The Binge Eating Diaries: I’ve Been Having An Affair

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I’ve been having an affair. It’s sexy. It’s seductive. It makes me feel like I’m on top of the world. Time stops when I’m with him. I feel desired, dangerous, and daring.

He gets me like no one else ever has. Ever could. Wrapped in that embrace, I don’t have to think, to breathe, to pretend. The touch. The taste. God, it’s beautiful. Nothing else matters. No one else exists.

These aren’t fireworks; they’re painkillers. Numb with ecstasy, I let myself go. But as soon as the heat of the moment has passed, I realize what I’ve done.

I’ve cheated again. On myself. With food.

I binge and then I crash. Everything I know melts away. But each time, I feel more alone than I’ve ever felt before. What have I done? The guilt is too much to bear. I said I’d never go back. I swore that last time would be the last time.

But it wasn’t. It never is.

I've cheated again. On myself. With food.

I’ve ended things time and time and time again. When will I learn my lesson? When will I see things for what they really are? This isn’t a relationship. This isn’t right. This isn’t love.

He is not the answer. He can’t bring me the kind of happiness I’m after. He isn’t worth more than my relationship — with myself.

This is what bingeing felt like for me.

Food was my lover, my dirty little secret, my paramour. And bingeing was my ecstasy.

I was embarrassed of my relationship with food, so I kept it hidden — behind closed doors where no one could judge me for my cheating ways. But one day, I told someone. I revealed my “pseudo boyfriend” to my mother.

I told her how much I was hurting. I cried that this time I just couldn’t go back. I admitted that the relationship had become addictive and abusive — and that I was scared that I was losing myself.

“I don’t know what to do. Please help me,” I pleaded with wet cheeks and a shivering voice.

She held me in her arms, fighting to hold back her tears. Loving a child this much must be in the most painful thing in the world, I thought. “We’ll figure it out together,” she promised.

And so we embarked on a long, painful journey. But I knew I wasn’t alone this time. And I knew he wasn’t the one coming with me.

My weight gain was obvious, but my 24/7 obsession and failing confidence weren’t as readily available for the eye to see. Even on an off day, I can fake out Sherlock Holmes with my 1000-watt smile.

But even knowing this, I just couldn’t break free. I couldn’t let go. I’d never felt this way before. I loved the highs — the control, the never having to worry if I’d be alone. But I could no longer stomach the lows — literally and figuratively.

My body was exhausted, and my mind felt hypnotized. I’d forgotten what hunger felt like. I was so full of rage, of sadness, of food. I craved wanting something as badly I wanted food. My brain was caught in a loop that always went back to chewing, swallowing, sipping, licking. Didn’t I like anything else anymore?

But even though my heart was breaking, I thought I was in love: How could something that felt that good be so bad?

In hindsight, I realize that our relationship had everything to do with quantity — and nothing to do with quality. I just wanted more. I didn’t care what it was more of — as long as it was more. I wasn’t fueling my mind and my body with love, respect, or healthy ingredients. I was stuffing it with anything and everything.

But I never felt satiated.

Our intimate ties were knotted with so many emotions — joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, anticipation — that I couldn’t tell where one ended and another began. And something desperate was lacking — something that all relationships need in order to thrive: respect. When he was present, I felt constantly disrespected — like I was worthless, shameful, and deserving of pain.

Finally, on my own terms and in my own time, I knew that enough was enough. I used all of my strength and summoned the courage to take a break from him.

I went away for a little while to rediscover what I loved about life — away from my relationship. And little by little, I started to see him differently.

My journey brought me to Green Mountain at Fox Run, a women’s center for healthy and happy living — a place where women can discover life without weight worries, freedom from the diet mentality that’s followed so many of us around, like a raincloud, for so long.

During my one month stay, I was reintroduced to physical movement and the beauty of feeding my body good-for-you food. I was able to connect with other women who were experiencing similar relationships and really dive into the reasons I was using food to cope in the first place.

I’ve said it countless times as it bears repeating: Green Mountain is the place that saved my life.

Over the last few years, food and I have loosened our ties. We’re still together, but it’s different. It’s no longer an affair that I’m ashamed of. It’s a partnership.

Changing the foundation of our relationship was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Pulling away and putting myself first was no easy feat. But it had to happen. And I’m so glad that it did.

Today, we are kinder to each other. He gives me what I need, and that’s where it ends. I don’t depend on him for every ounce of happiness in my life. I rely on him for nourishment and energy — and sometimes, we even have a little fun together. We play in the kitchen, create beautiful masterpieces, and we even go out on dates — in public, with friends — things we were never able to do before.

We’re actually able to enjoy our time together — guilt-free.

Don’t get me wrong. There are still occasions when I crave for us to be like we used to. I miss those moments of carelessness and bliss — the illicitness of it and the highs that it brought me. But those moments grow fewer and farther apart with each passing day. And the relationship we share these days is so much better for me.

What we have now isn’t a fiery, unstable lust. What we have now is understanding. What we have now is respect. What we have now is beautiful.

We still go through rough patches here and there, but we no longer go through them alone.

I have a support system that keeps me focused, motivated, comforted, and challenged. These special people keep me feeling full — full of life, instead of food.

Today, food still means a lot to me. He was my rock for so, so long. But when your rock stops supporting you and starts weighing you down, it’s time to break free.

 

Until next time,

Jace

How would you describe your relationship with food?


