Well, hello everyone! This is the first new HealthyGirl.org post since June when I was seven months pregnant. Thanks for being patient with the spotty contact as I readjust to life as a new mom! I have plenty to say about dealing with body image and weight issues after pregnancy, but that can wait until my next post. For today, just two days after Christmas, I want to talk about something that’s clearer to me now more than ever: there’s a big difference between eating too much and bingeing.
Those of you who are regular readers of HealthyGirl.org know that I’m recovered from binge eating disorder and have written a self-help book for girls and young women about it. During the years when I was actively trying to get sane about food and stop binge eating for good, the idea of eating even a little bit more than I needed to was scary. It was so hard to truly see the line between normal overindulging which everyone does on occasion, and bingeing. I had so much anxiety about it and would work to try to define it exactly. So, as they probably are or were for many of you, holidays were tough.
When I was in a 12-step support group, knowing the difference between overdoing it and a binge loomed even larger in my mind, because in order to do certain service positions in the group, a member had to be “clean” from binge eating. If I had a second helping at Christmas dinner that I didn’t really need and hadn’t planned, was that a binge? Or just an overindulgence? Were they the same thing?
Now, two days after what my mom and I called the most gluttonous Christmas week in our family memory (homemade cookies! special Kentucky doughnuts! mom’s red velvet cake from scratch! traditional Hickory Farms cheeses and crackers!), I am so happy to have figured it out.
For me, there is a huge difference between eating too much and binge eating—and here’s what it is: Run-of-the-mill eating too much doesn’t put me into a trance. I don’t feel out of control. I may wish I’d made some different choices (like when I woke up with terrible chocolate-induced heartburn, ouch!), but I didn’t feel that old self-loathing and guilt. Even though I consumed a heck of a lot of food last week, food did not consume me or my thoughts. I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night and sneak into the kitchen to eat something I was too embarrassed to eat in front of everyone else, unlike past Christmases. I didn’t care more about the cookies I was frosting and decorating than the time I was spending with my mom as we did it.
Do I feel a little puffy and sluggish from all the sugar and fat I ate over the holiday? Absolutely. Do I look forward to getting back into my more usual habits this week? You betcha. But I’m grateful that bingeing is no longer a part of my holiday seasons, and that the guilt and self-hate that accompanied it isn’t either.
How were your food and eating issues this holiday? Did you feel pressured and obsessive, or happier and free?