DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH BINGE-EATING? Me too.
Over the past year of helping women live healthier lives so they can regain their confidence and live a more fulfilling life, I’ve learned SO much about myself. Isn’t it crazy what can happen when we focus on helping others? But the truth is that about 6 months ago, I stopped seeing results and, as it turns out, I’ve been struggling too. As I listened to more personal development, and I researched to learn more and more about my own health, I’ve come to recognize a few things. First of all, I have an unhealthy relationship with food. I eat to relieve stress or to “relax” and according to the research I’ve done, food can be an addiction. Armed with that info, I can now say with almost certainty that I am addicted to certain foods. This leads to my second realization-my problem with binge eating several nights each week, and then feeling SO guilty about it for days. I LOVE desserts. As soon as my brain gets a bite of sugar, it immediately says “MOREMOREMOREMORE!” and next thing I know, I’ve eaten 3 slices of cake. Did you know that sugar and cocaine affect the same areas of your brain? Except you can give up cocaine forever-you can’t give up food. You need to eat to survive, and that makes food addiction different than any other. For me, I can sometimes go weeks or even a couple of months without a binge-if I’m really focused. But it always seems inevitable that I will fall off the proverbial wagon. Did you know that 90% of women who suffer from food addiction were abused in some way as children? This can be sexual, physical, or emotional abuse-and that was when I knew that I had (have) a deeper issue than wanting to eat half a tray of brownies. I’ve been eating to comfort myself…for YEARS. My first memory of doing this in middle school. After school I would come home, sit on the couch and watch TV, and EAT. I would make brownies and eat half the batter before it made it into the oven. I would stuff my face with chips. My mom never kept a lot of junk in the house, but I was creative.
WHAT HAPPENED? Why did I need to self-soothe with food? Well. I didn’t realize it at the time…actually, I didn’t realize the depths of this until JUST NOW. But, the eating started in middle school-and you know what else started in middle school? I was bullied. I’ve briefly mentioned this before, but I’m going to elaborate a bit more in case others can relate. From the first day of 6th grade when I stepped onto the school bus, so excited for middle school, there were 4 girls on that bus that TORTURED me. They were one year older than I was, and this went on for YEARS. It affected everything-I couldn’t try out for the soccer team (even though my 6th grade gym teacher told me I should, because I was GOOD) because they played soccer. Once, they poured hot chocolate over my head (!!!!) on the bus on the way to school. They threatened to put Nair in my hair. One time, on the way home, the bus driver had to TURN THE BUS AROUND and go back to the school to drop me off because the entire bus was picking on me in unison. They picked on everything from my last name, to my facial expressions, to my socks. In high school it got a little better, but it still continued somewhat until they graduated. And I NEVER SAID A WORD. I never stood up for myself, I never said anything. My mom just told me to ignore them and they would go away. It’s actually shocking to me, now, that I never said ANYTHING…because anyone who knows me now, knows that I have NO issues speaking my mind. But still, one of my biggest regrets was not telling them to shove it on that very first day of 6th grade. SEVEN YEARS of being bullied is a lot for a teenager to internalize. And ever since then, I have always felt somewhat “less than”…and that habit of eating for comfort has stuck with me. The feeling I get when I’m binge-ing is hard to explain-it’s almost like I’m not tasting the food so much as I’m experiencing the textures. I like soft, chewy things. I like the way they slide down my throat-but I’ve noticed that as time goes on, I need to eat more and more to finally feel “full.” One cupcake is no longer enough.
IS THIS FOR REAL? I’m not severely overweight, so you might be wondering-am I serious? But yes. I’m serious. I have roughly 40lbs to lose still, and the weight I’m currently at is 170lbs. For my height and weight, 130 is about an average healthy weight give or take a few pounds. I have been stuck at this weight for the last 6 months at least. This is also the weight I was stuck at before I got pregnant. It’s where my body is comfortable. It’s where I can workout enough to be able to keep up my “habit” of bingeing a couple times a week and not gain more. So, OK-I was bullied when I was a teenager, and now I’m 32. SO WHAT? Well…I agree! That’s why it’s taken me so long to realize what a deep effect that had on me. I don’t want to dwell on the past, nor do I hold any ill feelings towards those that bullied me. I’m only sharing so you can see that abuse comes in many, many forms and everyone copes differently.
WHAT’S NEXT? Well, in my research I’ve come across an amazing book that I firmly believe will help me battle this addiction. The first step (which I started today) is DETOX. For some, this may seem drastic, but I know that I cannot keep putting this amount of food/sugar into my body and remain healthy. I don’t know if this means I can never again eat a brownie without falling back into this pattern-only time can tell that. But I do know that I cannot put myself, or my future children at risk by continuing to eat this way the next time I get pregnant (God-willing). I know that it will be hard and I might have slip ups, but I truly believe I can recover from this and live a life where I don’t have to hide my eating habits.
Sharing this is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Especially when I’m supposed to be inspiring others? I would rather portray the image of having it all together. But let’s face it-NOBODY has it all together!!! Definitely not me. I do the best that I can. When I realized that I wasn’t “weak” and it’s not that I have no willpower-but instead that I’m ADDICTED….I felt free. I felt BETTER. I felt like I finally had found a solution to a problem I’ve been dealing with for years. So…if this helps someone else, then it’s worth the embarrassment it causes me to share something so personal. For me, I no longer feel helpless. If you feel you’re struggling with food addiction(s), you are not alone. I have a plan-and, as always, I’ll be documenting my journey with 100% honesty. If you’d like to follow along with me, you can add me as a friend on Facebook, subscribe to my Youtube Channel, or send me an email (rayapickett at gmail dot com). And of course-thanks for reading!