How Does Bingeing Affect Your Relationships With Other People?

Me? Sensitive? No. ...OK, yes.

New HealthyGirl.org reader Veronica, 29 (welcome!) left a comment for me the other day about a topic I haven’t touched on yet: How bingeing and extra food effects the way your mind works. A brief snippet of her note:

“I know that the foods that I eat affect my emotions, and I know that I am much more emotional at times when my bingeing is at its worst. I am pretty sure that this is affecting my relationship with my husband and my family (and probably it affects my friendships too, because I distance myself from friends when I feel down).

“What I am concerned about is that the bingeing/restricting also affects my emotions and interpretation of events at times when I feel relatively normal, too. I suspect that, because much of my energy is focused on food and weight, there is less for the people around me, and this makes me more impatient and more likely to overreact. Do you feel that you are better balanced, in general, in your responses to people and stressful situations now that you no longer battle so much with food?”

Oh Veronica, yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! I really hardly recognize myself from the days when my bingeing was at its worst. Many of us use food to try to control our emotions, but it doesn’t work. Those feelings keep getting stuffed down and packed away somewhere—and until we deal with them, those unprocessed feelings color everything we look at.

For me, this miasma often showed up as a general oversensitivity. I would read into things my boyfriends or family would say: “Why did you say it like that?! What do you really mean?” I also yelled a lot more than I do now. The emotions built up so much and I got so hot that I would explode—kind of like a pressure cooker.

Because of the shame and disappointment I had around what I was doing with food, I was a lot more envious and jealous of friends and acquaintances. And I was also much more easily overwhelmed. As you said, I spent so much of my energy thinking about food and my body—and feeling bad about what I was doing—that I didn’t have anything left over for anyone else.

I remember a few year ago, after I started going to support group meetings and really focusing on recovery, my boss complimented me on juggling a newly increased and complicated workload. She said to me, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it.” The changes were that obvious.

I know it’s hard to imagine how things can be when you’re in the middle of a difficult situation, but know that things can change—and they will change for you if you pursue getting better.

Now I want to open your question out to the rest of the community: How does bingeing affect how you cope with life and your relationships with other people? If you’ve moved forward in recovery, have you noticed a big difference?

xo…Sunny

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2 Responses to How Does Bingeing Affect Your Relationships With Other People?

  1. mel says:

    I usually feel like I’m binging because I can’t get attention from others. When I feel like I’m in a really secure and safe relationship I’m less likely to binge. But if I have feelings of doubt than I go to food for the comfort. It’s sad because of the low self esteem I rarely feel safe and secure and like I’m constantly needing reassurance from loved ones.

    • Victoria says:

      Thanks for the post, Sunny! I recognise myself so well in your story. I find myself constantly second-guessing what others say, and I definitely feel like a pressure cooker that keeps quiet for too long then lets off too much steam! I feel like part of the reason I don’t talk with people about problems or arguments as they arise is because I’m so used to choking off negative thoughts/issues (and eating them instead), and also because I’m so used to being secretive about the dark, desperate eating. So I guess part of what I need to do is to become more open in general. It’s really inspiring to read your posts and realise that these patterns can be changed, and that I don’t need to live this lifestyle forever.

      Mel, regarding reassurance, I was talking to a psychologist about that same thing. She said that, when you love yourself, you have a big bucket that you can store up other people’s love for you, and retain it, but when you don’t love yourself much, you just don’t have the resources to store up the love that others give you. That’s why you need frequent reassurance from others. You just don’t believe that they could really be loving you. This made a lot of sense to me! I know that my eating problem has so many reasons – partly habit, partly coping mechanism, but I think the main reason stems from a lack of self-love. So my challenge this month is to try to be kinder to myself! And the memo on my mirror this week says: “scales can’t weigh how special you are”.

      Peace, love, and mung beans to you all!

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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.