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True Life Tuesday Blog Party: Binge eating disorder

Posted May 08 2012 1:19pm

Maybe I’m having a little bit of withdrawal from HAWMC and can’t resist the urge to take on a blog prompt. Or maybe I’m a bit crazy. In any event I’m taking on the challenge of today’s prompt for the blog party.

Prompt: You Think You Know…

You think you know, but you have no idea…” Sound familiar? The Mtv show “True Life” (and Diary) puts a face to many life events – so we’re using the tagline as part of this month’s mission to combat misconceptions…those things that others think they know about you and your condition, but they have no idea.

You think you know, but you have no idea what it means to have an eating disorder. I’m not anorexic, but I’m certainly a compulsive overeater, someone with binge eating disorder. Since May is mental health awareness month, I want people to know that it’s no laughing matter to have an addiction to food. Since I was at least 16, I’ve struggled with eating ice cream straight out of the carton until all vestiges of the contents disappeared. Having this dysfunction is a lonely place, with feelings of constant guilt and self-loathing.

My metabolism is such that my body has not really reflected all the addictive eating I do, even as I approach my sixties. Yet there it is: my secret is out.

In one manifestation of this disorder, the sufferer convinces himself/herself to buy a quantity of ice cream bars or candy, with the notion that these foods will be consumed only one or two at a time. Additional incentives to buy these junk foods include after-holiday sales and “buy-one-get-one-free” gimmicks. Before he/she realizes it, the entire package is emptied and trashed. If the disorder includes an addiction for chocolate, forget buying chocolate chips for baking cookies in the future. They won’t make it past the first day on the shelf.

In such a life, these phrases ring true:  Secret stashes. Empty packages hidden by rubbish. Vomiting. Desperation.

Recognizing my problem, my husband and sons would try to lock up or hide candy and cookies they brought into the house. Yet none of these measures stopped me from the addiction. People don’t realize that food is just as addicting to some people as crack cocaine or alcohol.

Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder:

1. Eating much more quickly than you should at each episode.

2. Eating until you are uncomfortably full or sick. What is full? Sometimes only reaching a state of sickness lets you know.

3. Eating large amounts of food when you are not really hungry.

4. Eating alone because you are embarrassed about all the food you eat.

5. Feeling disgusted, depressed or guilty after overeating.

I’ve never sought help for this condition, believing I could stop any time I wanted by exercising that all-illusive myth called willpower. But I know better. Through self-help resources, support groups, therapy and behavior modification–such as journaling to discover eating patterns–I can alter those destructive habits permanently. I can avoid the onset of diabetes and other unwelcome conditions. I don’t need those illnesses on top of my two bouts with cancer and lymphedema.

So my advice? Be honest with yourself and assess which of the above five symptoms you might have. Take this quiz . Find an Overeaters Anonymous group in your area or seek professional help if you believe you have a problem. If you think you have a problem with food, you probably do.

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