Going on a binge: the anatomy of self destructive behaviour

Up until recently, I used to drink a lot. Enough to be classified as a binge drinker (according to those ridiculously low thresholds set by fun killing scientists and doctors.) I did not have a drinking problem or anything, but I have enough embarrassing memories in my shame box to keep me warm for the rest of my days, and a few people out there who will never have any respect for me. Youth…

mmm, look at my problems dissolving away

mmm, look at my problems dissolving away

Like many introverts, I used alcohol to make it easier to deal with crowds and parties that seemed to be the only way to socialize and let off some steam. But like this article candidly discusses, I’m not alone. And if anything, my escapades are nothing compared to what some crazies out there get up to on the regular.

So anyway, I decided to drink less, for the extremely profound reason that I wanted to lose weight. It worked, and it worked very well.

Until I stumbled on a new problem. Binge eating.

binge

Booze was great for dealing with (and causing) unhappiness and depression. What better way to unwind after a long day than with a glass of wine? (yeah, fuck it, the whole bottle actually…)

But once I stopped this, I noticed that every once in a while, I would go off and systematically work my way through terrifying large amount of junk.  In retrospect, it’s actually quite scary. On more than one occasion,  I have methodically eaten a box of cookies, a bag of buns and other crap that I would never ever have touched in my previous life.

Why?

Binge eating is not about satisfying a craving. It’s not even about hunger. It’s not the same as over eating because you went out for dinner and you just couldn’t resist.

It’s exactly like drinking, except that instead of a hangover the next day, you have to deal with a bloated system and that sickly feeling that comes from a sugar overdose.

Even worse is that, you only have a narrow window where you decide to start eating or not. I call this the trigger moment. And it can be incredibly stupid. An annoying comment from a friend. Feelings of guilt about something that you should not have done.

Having painfully developed enough self awareness to recognize the signs, I can stop myself more often than not. But sometimes I don’t. And then the rampage begins and I literally eat everything in my path.

After this comes what I call the spiral.

alice in wonderlandAfter loading yourself with several days worth of calories, you get upset with yourself. And then, paradoxically, continue for a couple more days, because, hey everything is lost and you will never succeed at anything.

This kind of thinking is pointless and this is where all those self help books I read come in handy. This is the only thing you need to know and do if you struggle with binge eating:

Move on. Get back to your life and normal routine as if nothing ever happened. Don’t starve yourself. Don’t exercise harder. Don’t think about the damage that you have done. Don’t try and calculate how much you ate or if you will get fat again.

If you have to, think about what set you off. Really think about it. And then it’s back to business as usual.

Because life’s a bitch like that. You win some, you lose some, but you keep working till you get there.

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