The Binge Eating Diaries: Before There Were Calories


As a child, calories didn’t exist.

binge eating diaries before there were caloriesFood was exactly what it was supposed to be – delicious and nutritious. As a child, eating was fun. It was an activity. Treats were treats. My mom tricked me into thinking that apples and watermelon were candy. And my taste buds believed the lie… with pleasure.

As a child, as long as my clothes were bright colors – I didn’t care what size they were. As a child, if I was running around catching fireflies, throwing a softball, or rolling down a hill – I didn’t care what anyone else was thinking about how I looked. I loved how I felt. As a child, I was oblivious. I wasn’t a happy idiot. I was just…happy.

As a child, I understood the true meaning of pleasure – especially when it came to food and movement. I smelled. I tasted. I ran. I jumped.

As I got older, the magic started to fade.

Food started to take on a different meaning entirely. Moving my body became exercise. Exercise became work.

As I got older, I started reading labels, counting pounds and eating more or less than my body needed. As I got older, I started trading in my bright colors for dark, “flattering” hues. The magazines promised they would fool people into thinking I was thinner. And that thinner was better. And that if I was better – people would like me. And if people liked me – I’d be happy again.

Read This Related Article:
Is Your Child Inspired By Thin?

As I got older, I stopped playing and I started worrying. I worry all the time. And now, I worry that I worry too much. As I got older, I stopped listening to my inner child – no matter how loudly and violently she screamed:

What happened to happiness? What happened to our relationship with food, movement, and our bodies?

The Culture Shock of Weight Stigma

One morning, when we woke up and opened our eyes, we saw the world differently. Why? Because we realized that the people in our world were starting to see us differently. I didn’t start binge eating until college, when I used food to help me get through a very difficult time in my life.

But I’ve been emotionally eating since I was old enough to “understand” that what I looked like “really, really mattered” according to the culture that we live in.

I was in sixth grade when I first felt judged – not for my talents, my ambition, my personality… but for my size. I had two best friends the year before, both of whom were petite, pretty, and adored. For my age, I was tall, big boned and I didn’t quite fit in that trio any longer.

I stood out in all the wrong ways like the short straw… only I was the extra big straw. (A fat Boba straw if you will.) These girls banned me from the popular triangle and sent me to the Bermuda Triangle.

I was lost. I couldn’t find myself and I couldn’t understand how it took just one summer vacation to convince them that all of a sudden… I wasn’t good enough. Almost every day for an entire school year, I got off the bus with tears streaming down my innocent cheeks.

As the comments wore me down and the weeks dragged on, I mentally put the puzzle pieces together. My body, even at such a young age, was unacceptable if I wanted to fit in.

Growing Anxiety Around Food And Body Image

From there, my anxieties about food and my body grew worse. I would tattle on myself if I snuck a piece of cheese during the middle of the night. I called my Mom after school one day to immediately confess that I had eaten not one, but two Pop-Tarts®, for an after-school snack.

The guilt was grander than the caloric content of those two pastries. The guilt was bigger than my body. And avoiding that guilty feeling became my ultimate goal. But I had no idea what was right or wrong, how much to eat, if I should or shouldn’t eat certain things at all.

I knew I loved food, but I hated what I thought food was doing to my image – my body image and my social image. After all… who are we really, if other people don’t like us, acknowledge our value, and accept us?

Well now I know that it doesn’t matter a lick what other people think of me if I can’t accept myself… my entire self. I don’t have to love everything about me, but I can’t keep punishing myself for the things I can’t change (like the miles of stretch marks) or ignoring the things I can change – like my relationship with my inner child.


Give Your Inner Child Back Her Voice

I’ve been trying to lure my inner child out of hiding for years, but she’s scared. And who can blame her? She doesn’t understand why food has to be good or bad. She’s afraid that someone is going to make fun of her for getting frosting all over her face. (If you’re a “big” kid, you shouldn’t be eating a cupcake at all, right?)

She wants to come out and play but not only is she scared of what other people might think or say – she’s scared of me.  She’s afraid that I’m going to berate her for desire for food. She’s worried that I’m going to step on her dreams and make her grow up.

That I’m going to judge her for wanting to wear those bright colors, sing out loud in the grocery store, and dance without rhythm in all the wrong places. And this makes me sad.

As Green Mountain has reminded me time and time again, we wouldn’t dream of treating a loved one, friend, or especially another child the way we treat ourselves and our inner child. So why do we insist that putting ourselves down and removing pleasure from our lives is somehow going to inspire us? Motivate us? Make us happy?

Well, if we’ve been talking down to ourselves for the last 20 years… we can’t expect to change our neural pathways in a mere 20 minutes. But we can start any time we’re ready? And as we do, it’s important to recognize that it’s not just in our heads – these feelings, desires, urges, emotions, confusion. They come from a very real place, and I wonder… if our culture were different, would the way we think and feel about food, our bodies, and movement be different, too?

Would It All Be Different?

If those girls back in sixth grade hadn’t “learned” that size makes a person popular or uncool… would they have treated me like they did? If our society didn’t shove commercials and billboards full of triple sized portions in our faces and THEN shame us for our desires… would guilt play such a huge role in our lives?

And if we no longer felt guilty… would our relationship with food be so upside and backward? And if we were no longer upside down and backwards– would we have more time to feel the way we want to feel instead of trying to look the way we’re “supposed to look.” Would this world be a much different place? Would our inner children still be laughing… instead of hoping that one day we’ll reach out and open up our arms again?

Until next time,


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog. This was a very personal blog for me to write and I’m thankful that you let me share my stories with you today. I truly believe that our culture has played a huge role in the onset of eating disorders. What do you think?

