Posts tagged with 'eating disorders'

Blog Party For Mental Health: an eating disorder revisited

  • Posted on May 16, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Marie at Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer has challenged us bloggers to focus on mental health today, May 16, 2012. She is following the recommendation of the American Psychological Association, which has asked bloggers to stress the importance of this topic.

Today I address the challenge of making lifestyle and behavioral changes when a person suffers from binge eating disorder. Last week I wrote a post for a different blog party about my own compulsive overeating disorder.  It’s certainly a stigma. No one wants to be discovered polishing off a complete quart of ice cream. And yet that’s what many do. It’s a rocky road that leads to a perdition of nausea and chocolate hangovers.

To break that behavior, I’ve found small changes in behavior make a big difference. Here are some of my tips:

1. Journaling. I keep a record of when I eat, what I eat and how I feel when I eat.

2. Avoiding the trigger foods. I take a detour from grocery and drugstore aisles lined with my hot-button sweets: ice cream, candy and cookies. I bypass the bins in the front of stores filled with post-holiday candy on sale. If I do happen to linger at one of these places and pick up bags at 50% off, I will myself to put them back. I picture in my mind how I will feel when I gulp down a bag in one sitting. I dispel the myth that I can eat only one or two and be satisfied.

3. Determining the trigger. When a compulsion overtakes me, I try to determine the emotion that’s prompting me to eat when I’m not hungry. Am I lonely? Bored? Angry? Depressed? Stressed over a deadline? Whatever it is, instead of running to a destructive comfort food, I take a run outside, go to the gym, call a friend, or, if the weather is really nice, head for the community pool. Nothing like being seen in a bathing suit to motivate one to cut down the calories.

4. Using an accountability partner.  Whenever junk food starts to call my name, I call my girlfriend, who assures me I can get through this. She walks me through the urge until I’m “safe” on the other side.

5. Finding a counselor/therapist. A private therapist can help the struggling person get to the root of the problem and pursue lifestyle modifications.

6. Finding a local Overeaters Anonymous group. These support groups can add to the accountability factor and provide additional tips and motivation to stave off temptations.

7. Seeking a residential or day treatment center. These facilities may be just the ticket to provide an environment conducive to tackling such disorders.

8. Googling “compulsive eating disorder” to see what other options and tips might pop up.

Unless people really understand this addiction, they tend to judge those of us suffering from this plague. Some say we do it to block out pain, just as alcoholics and sex addicts do. Some say we are trying to punish our mate by getting fat. Or we do it to sabotage ourselves so we won’t be too attractive and lure the wrong people into our lives. Maybe some of these reasons are valid. But many are not. Most people without the addiction just don’t get it. A little compassion here, a little mercy there, would go a long way.

If you know someone with this addiction, just listen for a while. Try to see if you can walk in their shoes for a mile. If you are able, offer to be an accountability partner or find online or offline resources to provide behavior-altering assistance. Or give the person a list of local counselors who can offer guidance through and past the addiction over time.

There is hope. Never doubt it.



True Life Tuesday Blog Party: Binge eating disorder

  • Posted on May 8, 2012 at 10:19 am

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.