Psychology of Binge Eating
In my studies at IIN this past week the subject of oppression came up. There was talk about the influences that oppression can play in our lives and well being — things that we may have been carrying with us for a long time.
For instance, much of what comes up with women is influenced by societal pressures from the media — the image and idea of the “perfect woman”. A lot of times this translates to weight issues.
This subject has had me reflecting a bit on my own life. When I was 19 and away from home at college I became more aware of my weight and wanted, like most women, to be thinner. This desire helped spur a new relationship with food.
Bombarded by messages from the “diet” industry, I started paying more attention to calories, which eventually lead to skipping meals or eating very little. The food that I was eating was usually empty calories so I would be hungry, but I would push forward, keeping in line with my “diet”.
Until the line was broken. My anorexic periods would often follow with binge eating, especially on sweets. Sugar was definitely my friend. Then when the binge ended, the guilt would always resurface — along with a sugar crash.
I should mention that I’ve always carried with me my type A, perfectionist personality. These underpinnings meant that I would criticize myself for not sticking to my conceived diet rules. When I strayed, or ate too much, then guilt or anger would surface.
I looked into the connection with binge eating and psychology and came across an article that links this behavior to those with perfectionist type personalities. The binge eating relates to the desire to escape loneliness, failure and sadness — a temporary escape from a discouraged reality.
Women who exhibit patterns of anorexia and/or bulimia tend to be competitive and driven to succeed. I think this relates to the oppression of the media and self image that the perfect woman is super thin.
Restrictions on the Endo Diet
I bring this issue up because I think that a lot of women who have endometriosis fall into the Type A, perfectionist personality. (This comes from my own relations with other endo sisters and of reading other blogs on the web).
Also, the subject of eating disorders has come up quite a bit within discussion of endometriosis support groups I have been a part of — issues that are past, or still lingering. This subject comes up often in relation to the restrictive nature of what has been coined the “Endo Diet”.
A lot of women try all the restrictions on the Endo Diet for awhile then find themselves just bingeing on these restrictive foods, then feel horrible afterwards as their body inflames and pain returns. Then the guilt kicks in.
I know that I have been here, and while my bingeing episodes have grown further apart, I know that this behavior still lingers with me and still arises with my good old sweet friends and BBF — dark chocolate 🙂
Truth is, the Endo diet is pretty restrictive and it takes a lot of adjusting to get used to it, especially given the environment of food we live in, where gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, etc. are abundant in much of our food choices. Temptation is always around the corner.
Less Restrictions…. Less Ways to Fail
During my studies at IIN I’ve been learning about different “diets” — many of which restrict different things — be it meat, all animal products, grains, legumes, gluten, dairy, sugar…. etc. I’ve experimented with these different diets in the past and find more often than not that I don’t do well with a ton of restrictions.
Too many restrictions means too many opportunities for failure and related binges. When I first started the Endo Diet I cut out a lot — gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, meat, processed foods, fried foods…. the list goes on.
And for me, this restrictiveness was not feasible. The times that I have completely cut out sweets or animal products then I’d do well for awhile then when I’d slip up, I’d also slip into another binge. As if I have to catch up with what was lost.
My compromise with the Endo diet has been to restrict my two biggest pain/digestive triggers — gluten and dairy. I do my best to avoid soy, but I don’t beat myself up about consuming it. It’s in almost everything and avoiding it completely is very hard.
I have cut down on other potentially problematic foods like grains and corn and try and keep my sugar intake to natural sources like fruit and raw honey. I avoid fried foods, but if there are hot french fries near me… I will have a couple 🙂
When I have a little, I don’t have to suppress the craving that can lead to out of control binges. When I can have it, then I don’t want it as bad, Lol.
When I do fall too far off the wagon my body does pay for it — while it may not be immediate, it is usually felt when flow arrives. These reminders of pain and bloat help to keep me on track. I understand that the restrictions I do keep are for my own good and for the love of my body.
On the Positive Side?
I feel so blessed to be part of the IIN community. The program has helped me to reevaluate things in my life. By recognizing my past oppressions with food and the relationship this has with my perfectionist ways is in and of itself growth and a big step towards peace, as I work to let go….
I do feel like I’ve come a long way with my relationship with food. I understand now that it is the fuel for my body — which deserves the very best. I know that the statement — “You are what you eat” is absolutely true.
I’ve learned that to keep my sugar cravings at bay and to prevent diving into a big bag of dark chocolate treats, that something is missing — my body likely needs water, protein or fats. Or I am stressed out and need to do some deep breathing, meditation… or a good dance around the room 🙂
I know that I feel good when I fill myself with good, but I also know that there are times when convenience takes toll — so I can’t beat myself up when the bad comes in. No sense in worrying about what is already done. Take it as a lesson in what not to do and move forward with healthy, nourishing ingredients.
I do the best that I can — and that is good enough 🙂
By eating healthy and cutting out my two biggest aggravators (gluten/dairy) I have reached my ideal weight and have plateaued. Weight loss never enters my mind as I maintain a consistent, healthy weight 🙂
What about you? Have you struggled with the Endo Diet? Had issues with eating behaviors or disorders in the past? I would love to hear from you.