a hope design

It’s not about the food!

In Being Healthy on March 10, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Coming to the conclusion that I am a compulsive eater did not happen in a “Eureka!” moment. The idea drifted around in my mind, floating to the surface here and there over the years.

I kept asking why.

There are many aspects to eating disorders, and most don't have anything to do with food.

Most eating disorders have little to do with food.

Why am I ashamed of eating in front of people? Why do I eat foods when I am stressed that I normally would not – and then feel extreme guilt? Why do I feel like I need to hide my food? Why do I sometimes feel like there is never enough to satisfy me, no matter how much I eat? Why do I feel desperate to get the particular food I crave? Why do I wish there were a magic food that I could eat all day long and never feel full? Isn’t feeling full the purpose of eating? What is the purpose of my eating if I hate feeling full?

Why do I not really care about food when I’m happy, rested and relaxed? Why do I forget about food when I’m captivated by something I’m doing?

Is this normal? Is this serious? Is this even about food? Am I crazy?

I read lots of “Signs and Symptoms of Compulsive/Binge Eating” lists. Here’s an example:

Signs of binge eating disorder

Ask yourself the following questions. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you have binge eating disorder.

  • Do you feel out of control when you’re eating?
  • Do you think about food all the time?
  • Do you eat in secret?
  • Do you eat until you feel sick?
  • Do you eat to escape from worries, relieve stress, or to comfort yourself?
  • Do you feel disgusted or ashamed after eating?
  • Do you feel powerless to stop eating, even though you want to?

I can remember eating in secret as a kid. I remember the shame I felt about eating. At age eight, I learned that eating is bad. It happened during a well-intended teaching moment by a person who loved me very much. The talk was meant to help me, but the lesson that my kid-brain took from the words has been a battle and a burden for me for 31 years.

I built up the courage to buy a book. I wasn’t ready to admit to having a problem, but I would read about it.

In 2012, I read Breaking Free from Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth. I hid the book because I was embarrassed to be seen reading about eating disorders, but I couldn’t put it down. Every page resonated with me. Have you ever had one of those, “Wow! Someone out there is just like me,” moments? It was as if I felt that realization with every paragraph.

I began to understand that compulsive eating has little to do with food. It’s about feelings.

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