"I'm Mostly Happy, But I Can't Stop Bingeing"


"Sorry I bit your head off, Mr. Green, I musta' been feeling a little anxious. Now I just feel fat."

This e-mail came in from a reader named Jen who shared her story, and wanted to know how I stopped binge eating. Figured some of you might want to know, too, so here you go!

Q: I’m almost 30 and mostly very happy…I quit my corporate job to become a life coach, regularly exercise, write, work on my feelings, etc. I’ve got two great cats and a live in boyfriend of three years. I’ve been through therapy twice, I’m life coached on an almost weekly basis, and yet i STILL struggle with binge eating. I’m still within a healthy weight range, but bingeing doesn’t feel good, as I’m sure you know.

Sometimes I feel so hopeless and don’t understand why I can’t come up with consistent strategies to deal with my anxieties in other ways than eating. I would love it if you could tell me the process of stopping bingeing, the different stages, what you did, what you do now, etc. I want to be free. I feel so free in so many of the other areas in my life, this just feels like a big black hole that I wonder if I’ll ever be able to climb out of! —Jen

A: OK, wow. Were we the same person or something? I, too, had plenty of therapy and was in a really good place in my life as I approached my 30th birthday. From the outside looking in, I suppose everything looked great. I was doing pretty well at work, was dating often, my weight was stable at 181. But I was still bingeing. Not nearly as often as I had in my teens and mid-20s. And not as severely-a binge had turned into something like a big quesadilla with too many tortilla chips for dinner versus six candy bars like it used to be.

But, like you said, even that few-times-a-month bingeing didn’t feel good. I knew that I’d reached a wall in my growth as a person. That I’d never be as successful, as happy, as healthy as I wanted to be if I didn’t push past these last remnants of emotional eating.


Get thee hence, trigger food!

So, I sought out a free support group and started going to a meeting every week. Then very, very slowly I started adopting other healthy behaviors that people in that group were doing. I dedicated 10 minutes each morning to reading something self-helpy or inspirational. Then I added five minutes of quiet, deep breathing (you could call it a form of meditation) a few days a week. Then I started looking at what my trigger foods were—things that always seemed to lead to a binge. And I started avoiding those foods most of the time simply to make things easier on myself.

For a while, I even planned out my food each day in the morning, to erase any of that “Should I? Shouldn’t I?” anxiety throughout the day. I opened myself up to accept help and support from other people: reached out and became good friends with some of the people I met at the group I went to. I got a gym membership and started working out at least once a week.

Three and a half years later, I’m recovered from binge eating disorder, I’m 30 pounds lighter, I’m married to my best friend in the world and-with the exception of an occasional emotional eating slip here and there!-I no longer rely on food to avoid or cope with my feelings. I’ve got way better tools in my toolbox now. Things that actually help me cope in a positive way.

Jen, thanks again starting this conversation. To the rest of you: Please feel free to e-mail me or comment here to share your stories or Qs. We can become our own support group of sorts right here on HealthyGirl.org!

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[gummi pic: klaireebear; Barbie pic: Migraine Chick]

5 Responses to "I'm Mostly Happy, But I Can't Stop Bingeing"

  1. Genevieve says:

    Hi Sunny,

    I just discovered this blog through a mutual friend (Kat)-I’ve heard many mentions of you over the years from her & other NYC friends (we probably even met at some point during one of my visits). I really admire the work you’re doing and am so excited for your new book! I’ve struggled with my weight and eating for so long, and love to know people like you who can sympathize and help-because they’ve been through it, and not because they see a fat person and think “that’s disgusting-put down the twinkie and take a run; you’ll be fine.”

    Thanks for this. I am determined to make a change for the better, and blogs like yours make the journey SO much easier.

    • hlthygrl says:

      Hi Genevieve! I’m so glad Kat hooked you up with me/HealthyGirl.org-it’s nice to virtually meet you. Hope you’ll come back and join the conversation. And the next time you’re in town, email me, or have Kat email me and we’ll leave the husbands behind and go get drinkies! Sunny

  2. chwyatt says:

    What wonderful advice. I think you’re right on. That is to say, the foundation for recovery starts with the acknowledgement that there is a problem in the first place. After that, a good support network, excersize, nutrition, and light weight training will go a long way to get you where you want to go. It’s a proven philosophy, something that hasn’t been eroded by slick advertising ads or the nutritional pimps on televison. Keep up the good work and don’t forget to read the Straight Gospel, No Chaser blog after your workout.

    GOD BLESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Your Straight Gospel, No Chaser writers

    CH Wyatt & L.E. Coleman

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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.