Real Story: Eating From The Trash Bin…And Other Things Binge Eaters Have In Common

Ever tried to explain binge eating or the compulsion to overeat to a “normal” eater? Yeah, they usually don’t get it. There are some things that only another emotional eater can understand—and see the humor in. As Rachael, 20, a reader from the U.K., says…

Ever taken food back outta one of these to finish it off? Yeah, me too.

I was explaining to a lovely friend the other day what binge eating disorder is and how I have struggled with it for about 5 years now. She just didn’t understand—she could not fathom why anyone would want to eat skim milk powder from a packet or 15 slices of bread covered in Caesar salad sauce. I replied “well I don’t WANT to” to which she said …”well why DO you do it?”

This is a question that I have been battling with throughout my binge eating journey. Why do I do it? Why is my relationship with food so unnatural? Why do I choose food as a comfort over the comfort of my friends? I think that is the number one question anyone suffering from BED needs to get to the root of, whether it be through self reflection, journal writing, counseling, hypnotherapy or yoga.

Now casting the seriousness aside (though I do believe it is a terrible thing to struggle with and can have huge implications in ones life), I wanted to quickly touch on the ‘humour’ involved in BED. Because what I found when I was relaying my story to aforementioned friend was that we just couldn’t stop giggling at the absurdity of it all. And her repeated questions of “but WHY, why would you do that?” rather than being judgmental or harsh, just highlighted that something I have come to consider as a normal, everyday happening, is in fact a little strange.

BED Humour:
I’ve eaten a block of chocolate in the…wait for it…shower. Not wanting my mum to catch me and scared that she could hear me unwrapping the foil, I thought I would kill two birds with one stone—get clean and binge. Although the hot water certainly didn’t help as I soon found myself covered in sticky, runny chocolate.

I used to wish my beautiful boyfriend at the time would leave my house so that I could eat anything in the fridge. I would rather sit and stuff my face with ice cream and sandwiches then hang out, have fun or make love.

When there aren’t any foods my brain considers “bad” enough I will make my own concoctions. For example I would take brown bread, slather it in butter, put fatty salad dressing on it, baked beans, nuts, tomato, ham, 3 types of cheese and whack it all together and chow down. My friend took that all in and said “but weren’t you sick?” and the sad thing is I wasn’t. That was just a mini binge. After I had done that and “ruined” the day I can continue, sometimes for hours—and it would only be until I am so bloated, gassy and have a migraine that I will actually stop eating.

Last night I bought a tub of low fat icecream thinking I would have 2 scoops. I ended up eating half the tub in secret in one sitting. I threw the rest into the bin but when I went to the fridge and there was nothing “bad” to eat I went to the bin, found the tub and finished it off.

Yes ladies, I ate from the bin. You’ve gotta laugh sometimes to stop yourself from crying. —Rachael, 20

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37 Responses to Real Story: Eating From The Trash Bin…And Other Things Binge Eaters Have In Common

  1. Marina says:

    Reading this is like looking in a mirror. You’re right, sometimes you just gotta laugh at how silly it all is, even though we all know its awful!

  2. Tamara says:

    Big Fritos + salami + vegetable cream cheese dip. Bread + Nutella + vanilla ice cream + chocolate chips…yes, I can see how “normal” people would find that strange.

  3. Sunny says:

    I used to bury things deep in the kitchen trash in order to stop myself from finishing them…but if the binge urge was bad enough, and the food was covered or in a container, it wasn’t safe.

  4. Kate says:

    Oddly I have never eaten food from the garbage, though I have been tempted. Mostly, I would just throw out everything “bad” and then take the garbage out so I wouldn’t be tempted.

    I did eat baking chocolate (twice!). I wanted to eat something sweet that no one would notice I had eaten, so I started breaking blocks of baking chocolate and eating those. My mom must have figured something was up (she wasn’t using the chocolate), but she never said anything.

    Sunny, is it sad if I think the shredded coconut/cocoa powder/peanut butter sounds good?

