No I don’t mean the place I retire to at the end of a long day. I’m talking about Binge Eating Disorder or BED, a serious mental illness. Not something that should be belittled or brushed aside as someone being ‘greedy.’ This disorder is not about having ‘one or two extra biscuits’ it is not you ‘having a splurge’ when you order a pizza for dinner after having a burger and chips for lunch and it is not something that can be detoxed away with ‘superfoods’ or ‘skinny teas’.
So what is it?
It’s a person (like me! Hi) who consumes a very large quantity of food over a short amount of time, eating when not hungry, eating and not knowing when to stop, eating and eating and eating.
If you’re still doubting how much food is consumed within a binge, then do not fear because here is a list of what I used to gorge on in one sitting:
- A pizza, along side chips or garlic bread
- Bread (white, usually half a loaf)
- a packet of biscuits
- a whole cheese cake or tub or ice cream
Most of the time I’d eat this sort of stuff within an hour and as you can see, it’s not a normal quantity. These binges were usually planned, after a bad day or a bad week food would be my relief. I would buy my ‘special’ binge foods, making sure there was no one in the house and I would eat, non stop, barely coming up for air. There was no thinking, no worry, just a feeling of numbness and I would be on complete auto pilot.
The process would be fast and of course the guilt would soon creep in.
I lived with BED for around three years before it developed into bulimia and it was the hardest part to overcome. Bulimia is hell but it’s possible to stop yourself purging or have someone to assist you to stop purging. Then you have addiction, drugs or alcohol are something you can live without. I am in no way saying that it’s easy to recover from drug or alcohol addiction but they are not something your body needs. You can’t stop eating, you cannot live without food, so you need to learn to cope with it everyday, learning to control that compulsion. It’s like saying to an alcoholic ‘you have to drink three times a day, just not enough to get drunk on.’ It’s continuous, every second of everyday, learning what your body wants and needs, learning when you’re actually hungry compared to when it’s going down the route of a binge. It’s exhausting and terrifying.
What This Disorder Is:
- A mental illness
- An eating disorder
- Compulsive over eating with feeling of distress either during or after
- More common than HIV, breast cancer and schizophrenia
- More common than anorexia and bulimia combined
- Life threatening
What This Disorder Is Not:
- Something to be made fun of
- Someone being ‘greedy’
- The ‘less serious eating disorder’
- A few extra treats
- something to be overlooked
I’ve just read over everything I’ve written and at some points I feel as if I came across angry.
Maybe I am.
Angry that, recently, everywhere I look there are advertisements and articles telling people ‘the top 5 foods to have when recovering from a binge’ or ‘best ways to detox after a binge.’ Acting like it’s nothing, like this illness is just something to be detoxed away, like it’s not a real problem that real people face. I’m angry that something that I struggled with for years is being belittled and made out to be something that it’s not.
I’m also angry that my friends and family are buying into it, believing that a few cookies or a pizza means they’ve binged. Believing that they have to go through these stupid rituals to ‘detox’ their bodies when their bodies are perfectly capable of detoxing themselves. It’s not their fault, being exposed to something day after day will no doubt have its effect. But I think it’s important for people to realise that bingeing is not just a fad, it’s not eating a bit too much on a night out. It’s a real problem that people spend years trying to recover from.