This is my conference report on binge eating.
I have been eating what I call “clean” for exactly one year and five days. By clean, I mean that I found the way of eating that is not triggering and have avoided all foods that are treacherous, seductive, too delicious or in any way placing me at risk to devolve into binge eating. My idea of a treat now is a box of berries.
Ten days ago I was in a high social- and performance-stress situation: away from home, presenting at a conference, and surrounded by hotel food and people who expected me to be the expert.
My relapse – or binge – started with a candy bar. It was an old-friend way of toning down the stress after my presentation.
Once the barrier was down, my rebound reaction to sugar was off to the races and I became unstoppable. I gained nine pounds in seven days. Before Suppers, I would have thought that was “real” weight, but now I know it was more like a toxic reaction and that I was holding a huge amount of fluid after my body, which had been fed pristinely for a year, was suddenly re-exposed to every form of sugar and gluten I could get my hands on. I have no idea how I felt in my body, I was too busy hunting down my favorite crap to notice or care.
But there was a big difference between this binge and all previous binges: I knew I would get back on track. I just knew that as soon as I got home, I would once again embrace the way of eating that serves me so well and sees me through times of average stress.
It took one week to lose seven pounds, and I could tell I was urinating most of it away. The next pound took four days. One pound to go.
This binge taught me an important lesson. My new way of eating is fundamental to who I am. I used to think I was a binge eater, an obsessive personality. I don’t believe that anymore. I have a new way of eating that is completely satisfying in all but the most stressful circumstances. I am free of compulsion and obsession about food when I eat well. Now I know I can get myself back on track after a slip. In this case, it took one day – one day! – and I was back into my healthy routine.
People have so many different triggers for a binge. For me, it’s usually in the form of stress or anxiety, and that’s how it started this time. Once started, the food itself becomes the greater trigger. Once it’s in my system, I don’t need stress to keep a binge going, it goes all by itself. I think it was the confidence I had because I knew I would get back on track once I got home that makes me take a philosophical view on this experience instead of beating myself up about it.