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9 responses to “The Binge Eating Diaries: I’ve Been Having An Affair”

  1. AmberLynn Pappas says:

    Having had a different, but still difficult relationship with food in my life, I understand the ability to fake everyone out, but still feel completely hopeless on the inside. There was a point where I couldn’t even stomach the idea of food coming near my lips. I feel like my relationship with food is very healthy now and I really enjoy eating and follow my body’s cues to eat. However, there are still the days I have to tell myself that it’s okay not to eat when I’m not hungry because I still feel this social pressure to eat 3 meals a day.

    • jackimonaco says:

      AmberLynn,

      Thank you so much for sharing with us today – both the hard times and your incredible triumphs. It’s inspiring to hear that your relationship with food is at a healthy and happy point today. Learning to follow our bodies’ cues about when to eat can be such a difficult step. You are incredible! I completely understand the concept of social pressure – but it sounds like you’re on a great path toward listening to your body instead of listening to society. Our bodies know best! Thank you again, so much, for sharing.

      Jace

  2. La Busch says:

    Great article! I really empathise, and it’s nice how you put a comedic stance towards it! The truth is that my relationship with food is really getting in the way with my life right now it’s devastating, and the hardest thing is knowing that the food is in my hand, as in its all self-harm, nobody else is forcing me to do it. Its been a real problem for me, and the longer the habit lasts the more it feels like it is engrained in me, and at it’s such a shameful disease. I really have found some inspiration in your blog, and really look forward to returning to that healthy relationship with food, and living a fufilled life! The more we share the less alone we feel in this struggle, and the more hope for recovery there is! Keep blogging please 🙂

    • Jace says:

      Hi La Busch,

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!
      It was so brave of you to share part of your story with us, and on behalf of myself and other readers, I want to thank you so much for that. You’re completely right – the more we share, the less alone we feel! I love those words.

      Thank you again for sharing.

      Jace

    • Kari Anderson says:

      La Busch
      Hope you don’t mind my also making a comment on this blog. You might be interested in some new science that shows eating “mimics” the social engagement that mammals require in order to calm their nervous systems and feel safe. Many replace food with relationships in order to feel safe…so having an affair with food can now be taken literally! Kari Anderson, DBH, Executive Director GMFR

  3. m says:

    I go to sleep. I wake up 1/2 or 1 hour later. Once I am aware that I am awake, I activate my brain to think of a carbohydrate somewhere in kitchen – the refrigerator, closet, drawer or cabinet. Sometimes, as I search the kitchen contents in my mind, I realize that all I have that is carbohydrate is store bought whole wheat salt free bread- –not tasty. Taste is irrelevant to me. I go to the kitchen, stuff down 4 slices. go back to bed and fall asleep.
    In addition, I wake my brain up so much by doing this mental inventory of my kitchen contents while I am still in bed and before I go to the kitchen, that I become fully mentally alert and am no longer feeling tired.

    So, once I am in the kitchen and get my food, I read until I feel tired. I eat the ENTIRE time I am reading to “keep me company”. I do not take 5 minute breaks to find out if I am feeling full. I feel compelled to eat and chew every second that I am reading. The entire episode does not end until I feel so tired I can not read anymore. Only then do I stop eating.

    I am working on being cognizant of feeling full while reading. That is the “baby step” I have recently assigned myself.

    Can anyone help me? Does anyone else follow the same pattern as me? or some parts of this pattern?

    Can anyone break this down for me and shed some light on what is going on each or some of the “steps of my behavior pattern” along the way?

    Seeking Help.
    M

    • Hi M,
      Thank you for reaching out regarding this struggle. This is a familiar situation we hear from many of our participants. I have some thoughts I’ll share, but also feel free to read this blog on Night Eating: https://www.fitwoman.com/blog/tips-for-a-night-eater/.

      There are different reasons people have this type of habit. Most commonly are: stress, sleep disruption, and nutritional deficiency, again, there may be other reasons, but these tend to be the most common. So questions to ask yourself are:

      How am I managing my stress?
      If stress is unmanaged or minimally managed, turning to food may be the way you’re “taking care of yourself”. When you say “I eat and read to keep me company”, I think – loneliness. If that’s the case, then I’d ask you what’s happening in life to address the stress of loneliness? If nothing/not much, then eating become the only or the primary source of stress relief/company.

      How is your sleep?
      Disrupted sleep patterns are known to impact craving, particularly to carbohydrate-rich foods because the serotonin released from the carbohydrate consumption can feel calming, which in turn feels like a sleep aid. This can develop a problematic cycle of turning to food for sleep. Instead, if this is an issue, consider developing sleep rituals that involve: a calming evening/nighttime routine; warm tea; hot shower; relaxing book; dark, cool room; no electronics, etc. There is a lot of literature on sleep hygiene that may be helpful.

      What is your nutritional intake throughout the day?
      If you’re nutritionally deprived in any way (aka, dieting, restricting, limiting, cutting, etc.), you may be making up for that deficiency at night. So check in with yourself and see if you’re getting enough throughout the day or are you feeling hungry often. You may need to consider eating a bit more, or adding more balance to what you’re eating so you feel less deprived and in turn, eat at night.

      I hope this helps for the time being. Again, feel free to read the above-mentioned blog on night eating, as well as others on our website for much more relevant information on this topic.

      Take care of yourself in the meantime,
      Yours,
      Shiri

  4. Malinda says:

    How much does it cost, would love to come

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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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