by Christine on July 21st, 2016
Okay, I’ve been faithfully tracking my food intake (journaling) for the past week….and the results aren’t pretty. Boy, I should have started to do this a long time ago so I could have been aware that my eating is out of control.
Day 1: 1816 calories consumed, no exercise.
Day 2: 1471 calories consumed, no exercise
Day 3: 1652 calories consumed: ran a 5K at the gym (45 minutes)
Day 4: 2196 calories consumed: golfed for 6 hours at a golf outing
Day 5: 2615 calories consumed: hiking for 7 hours up two mountains
Day 6: 1390 calories consumed: No exercise
Wow, did you see that? Every single day I am eating well over my goal of 800-1000 calories per day, and two days I ate over 2,000 calories worth of food! Holy moses!!! No wonder I’m packing on the pounds!
If I look at the information further, I see some general trends:
- I eat a lot more on days when I exercise. I’m hungry.
- I’m doing ok eating every few hours, but my portion sizes are much too big. I need to start whittling these down.
- I’m drinking too many calories. Alcohol. That needs to stop. Over 2,000 of the calories those six days came from alcohol. That’s just silly.
- My food choices have largely been pretty healthy. Lots of fruits and veggies and healthy protein.
- I did spectacularly drinking water while at work (and hiking). Less spectacular at home. Noted: drinking lots of water isn’t doing shit to curb my appetite.
- I did well planning out snacks and meals every few hours. The problem is that those snacks or meals were too high in calories/too large in size.
So: Smaller portion sizes is going to be key here, as well as cutting way back (preferably stopping) the alcohol consumption. This means breaking out the scale and measuring cups, and making sure that my mini-meals are of a reasonable size. That’s my task for Week 2. I am going to try to start photographing my meals also, for additional accountability. I don’t think I’m going to be able to whittle my calories down to 800 calories by next week, but if I can get them in the area of 1000-1100 calories, that will be some progress.
Tips for myself for cutting back on food/hunger:
- Quit the alcohol.
- Quit the sugar. (I really did better with this, this past week though)
- Eat protein shakes as snacks.
- Measure and weigh food.
- Keep some fresh veggies on hand for snacks. (carrots are mostly lower cal than fruits)
- Leave food on your plate, or cut part of your food off to throw away.
- Cut back on high-calorie fatty foods. I’m a sucker for caprese salads. The tomato is awesome, but cut back on the mozzarella. More tomato, less cheese. (But…not “no cheese.”)
by Christine on October 18th, 2011
Some of you may be long-time readers of my blog, and some of you may be newbies to my blog. So forgive me for re-capping before I dive into my latest launch.
I’m not I wasn’t your typical overweight woman. I didn’t overeat on a regular basis. In fact, I had a lot of control over food. I had a lot of willpower when I felt like exerting it. I had a remarkable ability to follow any diet to a T. I ate healthfully. I watched my calories. I exercised, sometimes normally and sometimes obsessively. The weight just didn’t come off though—in fact, just the opposite. The weight kept piling on. I turned to extreme measures and even went 70 days without eating a thing. (read about that here) Crazy, I know, but willpower just isn’t something that I was lacking.
However, I would still consider myself a binge eater. For me, it has so much to do with emotional issues. I didn’t necessarily have the easiest childhood, for reasons that I’m just not going to get into right now. A lot of those circumstances were entirely out of my control.
But a lot of my emotional issues are within my control. I am a headcase, people. I’m a bona fide nutter. Thank GOD people can’t read minds, because they’d institutionalize me in a heartbeat.
I think I can boil most of my self-induced emotional issues down to my outside relationships. I just don’t connect with people. I come across as cold. Aloof. Uncaring. A little weird. Scatterbrained. Self-righteous. Judgemental. I’ve learned that I have expectations of friends and family that are unrealistic and not normal. In fact, I’m a highly sensitive and emotional person, but I internalize everything. People hurt me. All the time. And so in return I oscillate from wanting to isolate myself from the entire world to wanting to jump into the world with both feet and win the world over. I try too hard. I care too much.
I’ve known all of this, of course. And it’s easy to see the correlation between needing to be loved and accepted, the feelings of rejection, and my relationship with food. When I feel hurt and spurned, THAT is when I reach for the bag of cookies. Actually, no, scratch that. I tend to yearn for Chef Boyardee and grilled cheese sandwiches. In massive quantities. And no matter how much I eat, it doesn’t calm the hurt inside of me. Of course, afterwards, I feel rotten, bloated, fat, and like a self-sabateur. Because I am. It can be a terribly self-defeating cycle.
