Acknowledging the Legitimacy of Binge Eating Disorder

By Jacki Monaco on 07/05/2013
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overcoming binge eatingMaybe one reason I have self-bullied for so long is that I grew to believe what the rest of the world was saying…or not saying.

Until this month, Binge Eating Disorder was a secret – free of a definition, uncategorized, and ignored. Until this month, I was diagnosed with at eating disorder that wasn’t really an eating disorder because it had yet to receive the stamp of approval by the American Psychological Association. It’s rather difficult to understand your own feelings toward an “imaginary” disorder, so I questioned myself, which turned to judgment and morphed into a very non-imaginary bully.

I have bullied myself for so long for doing what I did – for using food to cope and then using more food to cope with the fact that I was using food to cope.

If everyone else was saying that binging was just an excuse to eat the wrong foods, gain weight without blame, and self-loathe…then why wouldn’t I grow to feel the same about myself in a world where, whether we like it or not, opinions seem to matter…too much. The APA’s recognition of Binge Eating Disorder in the DSM-V is empowering to us and frustrating as hell to our bullies. We finally have a universal understanding that we didn’t make up a reason to eat too much – we ate too much for a reason.

I have bullied myself for so long for doing what I did – for using food to cope and then using more food to cope with the fact that I was using food to cope. Confusing, right? Well I confused myself right into a rubber band ball of emotions, edibles, and emptiness.

As I slowly pull off one rubber band at a time, I’m getting closer to the nucleus of self-forgiveness. One step closer to confronting my bully and telling her where to stuff it; reminding her that just because my disorder didn’t have an accepted explanation, doesn’t mean it wasn’t real. Everything I have felt and dealt with has been real to my mind, my body, and my heart. I should never have needed to see it in print, but I’m thankful that other bullies, internal and external, now have a reference and that we now have a voice.

Do you find that the stigma around weight, food, and diagnoses, fuel your inner bully?

6 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Harriet Krivit says:

    I DON’T HAVE AN INNER BULLY…I JUST HAVE A PAINFUL LIFE LONG GRAZING/BINGE EATING DISORDER. I HAVE GREAT COMPASSION FOR ALL THOSE SUFFERING WITH THIS DISORDER
    INCLUDING MYSELF. EACH DAY IS A NEW DAY OF LOOKING FORWARD TO AND TRYING TO SUPPORT MYSELF IN SIMPLY HAVING A COMFORTABLE DAY VIS A VIS EATING, THAT IS EATING ANY FOOD THAT I CHOOSE, BUT FOR WANT OF A BETTER WORD, MODERATELY.
    YET STILL NEVER FEELING DEPRIVED. FULLNESS AS A GUIDE HAD ALWAYS ELUDED ME. STOPPING EATING ANYTHING ONCE STARTED IS LIKE CLIMBING “EVEREST”. I GIVE MYSELF MUCH PRAISE WHEN I DO…AND ALWAYS TRY TO LEARN FROM ANY SUCCESS TO HELP MYSELF IN THIS STRUGGLE.

    • Jace says:

      Thank you so much for sharing with us Harriet. Your comment about Everest definitely resonates with me. It’s amazing that you’re able to give yourself praise, or kudos, when you are able to control a binge or graze. It’s so important to take note of our achievements, not just punish ourselves for the hard days. Thank you again for sharing!

  • Leslie Ann Farrar says:

    I have a question or maybe an observation. I’m an alcoholic in recovery. I’m also a person who gets addicted to almost anything in no time at all. I was diagnosed with Manic Depression, aka Bipolar Disorder many years ago and took meds for many years. But, I didn’t like being “zoned out” all the time so slowly, I weaned myself off the lithium. Over the years, I have had many discussions with friends in recovery as well as doctors and other medical professionals who tend to agree with me that addiction of any sort is really a mental illness that involves very low serotonin levels in the brain resulting in cravings for anything that will alleviate that situation. Alcoholism/addiction may be simply a way of self-medicating to alleviate the problems of low serotonin! In my personal research, I learned that the brain produces serotonin best by using carbohydrates ingested. Proteins ingested will produce serotonin as well but not as easily and sometimes, not at all. Exercise, which also makes the brain produce serotonin, is my “drug of choice” right now because it isn’t fattening and I feel no guilt when exercising. My question is, Why doesn’t the medical profession recognize this and respond accordingly, i.e. prescribing low levels of lithium or high levels of exercise for people with addictive difficulties? It seems to me that cravings for carbs or binge eating is related to this low serotonin problem. I mean, we usually don’t binge eat big portions of meat. Our binges usually involve eating massive amounts of carbs!!

    • Jace says:

      Hi Leslie!

      First of all- congratulations on being in recovery. Taking that step is such an incredible accomplishment and I’m so thankful that you shared that with us. It’s truly inspirational.

      Second of all- What a thorough well-thought out comment, written so eloquently and with such great questions. My name is Jace and I wrote this particular blog. Unfortunately I don’t feel equipped enough to answer the question “why doesn’t the medical profession recognize this and respond accordingly.” This is a question that I think a lot of us would love to know the answer to. I agree that all addictions are related in some form or another and that addiction itself, while it blossoms out of many situations and circumstances, has its roots in a similar place in all of us- whether or not we are affected (and how we are) is a different story. I myself was a binge eater for two years. I’ve been in recovery for almost two years as well, but the difficulties, urges, and frustrations still come knocking. Pending on our personalities, circumstances, and genetic makeups I believe we all go in search of different things that make us feel good…or better.

      You are absolutely right about the foods that I personally used to binge. Carbs have always been my go-to binge foods because they’re comforting and because they’re “naughty.” While I have binged on healthy foods before, it was a very rare occurrence. I didn’t get the same satisfaction by binging on foods that fed my body because I was only ever trying to feed my mind and fill my emotions.

      Food addiction and alcohol addiction are not strangers to each other, in my non-professional opinion. While I don’t have as much trouble with alcohol as I do with food, I was still very prone to binge drinking during my binging eating days. I, too have found comfort in exercising and use it as my new healthier escape from the hard days and even the unfamiliar territory of happiness with these new “good days”. It’s difficult not to replace old addictions with new addictions, no matter what they are, because we’ve allotted new space in us that we think we need to fill instead of heal.

      I’m sorry that I can’t answer your question, but I want to reiterate how inspiring it is to our readers that you’ve shared your story with us and that you’re beginning your personal road to recovery. I hope you feel that this is a safe please to share your thoughts and feelings and that you continue to read and comment.

      Thank you again for sharing Leslie,

      Jace

    • Marsha Hudnall says:

      It sounds like you are a good advocate for yourself, Leslie. That’s so important when we’re dealing with any kind of problem, let alone a medical one. As to your question about the medical profession, I can’t really answer it well either. Except to say that I imagine how to effectively treat addictions is probably still so dependent on the individual — what works for one person may not always work for another. My encouragement for anyone struggling with a chronic problem is to find a professional who treats patients as individuals and helps them figure out what’s right for them. Certainly, what you suggest sounds like a good thing to try, but then again, I’m not a psychiatrist so that’s just me speculating and I have no idea if there would be any risks involved. Thanks for your comment!

  • […] said it was not at all uncommon to go from one compulsion on to another. She reminded me that in overcoming binge eating, I had learn to eat mindfully. And so Darla suggested that I begin my next shopping experience with […]

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