, the morning after. Taking May 1 as the starting date of my IE journey, I'm pleased that it's taken three weeks to have another binge. Since I was bingeing pretty much two days a week every week for several (way too many!) months, I know this is real progress.

Every IE book I've read has told me that the binges won't magically disappear. It takes time to recover from (in my case) the many years of using food to comfort myself, as well as the last few years of diet mentality that had been taking over my life. And the point was made that even if you master the IE techniques, you will never become a "perfect" eater, because no one is. Almost everyone overeats once in a while; a lot of people occasionally eat for emotional reasons. But they don't do it all the time, and they don't berate themselves and consider themselves bad, morally bereft people because of it. And it doesn't make them spiral into binge eating.

I've also read that it can take a long time for your body to recover from the deprivation caused by long-term dieting. In the "Intuitive Eating" book they explain that when the body is faced with long term calorie restriction it creates a "primal hunger," which creates a drive in the body to eat everything in sight, because it has recognized starvation conditions and is instinctively trying to prevent death. This doesn't go away immediately; in the famous World War II study it took their test subjects months to recover normal eating habits, and that was only after a few months of restricting. I've been doing it for the majority of three years.

Of course, I'm not totally writing this off as an involuntary drive that was completely out of my control. Over the course of the day I tried my best to chip through the "eat, eat, eat" chant in my brain to get at the feelings coursing underneath. I know it was a stressful week at work and I was sick with a cold and dealing with my time of the month of top of it. And Saturday was the final straw: I was nervous for my daughter who was having her big dance recital, and I was stressing trying to get her ready and at the auditorium in time. And my husband was stressing me out with a situation that really had no bearing on our relationship, but on dealing with other people. It was making me anxious because I knew what my husband was doing would upset these other people, some of whom I deal with regularly, and I just knew I would somehow wind up getting stuck in the middle of it. And Lord knows I can't stand upsetting people and having them angry at me.

So I was stressed, anxious, depleted, and tired. I was afraid of dealing with other people's anger and rejection. Those old feelings of deprivation were running wild, and even though I realize now that I felt deprived from rest and relaxation and nurturing, I focused only on being deprived of food. It didn't matter that I kept telling myself "You're not being deprived anymore! You can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Just stop when you're full." But that little wild child inside of me didn't want to hear the word "stop" in any shape or form. So I binged.

Today I'm a little remorseful about it, a little worried about weight gain and my clothes not fitting. But I realize that even though I don't like the binge, it has its usefulness. Now that I'm aware of what I need to look for, I was able to use this binge to get to the bottom of what I'm really feeling underneath the top layers of deprivation and rebellion. I'm starting to learn what the real problems are and what I really need to focus on in my life. And even though I didn't win the battle this time, I'm gathering more information, more insight, and hopefully next time I'll be more prepared and have more strategies in place to take care of myself in other ways than eating.

And the good news is, I didn't get on the scale this morning to asses the damage. The numbers at this point are irrelevant to the mental and emotional progress I'm making, and I don't want to add insult to injury by focusing on a number instead of what I've learned.

On a good note, my daughter kicked a** yesterday at her recital! She is such a talented gymnast, and I was so proud of her I nearly burst. I brought her a bouquet of flowers after her routine and I could tell she was really pleased. Today we're continuing her celebration by taking her to the matinee to see Shrek 3. But right now I need to go shower for church. Hope everyone has a good Sunday!


Lori said...

Well, I'm glad you are seeing the positives in this. Three weeks is pretty good; add that it's TTOM, stress from your husband, your daughter's recital and everything else, I think you've analyzed it pretty good.

You forgot one thing. It's the weekend. And the weekends are always hard for you in any case.

Nope, do not weigh yourself as you're right about that too.

I was reading about that study from WWII last night. What a coincidence. I hope you are good to yourself today and the rest of the week. Don't beat yourself up that much. I think you've done really well with IE.

Anonymous said...

Binges happen. Let it go. Nobody died or will die because of it. Move on.