It’s time for my evening snack. I check my meal plan and look at what I have available in the kitchen to meet my servings. Graham crackers and milk seems like a good idea. I take out 2 sheets pour myself a cup of milk and sit down. I dip the first sheet in the milk doing my best to be mindful, but I end up eating it fast so it doesn’t fall in. The second one goes even faster. Okay I’m done…or am I? Unfortunately not. I have somehow awoken the binge beast. I start to move my way around the kitchen frantically searching for more food. I feel like I’m on autopilot with a mission to devour everything in my path. Completely disconnected from my body and reality, I mindlessly gorge myself into an uncomfortable state of oblivion. I really don’t know what snaps me out of the trance, it could be my bulging belly or the fact that I have eaten practically everything available that doesn’t have a cooking time of more than 5 minutes. I sit down and cry myself to sleep completely discouraged and disappointed with myself.
This was a flashback to me in recovery. These uncontrollable binge episodes were somewhat of a common occurrence for me in the beginning, but with time they became fewer and farther between to the point that it has been well over 5 years since my last one. If you are struggling with binging it is important to know that you are not alone, you are not an anomaly. As freaky and abnormal as the behavior seems you are acting normal in recovery. I like to think of a simple analogy to explain what’s going on physiologically. Imagine you are forced to hold your breath for 3 minutes…
… 3 … 2 … 1 … 0
when you are allowed to take your first sip of air it is going to be more like a gulp, actually more like a massive I need this air or I am going to die type of gulp. Now think about how your body feels after all the time you have been restricting and depriving it. After all the time that you have only been eating a limited range of foods off your “safe list”. When you begin to give yourself permission to eat a wider range of foods you will most likely overcompensate. On top of this, you are also processing a lot of new emotions. Binging can be a coping mechanism that helps you to distract and numb yourself from them. I’m not advocating binges, but I do believe there is a reason they are not uncommon in the beginning stages of recovery. If you are struggling with binging now please remember these five things. You are not defective. You are not doing recovery wrong. You are not going to fail. You will overcome this. It is not forever. What is important is to accept where you are at and move forward. If you binge at your evening snack time start over tomorrow and eat breakfast. If you overeat at breakfast eat lunch. I know it is tough to eat the next meal, but it is the only way to take away the power from your eating disorder. A binge may feel like you took one step backwards, but showing up at the next meal is taking two steps forward.