I wasn’t sure if I should share this here. I wondered if it would make a few of you lose hope, or maybe change your opinion of me, or the value of what we talk about here—or how much you can trust my advice.
And then I thought, eff that. What IS this place if not somewhere we can be totally honest about our experiences with binge eating/binge eating disorder? I’ve always maintained, as do eating disorder experts, that recovery and changing your relationship with food is a zigzagging journey that always includes a few steps backward.
So here goes: I binged the other day.
I can’t remember exactly when it was, or what I ate, but I remember the feeling. I’d set myself up perfectly for it: Alone, on the couch after my husband went to sleep, both kids snoozing soundly, television on for maximum distraction. The urge to binge floated into my head (as it did for so many years when I would watch TV alone at night), and I semi-consciously decided to shut off my frontal lobe—the one that knows binge eating isn’t how I want to deal with my emotions, and that the more you binge the more often your brain demands that rush of dopamine in order to feel good.
I ignored the red flags my rational mind was flying because, honestly? I didn’t want to do the healthy, happy thing in that moment. I didn’t want to do anything to interrupt the impulse. I wanted to lose myself in a binge, be “bad” for once, mentally go away for a few minutes, fail, just be f*cking frail and human and not try so hard keep everything together.
So I did. The binge was brief, and, as a reader wrote to me the other day about her own intermittent binges, it wasn’t “as bad as they used to be way back when.” But the biggest difference was how I moved on from it. Unlike the self-loathing that battered me for so many years, I didn’t beat myself up about it. I thought: Okayyyyy, um, that was different. What is up with me? And I didn’t keep it a secret. Told my husband, told my therapist. I don’t do secrets anymore.
Like all of you who’ve struggled with binge eating know, getting sane about food is a winding road. And, like all of you, I’m still on it. (Look for me in the super-old gold-tone SUV—the one with a couple of kids in the back. We’ll be speeding—probably—and bobbing our heads to Taylor Swift.)