    • Sunny says:

      Not sad at all…it actually was kind of good. :) Too bad it wasn’t eaten in a healthier state of mind! No regrets though-for any of us, for any of this. It’s what every single one of us has had to go through to get where we are, and get healthier day by day, step by step… xoxo

  5. Veronica says:

    I don’t think that I’ve ever thought of eating something out of the trash can. However, when people do visit I wish they would leave so that I can be able to eat whatever without having them judge me. I don’t know if this has ever happened to any of you but I do remember it was the summer before I started the 10th or 11th grade, I went and bought pants for school, tried them on at home and like they didn’t fit me I just sat on my bad crying and eating cookies. :( I wish I didn’t suffer from this because I sometimes feel like it is ruining my life…

  6. Rachael says:

    One thing I have really begun to notice is the difference in my eating the week before my period is due. That last icecream saga was during a week of non stop bingeing. I just felt like I could not stop, every day I needed to eat even though I felt physically drained from it all and I was sleeping shockingly.

    Does anyone else notice a pattern of confused eating behavior that’s pre menstrual?

    • Alixe says:

      Yes, Rachael i have definatly been noticing this the last couple of months but it seems like even though i know what im doing i can’t stop. This whole month has been pretty good for me then bam these last couple days before my perod is due ive been eating everything is sight, ice cream, icing anything ‘bad’ that i can get my hands on really and its just sooo frustrating.

  7. Kel says:

    i have spoken with my friend who also suffers from binge eating, and we laugh at ourselves about the absurd things that we used to do. But i never thought that it could expand so far, and that there were other people with eating patterns so similar to my own.
    i dont go as far to make my own concoctions, instead i will starve myself for most of the day at work and then go to about 4 different takeaway places on the way home just so no one would know how much food i was really buying and judge me and secretly eat it at home so my mum cant see it.

    its not so much funny just really expensive..

    • gabriela says:

      I hit the fast food places too… and ordered in… or went out of my way to the supermarket… It isn’t really fun.. and afterwards I felt bad physically and economically so I can totally relate to this..
      I guess the worst part was the paranoia about how I felt the fast-food people judged me… or the cashiers at the supermarket..

      • Kate says:

        I always feel paranoid about what people are thinking when I buy food. If I’m at a restaurant and a male server is taking my order I sometimes change what I want to seem like i’m “trying” to eat healthy.

      • Heather says:

        I used to order extra drinks so that the fast food employees (who do not know me, nor will ever know me) would not judge me. Same thing in bakeries…I would order a dozen or more items and make a comment about how my (fake) husband or family were waiting at home for me to bring the dessert. It’s crazy. Truly crazy.

  8. Kel says:

    by the way.. by place of shame to eat = my car

  9. Ksenia says:

    Oh, I can totally relate to all said. I yet live with parents and mom is really worried about my weight so I did not want to disappoint her and sneaked into the bathroom with 3 cheeseburgers and huge amount of fries to eat all that secretly there.

    And I also noticed premenstrual changes in my eating patterns, I generally want to it way more food then and well less healthier foods.

  10. Louise says:

    Binge Eating Disorder is the most neglected eating disorder. It’s the most common eating disorder yet it is the most underfunded. People ‘get’ anorexia, they’re prepared to acknowledge bulimia but BED is the illness that dare not speak its name.

  11. Trish says:

    i drank heavy cream out of the carton once. i was probably 13 years old. yikes!

  12. katrina m says:

    when i’m in a bad way i’m a sucker for the taco bell drive thru late at night after work (midnight)…. i get so much food and take it home and eat it. or if i don’t want my husband to know because i’m too ashamed, i will eat it in my car in the parking lot. but at $10+ a pop, yes it gets expensive.

    another thing i did a few months ago was buy brownies and cupcakes and other crap from the vending machines at work and go in the bathroom and eat it in one of the stalls so my co-workers wouldn’t see me!!!! gross and humiliating…. i would eat it fast too in case someone came in….

    i’ve been trying really hard to break past all of this!!! but if i have another relapse i am going to look into counseling.

