When Did You Know You Had a Problem With Food?

Today we have a guest post from a lovely young woman named Lauren. She asks an interesting question…I’ll answer in the comments. Hope you do too. The bigger this conversation gets, the more people we help, ladies. xo…Sunny

What was your defining moment with food? Mine involved candy bars...lots and lots of candy bars.

What was your defining moment with food?
After years of wanting to do something about eating right, I hit a breakthrough—or so I thought. I found Sunny’s old blog on glamour.com a few years ago, which led me to sign up for the Body By Glamour shape-up plan that she was doing. I was determined to finally, once and for all, change the way I lived my life!

Months of counting calories in the online food journal kept me in an honest relationship about what I put in my body. The exercise routines allowed me to break a sweat five times a week and discover my passion for running. Even after I bid farewell to BBG and was independent in my new lifestyle changes, I wasn’t just doing well, I was doing fantastic. I thought of myself as a model success story when I hit my one-year mark of eating right and doing fitness while even continuing to lose pounds.

Then, one night, I was waiting for the subway home, stressed from not eating all day. Everything apart from food had been erased from my brain. I rushed off the train and sped to my apartment like a charging bull. I remember making a turkey sandwich, eating an apple and then my memory leaves me.

What I saw afterward told a sad story. Boxes full of 100-calorie packs, gone; bread and deli assortments, gone; several frozen dinner meals, gone. I saw a Duane Reade bag with a receipt lying on the counter: bag of Reese’s Cups, gone. I saw blood mixed with my vomit sitting in the toilet. I felt like someone had beaten my throat and body with ten bats at one time. I napped the rest of the day and woke up the next morning to shamefully clean up the trash from the previous day’s binge. This wasn’t the first time this had happened in my life. I fell to my knees on my kitchen floor crying.

It has been over two years since my relapse in my apartment and I can truly say it was my defining moment with food. I learned that my “year of success” was filled with too strict of eating and over-exercising. My body was weak but more importantly, it was hungry.

I don’t think I can say I’ll ever be fully recovered; relapses can happen in the most surprising of moments. I can, however, continue to eat healthy, fill my body with enough food, and give my body rest from the gym when it needs it.

Whenever I feel myself thinking about food in a way that I know for myself is unhealthy, I always remember that night. As horrifying as it was, it serves as my motivator that I never want to get to that place again, and I’m pretty darn confident I won’t.

What about you? Have you had a defining moment with food? —Lauren

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10 Responses to When Did You Know You Had a Problem With Food?

  1. shadowlight says:

    I’m not sure I ever had a moment like that, a moment of clarity as it were…

    I think though I can remember the day I realised that maybe I had a “problem”>.. I had become totally obsessed with food, counting calories, mesureing my exercise levels, asigning “points” to activities and foods to make sure tha my exercise always outweighed my food intake… but I still hadn’t realised that it was bad…
    Then one day I was in college feeling articularly ill when I passed out for the second time that day, but this time I was at the top of some stairs… long story short I woke up in hospital with tubes and monitors everywhere… I was kind of forced into rrecovery after that, but still didn;t fully accept that I had a problem!

    A year and a half ago I had a relapse, this time that I would purge as well as restrict and abuse diet pills… I ended up in hospital with a tachicardia… I now get tachicardic attacks every few days as it ends up that I have damaged my heart by messing up my electrolyte balance :/

    So unfortuantly it took until I had done a fair bit of damage before I realised how bad it was… and even now I’m not really fully “recovered”, still have the odd period of restriction or night of purging… :(

  2. Heather says:

    Wow. Lauren’s story rings true (as it seems all of them do) with my own experience(s). I worked really hard for a few years, eating sanely, swimming every night and I was a size 6/8 and was pretty damned pleased with myself. Everything seemed to be perfectly balanced. Then I started having an affair with my business partner and left my husband to be with him. Things got complicated when my business partner decided not to leave his wife after I had made all of this choices for him. One of my best friends was hurt by the decisions that I made and decided that she needed to take a break from our friendship while I sorted things out. All of a sudden, I was alone. I was sad, and I was completely alone. I got back, very quickly, into my old self destructive patterns. One night, I went to the grocery store to “pick up something healthy to eat”. I walked up and down the aisles of the 24 hour grocery store and started putting food into my cart.
    When I woke up the next morning, all of the food was gone. I had, like Lauren, started with a simple sandwich and apple…which I then dipped in peanut butter…followed by a family sized bag of chips, a bag of halloween candy and an entire carrot cake. Seriously…the whole cake. I didn’t even bother taking it slice by slice. Me and a fork. The cake was still partially frozen when I was doing this. (On a funny note though, I was drinking can after can of diet coke the whole time…you know, to save calories) When I looked around at the floor I remember being ashamed…fully and mind-numbingly horrified. And yet, instead of thinking about getting sane, I repeated this for months and months until I finally packed up my world and decided to start over as a sane woman. Baby steps.

  3. Angie says:

    Thank you for this post. I have been reading this site for a month and I feel like it is saving my life. I have been an emotional eater for 21+ years. I went through a long period of recovery only to have relapsed during the past 4 years. I feel like every day I have a defining moment with food and I do not want my life to be defined by the food I eat. I want to be more than food and not feel the pull of the scale. Some days are better than others. I am going to start tracking my little victories and I will keep coming back. Many thanks to Sunny and everyone who contributes to this site.

