The Binge Eating Diaries: Did I Just Binge or Overeat?

By Jacki Monaco on 10/04/2012
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Binge Eating and Overeating | Paying attention to what you eat to prevent bingeing

Jacki Monaco

Even though I haven’t had what I qualify as a binge since I left Green Mountain, this does not mean I have magically acquired perfect eating habits. I still overeat more than I would like (these things take time, people). It’s hard to find a balance between sustaining life with food and harming ourselves with it. This being said, several of you have asked how I differentiate between a binge and overeating.

For me, this is what a binge feels like.

I have waited all day, dreamed of this moment, and now, here it is just like I imaged. In front of me is half of the pot of pasta I just cooked, which equates to 1/2 pound of angel hair — just for me. To the right of it sits two frozen-to-warm chicken patties. To the left I’ve placed 3 candy bars, a grocery-store tray of sushi, a bottle of wine, a slice of pre-packaged cake, and a bag of Doritos.

I’ve hyped up this moment all day, so I have to make sure it’s perfect. It is perfect… until I shove the first bite into my throat, avoiding my taste buds completely. It is perfect… until 12 minutes later I’ve vacuumed all of that food into my body, never tasting a bite or enjoying a moment. I was trying to numb my feelings, but now I’m sad. The kind of sad that makes me question the point of my life, cry until there is no breath left, throw up (not because I’ve purged) because my body couldn’t hold all of the food I force-fed it. Humiliated, I head straight back to the fridge for more self-sabotaging, punishing myself for eating by making myself even more miserable… with even more food.

For me, this is what overeating looks and feels like:

I am so excited for this meal that I have prepared. The fresh chicken all crisp and brown from it’s extra virgin olive oil fry, the frozen spinach finally unthawed, the bright green pepper and juicy onion sautéing before my eyes, and the organic mac n’ cheese that will soon be flooded with canned stewed tomatoes. I have so earned this meal. (Skip to consumption.) This sh*t isn’t half bad from a girl who’s been cooking for about 6 months of her life. Ok, maybe a litttttle more mac n’ cheese. It’s too good, and there are tomatoes in it, so I have justification… (Skip to post-consumption). Ok, I’m full… a little too full for comfort. Second helping was unnecessary. Ok self, next time, let’s tone it down a noodle or six.

When I binge, I am hyper-emotional pre-binge, emotionless while binging, and frighteningly hyper-emotional post-binge. When I overeat, I am excited pre-food (but it’s not my only excitement of the day), I enjoy eating and actually tasting my food, and then I might experience a little physical and emotional discomfort post-food.

Now that I have figured out how to cook a little, I HAVE to pay attention to what I’m eating. I see the colors, I smell the smells, I don’t just inhale the food like we’re both victims. Instead we sit down together for a meal. I want to enjoy what I’ve just put so much effort into. Just like with everything else, it’s different for everyone, this is personally how I experience both situations.

Do you feel there’s a difference? Do you have a problem differentiating between binge eating and overeating?

5 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Ryan says:

    I definitely agree that there is a difference. To me, the feeling of a binge is unmistakeable. I have never really had planned binges because my entire days used to be a struggle against trying not to do it…and then at the last second I would give in. It is like an insatiable hunger. It doesn’t feel like normal every day hunger though. I used to compare it to being possessed by a demon. In all honestly, I felt somewhat crazy because when a binge was coming on, my mind was completely consumed and it was very difficult to focus on anything else. It was like an extreme anxiety. And then the feeling after is the worst feeling…shame, guilt, disgust, self loathing, hopelessness, failure.

    I think that these types of experiences can haunt us a bit….like any time we eat a little too much at a meal, we panic a bit and ask ourselves “did I just binge? Is it happening again?” Maybe it just takes a little while to learn to trust ourselves and know that we really are okay. Overeating may be unpleasant, but it is not the end of the world. Everyone does it sometimes. We shouldn’t expect ourselves to be perfect. We are all in a continual state of progress, and that’s a good thing.

    Thanks for sharing, as always Jacki :)

  • Deborah says:

    Yes definitely. Like you, I plan for a binge – there’s a lot of ceremony around it… overeating is something I don’t necessarily MEAN to do.

    Deb

    • Lisa says:

      Agreed, Deborah. A lot of ceremony or ritual around a binge. It was definitely something I planned to do. Looked forward to. Coordinated my evening around. It was an event.

  • Jace says:

    Ryan- Obsessed by a demon is such a perfect vision. I have been taunted over and over again by that demon. And yes, the memory of binging and the feelings haunt us and make us question our sanity time and time again. Thank you so much for commenting Ryan. You described the pain yet a wonderfully positive outlook. I love this line you wrote, “just takes a little while to learn to trust ourselves and know that we really are okay.” Thank you for sharing <3

    Deborah & Lisa- Yes, yes, and yes. Binging for me does seem to demand a ceremony or ritual. It's so personal for me, almost like I owe a binge some kind of offering as if I was in a cult with food.

    ALL OF US – It's interesting to see the words we've all used here- Ryan chose the words "demon and haunt" Deborah you wrote "ceremony" as did Lisa coupled with "ritual." All of these words are so powerful. Binging can have some powerful effects, as is obvious when described with such intense vocabulary by those of us who have experienced its power. Such a big step is taking the power away from binging and giving it back to ourselves!

  • [...] A crucial distinction – the difference between a binge and overeating. [...]

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