  13. Katie says:

    Just one thing that’s been bugging me, guys… People mention getting “counseling” on here as a way to get help. I don’t know if it’s just me, but when I picture “counseling” I picture sort of open-ended supportive talking with a professional.

    There are very specific treatments for binge eating disorder, and I would term these “psychotherapy”: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Psychotherapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy adapted for BED. These have been proven effective in treating binge eating.

    Here are just a couple of links talking about the studies have been done…
    CBT and IPT:
    DBT adapted:

    There are treatments out there that work!!! You don’t have to struggle against this alone, if you are armed with the information to find the right clinician.

  14. Shady says:

    I’ve been reading this blog for a while but this is my first comment. I used to read Sunny’s blog over at glamour though. The other night I was home alone and bored and stressed. So I ordered a pizza and as I was putting the order through realized I wanted fries too. And when the delivery guy came, the box was huge, enough for a family. I ate the entire small pizza and most of the box of fries. Than I threw all the garbage in the top and put it on the kitchen counter to toss in the morning. And I waddled off to bed so full I felt like I was going to throw up. The next morning I woke up, took the box of fries off the counter, took the garbage off the top (dirty napkins, empty dip containers) and ate the rest of the fries. When I finished I was so disgusted and ashamed of myself and so happy that I lived alone and no one could see my disgusting habits. I’ve been going through an adjustment period since September and these binges are more and more common than they’ve ever been and I just don’t know what to do. But this site makes me feel better, less alone and less ashamed.

  15. L says:

    Yes, picking food out of the garbage - been there, done that. And far too often… So now, whenever I leave something unfinished, I either burn it or pour something like detergent or washing powder over it, so there is no way to wash it off. Or if Im still capable of putting some pants on, I take the trash out. This is my first year living out of the parents’ house and my own place and college has helped a little, since I just don’t keep anything but vegetables around the house, so binges have become less frequent. But a year back I would eat so much I sometimes prayed my guts dont rupture, but still craving some more at the same time… And the constant fear of parents finding out, all the sneaking at night, replacing the eaten stuff, and searching for new shops where I havent been before, the hidding of packaging… It is the worst nightmare. And of course, I felt like a monster - I never knew there were other girls doing the same. In my case, moving away from my home city was a major relief, since I’ve never been happy there. Here, thing automatically settled and my relationship with food somehow is getting more sane. I eat normal meals and have the crazy days about once a month - yes, probably period related.
    (Sorry, I made it so long, but I’ve never been able to tell my story so honestly. I was even too ashamed to tell everything in details in therapy.)

    • Katie says:

      L, I’m so glad you were able to be honest here. You were not a monster, even if you very truly felt like one.

  16. Rachael says:

    I am both happy and saddened that my blog generated so many comments.

    Happy - because it makes me feel less alone. Healthy Girl is helping me to feel less like a freak, while still regonising my behaviour is not “normal” and needs to change, I am starting to hate myself less for the behaviour and giving myself more time to ask myself “Rach what’s wrong?”

    Sad - because it seems BED is so common and yet its not openly spoken about in the media etc.

  17. Lauren says:

    Has anyone else ever eaten…
    Milk bone dog biscuits…
    Or kitten chow - the kibble with the milk powder on it?
    I rationalized it wasn’t ‘human food,’ so didn’t count when I ate it while dieting.
    And always the fear of others finding out. Told a therapist once, and felt such shame and embarrassment, never discussed it again.
    Still struggling to find ways of giving myself pleasure & comfort & reward that don’t involved food.
    And ways to sit with pain and loneliness, knowing it will pass, I don’t need to numb out, I will survive…

  18. Samara says:

    here’s a story for the BED vault.

    First off, I am a big fan [no pun intended] of Rubio’s Fresh Mex. However, they don’t have a drive thru. This became a problem for me.

    You see a “normal” person can go into Rubio’s and order 2 or 3 value meals and not think anything about it or feel judged. Me? I felt I always had eyes on me, that the person behind the register was judging me.