And so, despite having a great ability to control my food and exercise 95% of the time, there will always be that 5% emotional eating that flares up and is outside of my control.
This weekend I had another episode, and ironically I didn’t even recognize it as an episode until today, three days later. It’s just that much a part of normal life for me, I suppose, that I don’t even see it for what it is. There was another situation where I felt rejected, unloved, unimportant. And sure enough, I opened a can of Chef Boyardee that I keep hidden in the way back of my pantry and heated it up.
The gastric band is a fantastic tool for a binge eater like me. There are just simply certain foods that I can’t eat with the band. And I simply cannot overeat with it. I started to wolf down 6 bites of Chef Boyardee (because eating slowly and feeling emotional just don’t go hand-in-hand), got stuck, barfed, and then threw the rest of the food out.
In fact, a lot of banders, including me, find that stressful situations make the band even tighter than normal. (You can read about why that is here) That’s been the case since Saturday, and I’m having difficulty keeping any food down at all. I should probably get a small un-fill, since this seems to be a re-occurring problem, but I’m hoping that the tightness will pass.
I wish that there was a device, like the gastric band, that can turn the crazy off in my head.
All this makes me realize—yet again—that although I’ve gotten my weight under control at last, that the work to fix some of the emotional problems that contributed to my weight problem is ongoing. Losing weight has solved a lot of problems in my life, but it certainly hasn’t solved them all. This is an ongoing battle…
What are some tools that you use to equip yourself against the mental battles you face?
by Christine on November 6th, 2010
Yesterday was a mental reminder that I still have a lot to learn, that even though I’m only 2 pounds from my goal weight, that my struggle with food will be with me for the rest of my life.
The interview went really well yesterday. I answered all their questions thoroughly and succinctly. I smiled a lot, tried to show that I’m upbeat and friendly. I asked them questions about themselves and about the company. I liked their answers, and I’m far more excited about the possibility of this job than I was before. I will be very surprised if they don’t call me in for a 2nd round of interviews.
After the interview, I decided I wanted to treat myself to a martini for a job well done. I went to a nearby restaurant and had one–only one!–martini and read a chapter in my book. It felt great to sit there and let the post-interview stress work itself out of my bones.
Then I got in my car and started to drive home. Friday at 4 p.m. means a lot of traffic on the highway, stop-and-go traffic, etc. I could have taken back roads to get home, but I wasn’t in a hurry and said, “sure, I can kill time in the car.” I had soft music on. The martini had me loosened up. I allowed myself to tap into all these emotions related to work just a little bit. For instance:
- I’m scared to hell that I’ll hate any job that I’ll get.
- I’m afraid to admit that I don’t want to work a “real job” anymore. I enjoy being home. I enjoy writing on my own time.
- I’m afraid to have that conversation with my husband because he has already told me that he wants me to start working ASAP, regardless of whether I “like the job” or not.
- I even contemplated the idea of getting pregnant even though I find the idea of having a child personally loathesome. Just so I can stay home. Which might be the dumbest way of trying to not-work on the planet.
- I’m scared of money issues and paying our bills.
- I’m worried that my husband will quickly begin to feel used and overworked. And I’m afraid that and resent me for putting him in that position.
- I’m worried that he’s disappointed in me. He’s already confessed that he thinks I’m pretty much unemployable and that I’m a “chronic non-worker,” and that opinion hurt(s) my feelings very badly.
- I feel totally broken, that I’m not good enough. And I don’t know how to fix myself.
In other words…a lot of very deep emotions kind of hit me all at once. I started crying just a little in my car. Then I drove to a little corner market (called “Stewarts” around here) and walked in. I bought a gallon of skim milk for home and a huge package of mini-cookies. Pumpkin flavored, with heavy cream cheese frosting. I took them back to my car and litterally started shoving them in my mouth. I even gagged once. Just shoving them in my mouth. Eating. Eating more. Crying a little.
Then I drove home. I think it was the sugar rush, I’m not entirely sure. But something kind of hit me funny, and I passed out in the living room. It was like a blackout. I woke up four hours later feeling mostly okay. Not so anxious, emotions carefully carpartmentalized, perhaps a little queasy in the stomach. I made a small bowl of tomato soup, and that killed the rest of my sugar cravings.
I’ve kind of been tired and out of it all day today.
