I recently started an “Intensive Outpatient Program” for Binge Eating Disorder. I’ve been a compulsive overeater for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I kept my weight under control by dancing and teaching dance but as I got older, the binging became more frequent, and the weight continued to creep up. I’ve gone up and down with the ups lasting longer than the downs. With each down, I rebounded up higher than before. I always knew it was a problem and I would frequently say I was “addicted” to food, but I never really thought about what that word meant.
Addiction is rampant in my family: alcohol, meth, heroin, etc. I always thought these were “real” addictions. Those were the ones that required absolute abstinence. You can’t abstain from food so food addiction is different but, honestly, not so much.
My program talks about “recovery” but what really hit me was one of the “tips” I got: Make a decision that you aren’t going to do this behavior anymore. When I first read it, I was terrified. Stop???? Just stop? But then I thought about my daughter who just stopped using meth. My dad stopped drinking alcohol. They did it even though it was hard. It was easy to stand in judgement of them while they were using. I would think, “why do they keep drinking/using drugs when it’s causing such damage?” I didn’t understand blowing up your life for a drug. Now, I do.
I’m destroying my life with overeating. It’s literally killing me. I have severe gastroparesis and if I continue to damage my stomach, I’m looking at feeding tubes and losing the ability to absorb nutrients. I’m in nearly continuous pain and frequently nauseous. My weight is at a level where it’s hard to move and stairs are painful. I live with guilt and shame. I’m no better than the addict on the street even when I like to think I am.
So, I’m making the decision to stop the behavior, one day at a time. I have my treatment group and I’m learning coping skills that don’t involve food. It’s challenging because I can’t just stop eating but I CAN stop my behavior of binge eating. I used to think food was all I had but then my dietician gave us a coping skills handout with nearly 100 options to overeating. My eating may be out of control right now, but I have a choice. I can choose health over chaos. My group believes in “health at any size”. It’s not about getting skinny but instead about getting my life back. I don’t yet know what kind of “control” I’ll have but I do know I’ll have peace. I won’t be hiding my behavior anymore.
Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash