Saturday, June 2, 2018

Binge Eating: BMI = 27.4

Yes, I was a binge-eater. Yes, I felt ashamed about it. I tried so hard to control my eating but several nights a week I just couldn’t take it anymore and I found myself across the street buying a double pack of double cheeseburgers or a large bag of snack mix. If I managed to control myself until the corner store closed, I often wound up making a chicken nugget sandwich.

I used to source my proteins from the discount freezer at the discount grocery store. These nuggets are very unhealthy. Almost half the calories come from fat, less than 16% of the calories come from protein, and the rest come from highly refined carbs and dextrose. By the time I slammed 4 nuggets into a sandwich with red onion and mayonnaise, my late night ‘snack’ would deliver around 700 calories, with half of those calories coming from fat. Did I mention that I often made a second, and occasionally a third sandwich? On nights when I ate a third one I would roll around in bed half the night feeling sick.

So why did I do it? I now know that I did it because I was starving. I had become so conditioned to high calorie-density food that I became averse to low calorie-density food like vegetables. Vegetables are very nutrient dense, but that doesn’t appeal to someone who is conditioned to eating a lot of comfort food. Without proper nutrition, I found losing weight to be impossible. Intellectually I knew what the problem was but emotionally I just couldn’t face up to it. Rather than correcting my diet, I just tried to starve myself all day – although I rarely succeeded.

I felt most in control in the morning, so I would skip breakfast. I would go as long as I could without eating and when I finally couldn’t take it anymore I typically grabbed a slice of pizza or some poutine at work. Having broken down and eaten something that was unhealthy, I just kind of said ‘screw it’ and spent the rest of the day nibbling on cheese, stray fries, and other calorie dense food – but I avoided having a meal because I was trying not to eat.

It was almost impossible for me to avoid the corner store as I arrived home, so I would try to limit myself to one pepperoni stick or maybe a small can of soda. I still refused to eat a meal even though I was still snacking on unhealthy food. By the time the corner store was closing, my willpower was eroded. It’s not as though my stomach was rumbling and my blood sugar was low – but I had spent all day trying, and failing, to avoid eating anything significant.

I now eat very substantial, yet healthy, meals. In an earlier post I discussed the importance of breakfast. For me, binge-eating was a side effect of skipping meals and trying not to eat. It was also the result of letting myself become conditioned to eating only high calorie-density foods and averse to nutrient-rich foods like vegetables. I had to put myself through a dietary rehab to learn to eat properly again. Everyone who has told me that they are a binge-eater has also admitted to skipping meals; most people brag about it, starting their sentence with, “Well, ALL I ate yesterday was...”

Eat for your health rather than starving for your vanity.

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