There is help for women struggling with emotional and binge eating disorders.

16 responses to “The Binge Eating Diaries: Before There Were Calories”

  1. Beth Warner says:

    I loved the opening paragraph about children. I had those years when I was in elementary school. Running, playing, laughing. I miss those years. Then in the 4th grade I wore one of my mother’s black Bali large cup bras to school, stuffed with kleenex. I have no idea why. Seemed like that was the end of being a child. I developed breasts early and that translated into fat in my house. I do try to capture that happy, running, playing, laughing person with my trusted friends. Though I do struggle on with my feelings about my body and food. I adopted fat at an early age. It is still there.

    • Jace says:


      Thank you so much for commenting. I completely understand the “growing pains”… wink wink! I, too, grew up (and out) at a young age.

      Capturing the “happy, running, playing, laughing person” can be difficult, but so, so important. That’s incredible that you’re able to do that with your trusted friends… there’s no better place!

      Thank you for sharing pieces of your journey with us. You are inspiring.


  2. blairmize says:

    Such a powerful and moving post. Thank you for writing!

    • Jace says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on this post! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it 🙂

  3. Suzanna says:

    Excellent and very insightful. Feels like I felt too! You’ve hit so many nails on the head it should be in a book to help us all in recovering from this crazy culture.

    • Jace says:


      Thank you so much for your wonderful compliment. It truly made me smile! I’m so glad that you enjoyed this post.


  4. bethturchi says:

    Jacko- I was the mother of that child. Imagine my joy at my pudgy little girl’s gleeful body acceptance turn to heartache as she began to be ridiculed, taunted and internally tortured. Imagine my conflict between bolstering her confidence and promoting self-love while understanding that losing weight was the only thing that would make her “acceptable” to her grade school classmates. Imagine me listening at the bathroom door for the sounds of purging and crying at my sleeping baby’s bedside because the world was hurting her. The most painful part of p parenting, for sure, is not being able to protect your child from the onslaught of what media and society think she “ought” to be.

    • Jace says:


      Thank you so much for your incredibly powerful and beautifully written comment. My heart started beating faster as I read on. I myself am not a parent, but I can’t even imagine what that must feel like. Thank you for being so strong and open with your words.


  5. Deborah says:

    I could really relate to this one Jace. When I was young a family friend once commented on my vivaciousness. “Never lose that,” she said. I remembered this years later while struggling with anorexia. I’d become haunted. No longer vivacious.

    Losing our passion (for) and freedom (to) play is very depressing. I’ve written a few times in my blog about when and how, as kids, we lose our ability to feel awesome no matter what and we learn to judge others by expectations and standards which often aren’t our own.

    And finally – I have a Jennifer Polle recording which is really powerful. She tells us to imagine a young child we love and remind ourselves how protective we are of that child. We’d never let anyone tell them they’re fat or dumb or weak. I imagine a friend’s very expressive 3yr old child. I would be devastated to see his face drop if spoken to like that. Jennifer asks us to remember how protective we feel of that child… then transfer that same feeling onto ourselves to reduce our negative self-talk. I’ve not mastered it, but it’s very powerful.


    • Jace says:


      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your story along with your resource. (I’ll see if I can find it and take a listen!) Your words “I’d become haunted. No longer vivacious” really resonate with me. I was so carefree as a child. I wasn’t just living – I was truly alive. Here’s to getting back to that place. Thank you so much for sharing today.


  6. Erica says:

    This struck me too as well. It was beautifully written, and I identified with it so much. When I was a pre-teen at camp one year, my close friend told me that my body was “funny-looking” in the shower. Man did that stick with me, and I didn’t realize until recently how closely I tied together social acceptance and looks. Being rejected is awful, and when you can pin the blame on your body, no wonder so many of us hate the way we look!

    I also have a young daughter (9) who is bigger than the other kids and really self-conscious. I hope she can avoid what I went through but it is so hard to be the sole voice of “every size is OK” in our society, and for a kid!! Her friends are already saying “I’m fat” and “I have to run off these calories.” YIKES….I would love to help stop this cycle somehow.

    • Jace says:


      Thank you so much for reading, sharing your story (and your lovely compliment!).

      You are so brave to share that memory with us. I, too, have some pretty fierce moments locked in my head that confused me for years. (Some still do to this day!)

      It seems to be starting earlier and earlier for girls these days, I can’t even imagine how hard it must have to feel like that sole voice, but YOUR voice is so important, especially for your daughter. I personally think that by being there for her, supporting her, and encouraging her – you are absolutely doing your part to help stop the cycle. If we all just do a little… we can work toward making big, positive waves. It might sound corny, but I believe it to be true!

      Thank you so much for sharing with us, Erica.


  7. Sarah says:

    I am deeply moved by your post. Not only because it’s real, but more so, I can relate to this stigma. Thanks a lot for sharing your story to everyone. May we all find the child in us once again, and listen to its inner voice one more time.

    • Jace says:


      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this post. I’m so glad that it resonated with you.


  8. Dustin says:

    “She wants to come out and play but not only is she scared of what other people might think or say – she’s scared of me. She’s afraid that I’m going to berate her for her desire for food. She’s worried that I’m going to step on her dreams and make her grow up.”
    Wow! It never really clicked in my mind before I read this, that this is totally what is going on.
    I love all of this post so much. Thank you for sharing it!

    • Jace says:

      Hi Dustin,

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. We’re so happy to hear that you loved this post! Thank you again for reading.


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About the Author

Jacki Monaco

Jacki (or Jace) is a Green Mountain alum that shares experiences with binge eating disorder through "The Binge Eating Diaries” series. Follow Jacki as she shares the discoveries she’s made on her journey to health and happiness.

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