  4. Kate says:

    Lauren, thank you for your story.

    I knew something was different with me when I was very young. My aunt and uncle treated me to ice cream and I ordered far more than i needed (I really wanted that waffle cone, something my mom never let me have when she took me out for ice cream.) and proceeded to eat it all. My uncle, who had ordered the same thing I did, couldn’t finish his cone and stopped eating. I felt really embarrassed that I could out eat an adult. To this day, I often see my aunt watching me while I eat, and to some extent judging me. (She has her own issues.) That incident set me up for years of eating too much and with people commenting on my food intake. Through it all I thought the only way to fix me would be to find the right diet program.

    It didn’t hit me that I possible had an eating disorder until last year, when after 6.5 years on WW (and regular periods of binging) I decided that 2009 would be the year I lost the weight and made lifetime. 29 days later I binged the night before weigh in. That and coupled with the hysterical crying I would have on my weigh-in day forced me to look at myself closer and to see that there was a problem that would not go away with exercise and eating healthy. It has taken another year before I feel able to go to treatment and ready to accept that I need help with this, BED isn’t something that I can fix just by reading books.

  5. Lauren, Thank you for sharing your experience with binging and teaching people they are not alone. It seems like you’ve learned a relapse is temporary and you have the skills to get right back on track. Well done. To read more about how to get back on track read my bog entry Retraining My Resistance Muscle
    at www. TranscendenceTalk.com or http://transcendencetalk.squarespace.com/journal/retraining-my-resistance-muscle.html

    Laura Lee

  6. Marina says:

    Oh god, I have this problem ALL the time! Actually, its happening right now! I was severely restricted the last 6 months (and i eat less at college anyways) but as soon as I came home for the xmas holidays, I put on a very unhealthy stone. On returning to college, I ate hardly anything the first 2 weeks, which put me near my original size; however, the amount of exercise I did majorly outdid the energy I got from food, so I ended up hurting myself and made myself feel constantly tired. Its a horrible cycle, but the thought of food scares me sometimes, especially when I am starving, anything could set off a binge. I think there are different degrees of controlling your weight/how many calories you eat and controlling you emotions and how they make you feel about food. For most of us, there are underlying issues, but addressing them is difficult.

  7. Veronica says:

    I really don’t think that I’ve ever had a moment where I realized that I had a problem with food.

    I do remember this one time when I was about eleven or twelve where I bought 6 bags of chips and ate them in one sitting. I think that that incident was the first time I ate so much because I was feeling lonely. So you can say that that is maybe where my problems with food started.

  8. Gorda says:

    There was actually no food involved in my defining moment – at least not directly. I was chatting with a group of colleagues about the different ways each of us dealt with stress: one would go out and run a few miles, another one would get a massage… And one of them said: “I used to binge… [she made a pause here] and then purge.” She then confessed that she was in recovery from bulimia; talking about it matter-of-factly was part of her therapy. The thing is, in that brief pause before she mentioned the purging, I recognised myself. That was how I used to deal with stress: I would binge… and then binge a bit more. Until that moment, I had seen my out-of-control eating and my inability to stick to a diet as the consequence of my total lack of willpower (cue frustration, self-loathing and self-esteem issues). Needless to say, I had felt alone in the world – it never crossed my mind that there might be other women raiding their fridges at night. My friend’s comment made me think that maybe what I did was also an eating disorder, that maybe there were other binge eaters like me. Google confirmed this, and I’ve been reading, learning about BED and working on my recovery since then.

  9. Suz says:

    This is interesting. I remember eating a whole bag of Lay’s potato chips every day after school in high school as a “snack”. 7 ounces, something over 1000 calories and around 70 fat grams–in hindsight. But in high school, I had no clue how many calories there were. Granted, I could probably have had less acne if I didn’t do this… But what’s fascinating to me is that this was snacking, I didn’t feel bad afterward about it, I didn’t hide the empty bag, I still was hungry two hours later for dinner with my parents… In hindsight it’s interesting to see how NOT bingeing eating a lot of “junk” can be. And I weighed 95 pounds throughout high school.

    But then in college I started eating emotionally. 1/2 pound of chocolate covered almonds at a time, or yogurt covered pretzels… chocolate pains au chocolats, sometimes two… going to two or more vending machines so no one would see me buy multiple chocolate donette packs. Stress, insecurity, whatever. But my problem started then not in high school.

    So what was the difference? I think in part it was that depression started to kick in–and I’ve had depression on and off since 18. Partly it was feeling like I didn’t fit in but should. All I know is I started out with what is now called BED and after I gained weight rapidly, turned bulimic.

    I’m not bulimic anymore and haven’t been for over 20 years. Yet I won’t pretend I’m normal. I have obsessions. I have an odd relationship with food. I have an overly direct relationship between my body size and my self esteem. On the other hand, I don’t have electrolyte imbalances and hemorrhoids from taking loads of correctols a day anymore, or fainting spells.

    But I think it’s possible to work on the thoughts and still practice some of the behaviors, and to stop the behaviors and keep some of the obsessive thoughts. I’m in the latter category.

    I keep working at it. Thanks for this blog.

  10. […] garbage are safe from being eaten—that wasn’t always the case, as many of you can no doubt can relate to!) But some other part of me said, “No, that’s wasteful. Just don’t think about […]

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.