You’re in your kitchen and you can feel a binge coming on. You’ve started with your pre-binge, unsatisfying routine of trying to eat something you approve of but you start to think about the ice cream your loved one brought home that’s sitting in the freezer. You try to ignore the first thought of having it and eat something “healthy” you won’t feel guilty about later on, but you still aren’t satisfied. You can feel then tension in your jaw, in your stomach as you reach for the ice cream. You tell yourself that you’ll only eat a couple scoops this time and then put it away. But after a couple of tastes you start to feel yourself lose control.
You might as well eat the entire thing because you’ve already broken the rules! You’ve already failed and had a horrible day, might as well eat what you can now. So you eat, and then you eat and you eat some more. You eat quickly but don’t even realize how fast you are consuming it. Before you know it you hit the bottom of the pint of ice cream and take the very last bit. But at this point, you don’t even taste it.
You throw away the carton, probably covering it up with something else in the trash so no one else will know what you just did. Your stomach is bloated, you feel exhausted. You need to go lay down. And the self-defeating, critical voice in your head begins to get louder and louder. And this voice can go on and on for the rest of the day. You start to compromise with your critical voice,No, no you don’t understand! I won’t eat tomorrow. That will make up for today, I promise! No matter what happens tomorrow I’ll only have a salad at dinner and that’s it! I’m never doing this again.
Why is it that you suffer all those hard consequences after you’re done eating but you never even get to actually taste or enjoy the ice cream? It’s because that entire event was never about the ice cream. It was about the underlying emotions that were being suppressed while you were eating the ice cream. It’s about the restriction that occurred for days or weeks before that very moment. The ice cream never did and never will matter. It’s the critical voice you hear while you are eating that matters, it’s the restriction you promise yourself after eating that matters. It’s the deprivation your body experiences day in and day out that matters. That’s why you never taste that last drop of ice cream, because at that point the ice cream is irrelevant.
There is hope at the end of all of this!
There is good news: there is another way to live your life. I know it may seem like there is no other way when you are in the trenches of struggling with binge eating. But there’s a way out, a light at the end of it all. But it doesn’t occur by just reading this post. It happens when you reach out for help. When you decide you’ve had enough of living this way and see a therapist and/or dietician for help and start your own journey to healing and recovery.
Danielle Swimm, LCPC: Danielle is a licensed psychotherapist that specializes in treating disordered eating. She has a passion helping others develop a healthy relationship with food. She offers psychotherapy at her Annapolis office for depression, anxiety & disordered eating.