Yesterday I was reminded that I have a lot of work to do, and a long way to go to battle my disordered eating. It’s not just binge eating, either, and I know it. I probably relate the most to binge eating, like I did yesterday. But as you can see from this post that I also have the ability to completely stop eating for very long periods of time. It all comes down to the same thing: a poor ability to deal with carefully carpartmentalized emotions plus a loose grip on the healthy coping mechanisms that I’ve learn to put in place (“safe” foods I let myself have, healthy behaviors like letting out emotions at the gym, going for a hike, getting out of the house in any way, etc). Oy. I have a lot left to muddle through.
by Christine on April 27th, 2010
I didn’t realize it when I was growing up, but I had binge-eating disorder. For the most part, I ate fairly healthfully and fairly normal portion sizes. Then, suddenly, I would feel compelled to devour an enormously large portion of food. I think I realized that I ate more than a normal person the first time I devoured a large pizza…then scrounged the kitchen for something else to eat. Clearly I wasn’t hungry at this point – in fact, it would be safe to say that I was quite full, but I kept eating nonetheless.
As time went on, I would binge eat more and more often. It was usually an emotionally-charged situation that propelled me to dive into food for solace. However, the binge-eating became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts: I became more aware of my overeating, and I was ashamed of it. As my feelings of shame (and anger and depression) of my actions took over, I would binge eat to try to numb those feelings. And so the cycle would perpetuate.
The further into the cycle I got, the more depressed about it I became. And the fatter I got. In three years I went from about 150 pounds to about 210 pounds. I hated food and wanted nothing to do with it, but I couldn’t seem to pull myself from the binges that took over my life.
From there, I started to develop all kinds of disordered eating patterns. I tried every diet in the book to try to stop the weight gain, but nothing helped. Starving myself didn’t help. (At one point I went three months without eating, for a total weight loss of about four pounds. That weight came right back on when I began eating again, of course.) I tried to learn to puke up my binges, but I was never successful at purging, so I resorted to laxative abuse instead. As you can guess, that method didn’t help me lose weight either.
I was pretty much a poster child for binge-eating disorder.
Binge-eating disorder is actually the most common of all eating disorders, according to the Mayo Clinic. The disorder affects 3.5% of females and 2% of males in the United States. The exact causes of binge eating is unknown, but sources say that the causes can be biological (you’re pre-disposed to the disorder), psychological (e.g., low self-worth), or environmental (social pressure to be thin).
Most resources claim that sufferers of binge-eating should avoid dieting because it can make binge eating worse. Cutting calories and not eating enough can cause a binge-eater to spiral out of control. Also, binge-eaters may find it more difficult than an average person to follow diet regimens, such as Weight Watchers, because of this trigger.
So what can you do if you’re suffering from binge-eating disorder? Most sources would claim to seek psychiatric help to try to face the issues causing you to binge. However, this can be difficult; the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMIV) does not currently recognize binge-eating disorder as a formal eating disorder; therefore many insurance programs may not pay for psychiatric treatment for this.
Anti-depressants have been known to help those suffering. Anti-depressant medication certainly helped me begin to overcome the disordered eating patterns at time. Appetite suppressants may also help curb the desire to eat. Appetite suppressants need to be prescribed by your doctor and include Meridia and Adipex. I took Adipex for a while and found it to be helpful at first, but eventually the effects of the pill became less significant. Topamax has also been shown to help curb the desire to binge-eat. (Topamax is actually seizure drug).
I personally would argue that gastric banding surgery would greatly help binge-eaters. The band has been a highly effective way of limiting the amount of food I can consume. On the rare occasion that I slip into binge-eating patterns, the band has completely prevented me from overeating. Of course, the band doesn’t do anything to deal with the emotional and psychological issues underlying the condition, but the band certainly helps to control the quantity of food.
My friend, Katie, has also been trying to grapple with her binge-eating disorder. She has found that keeping track of a meal diary each day has been beneficial in tracking eating patterns and trying to identify what emotions trigger a binge episode. Her meal diary looks like this:
Hunger Level (0-5)
Fullness Level (0-5)
Hunger Level (0-5)
Fullness Level (0-5)
Hunger Level (0-5)
Fullness Level (0-5)
Hunger Level (0-5)
Fullness Level (0-5)
Hunger Level (0-5)
Fullness Level (0-5)
Also, it may help to join an online forum to talk to others that have dealt with this same issue in their life. Sharing strategies for overcoming binges is a great way to learn new coping mechanisms and forge relationships with people going through the same issues as you.