    So, I began to talk to myself, so to speak. I’d walk into the restaurant on my cell phone, stand to the side looking up at the menu and talk to myself. Or rather, to the “friend” I was taking an order from. Of course, I already knew what I wanted.

    “So you want a sprite or coke? Ok..Coke. Did he want something too? Ok. A number 5? Alright. Ok, see you two in a bit. Hi. Yes, I’m ready to order. Can I have…”

    I’d order up to THREE different value meals at a time..each with a different drink, and consume them as quickly as I had order them. The meals were like a reward for “cleverly” deceiving everyone present at the restaurant.

    Today, I laugh at how I felt back then. It was as though I NEEDED to carry on with these conversations. It’s amazing at some of the things we do to maintain this lifestyle.

  19. H says:

    omg…this is SO funny to read because.. I’ve done all of this LOL The last post about faking phone calls??> OMG! I’ve done that so many times I can’t even count!! and what a BRILLIANT deceit, right? So shameful…wow…I’m so glad I stumbled across this, because it DOES make it easier now to laugh and shrug it off that other people have done the same thing… I just dug out from my trash can to eat something I don’t even LIKE. Now it’s sitting on the counter while I type this..making it a lot easier to (hopefully) just throw it back in the trash…outside of the plastic wrapper 😉
    I would totally store hop, too… I’m sure you guys have done that, too out of the same paranoia. I know this store has this, and the gas station has this…I would be driving around all over the place just to satisfy a binge that left me feeling terrible and $20 in the hole? WTF? My drug problem was cheaper than this! Thank you all for sharing your stories…it really helps!!

  20. Adrienne says:

    Just stumbled on this post when I Googled ‘binge eating, bins’ and was astounded to find I am not alone in this horrible (yet, in some ways hilarious) debacle. I reckon I would’ve done about 90% of everything on this page, including all the comments. I wish I could stop. It’s expensive, antisocial and unhealthy, yet hardly a day goes by when I don’t engage in it. FFS.

  21. […] tags: binge eating disorder, Q from reader, recovery by Sunny Hi guys. reader Rachael, 21, left a comment this morning that I just had to put out there. Please feel free to weigh in […]

  22. Normal says:

    I do this and I wish I would stop. Strange thing is I’m a vegetarian and I have been known to eat meat that’s in the bin in my sleep. I imagine this is what is like mentally to be an alcoholic, it’s a compulsion I can’t stop. I eat healthy but if I see waste I have to eat it… I hide also when I do this and hide all the evidence of doing so. We have a laugh about it but deep down it is really affecting me.

    • Julie says:

      Yeah, I’m a vegetarian and sometimes during binges I eat meat…it’s the only time I ever to, and I really feel like I can’t even control it. It’s not that I want to and I don’t even like it! I really am not myself when I binge, I wish I could stop. I go to therapy and everything, which helps a little but I still binge! Those of you who are recovered or are doing it less frequently pleeeease keep posting tips. thanks :)

  23. Vanessa says:

    I have literally found food in to go boxes and eaten it when I don’t have anythng else. I have also indulged in an entire chicken, and one of my personal favorites a full dozen doughnuts. Is that bad? haha

  24. Ems says:

    Found this page after eating out of I had sprayed with window cleaner. Then everything I could grab from fridge. Relate to what everyone has said on here. Feel I di have v.addictive personality and each addiction is done in an extreme, destructive way. Frantic,secretive,shameful. And so tired of having a good positive period of time then falling off wagon AGAIN. Sooo tired. Thank u for this page. Like to say I had advice to stop binging but I usually just replace it with a different addictive behaviour-currently excercise then downing 2 glasses of wine in the evening! Is there a ‘healthier’ addiction?! All exhausting mentally! Good luck to all who share this stuff.

  25. Nathalie says:

    I’m a bulimic, and I eat things out of the trash too sometimes…
    What helps me is to put dish soap on the food, like say I ate a lot of peanut butter, I will out the soap in the jar and shake it well, then throw it in the trash…

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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.