Has your love of food ever turned sour like it did for Confessions of a Compulsive Eater? Today she has the Yum Yucky guest post stage as she takes you through her compulsive eating journey — where she was, where she is now, sharing some of her struggles, and how they’ve improved.
(please comment and share your thoughts….)
My Journey through Compulsive Eating
My journey began when I was about 8 or 9 when something in my head had me thinking that I wasn’t getting enough nurturing from my parents, so I turned to food to give myself comfort. My mom would go to the market, buy junk for the family to enjoy, and then hide it from me. I would scour the house looking for it, but could never find it. I was not overweight, was always playing sports, but she knew that I would never just eat my “fair share” of snacks, and that I would not leave enough for the rest of the family to enjoy.
My mom’s message to me (which of course I didn’t understand until 30 years later in therapy when I was trying to get to the heart of my eating issues) was that I was not to be trusted around food. At around that time, when no one was home, I began my ritual of going around the corner to the market, buy bags of junk food, eat it all, then stuff it back into the market bag and bury it in the trash so no one would see what I ate.
Years went past and the binging continued off and on, and subsequently my weight would go up and down. At 5’3” I graduated high school weighing about 152 lbs. I can’t imagine what I would have weighed had I not played all sports during that time.
By Thanksgiving break from college I was up to 172. Cue the 20-year montage… lots of binging, my weight yo-yo’ing up and down, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, no backbone, but almost always on a regular regime of working out.
By my late 20’s I met the incredible man who I was lucky enough to marry and have two beautiful children with. I weighed about 142 when we met. (Interesting how I always know my weight at different times in my life!) Though he gave me the love and nurturing I had been missing for so many years, my compulsive overeating habits had sadly already been deeply engrained. All those years I thought I just had a “sweet tooth.” All the times I would stuff myself to the point of sickness or eat things in secret; for some reason it never occurred to me that I had some kind of food problem. It was just my norm.
It wasn’t until a little over two years ago, when I was close to turning 40, that the idea of “compulsive overeater” popped into my head. I quickly went on my laptop and found myself at the Overeaters Anonymous website. They have a list of questions called, something to the effect of –“are you one of us?” I answered just about everything with a “yes” and the reality of what had been going on all these years had finally hit me. It was terrifying, yet at the same time comforting, to know my food issues had a name and better yet, I could now get help for myself.
The first thing I did was sit down and write a long letter to my husband spilling my guts about this disease that I realized that I had. In that letter I shared all of my food secrets and behaviors. It was all very shameful to me, yet at the same time it was a huge catharsis. I shed MANY tears over MANY days about this.
I remember hearing on Oprah that any addiction is just someone’s way of filling a void in their lives and I also remember her saying on another show that when you seriously cry, it is your body finally releasing feelings that you have stuffed down (in my case with food) for many years. So back then, and still today, I feel very strongly about being honest and accountable with my food intake.
So then the real journey began. For me, honesty, embracing my eating disorder, getting therapy, going to OA meetings and continuing to exercise is what has turned my life around.
I have not binged in over two years. I have certainly had some slips here and there where I went a little overboard in my eating, but it never resulted in me eating everything in the house that was not nailed down, as had been the case in the past. The mindset of – well, I already blew it by eating too much of xyz, might as well keep going – has not happened in over two years. I have gotten down to a weight that I have never seen before in my adult life and I have maintained it for over a year now. I feel good when I look in the mirror at my body.
I am a work in progress, learning new things every day via journaling, my therapist and the wonderful blogging community. I am always on the look-out for new “tools” for my tool belt to help me to become closer to being a “normal” eater. I know I will never have a totally normal relationship with food, but I am going to do all I can, now that I have this awareness, to get as close as I can.
I certainly still have a lot of issues that I deal with every day. I have been a calorie counter ever since I was a teenager and that is really hard to give up. I worry what my kids see when I’m weighing and measuring my food. I know they are sponges and are taking in much more than I think. The last thing I would want to do is pass on an eating disorder to my children.
Things have gotten a little easier over the last two years as I have learned a lot about myself. But every day, depending on hormones, sleep, and stress, is a struggle to some degree. I am trying to nurture myself more and have more awareness of what and when I eat, trying to listen to my body’s cues of when I’m hungry and sated. I am a work in progress, trying to take things one day at a time.
If you would like to read more about my daily struggles of being a compulsive eater in recovery, I invite you to check out my blog at www.confessionsofacompulsiveeater.com.
Who I Am…
Happily married with two kids, I feel like discovering that I was a compulsive overeater almost two years ago was a giant stepping stone in my personal growth as a woman. Even being binge-free for over two years, every day is a struggle. My gym workouts help to keep me sane and give me balance.
Related Guest Post: The Other Side of the Scale (overcoming anorexia)