8 Things I’ve Learned on My Intuitive Eating Journey

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1.  Perfection is a myth.  Tonight we had pizza and I wasn’t hungry at all but I was super cranky and irritable and pissed about everything…so I ended up trying to numb my feelings with 5 pieces of pizza.  Every time I think I’m past this, it happens again.  I may never fully overcome it, but it happens much less frequently than it used to, and that is how I measure progress.

2.  How not to respond to a binge or overeating episode: Taking a bunch of laxatives or other medication, going on a 2-hour run, swearing to all deities that you will not eat a single thing for the rest of the week, going on a liquid fast, mentally berating yourself and wondering when you are ever going to get your shit together.

3.  How to respond to a binge or overeating episode: Don’t freak out.  Seriously.  Acknowledge that it happened, acknowledge that you are sickeningly full and miserable and in pain–and realize that you will feel better tomorrow.  I try to go to sleep as soon as I can (as many of my binges happen at night), because by now I know that nothing is going to help the awful sickness pass but time.

4.  Food can be comfort, love, and an emotional painkiller.  Finding something to replace it is really hard.

5.  Talking about it helps.  Hiding your shame and pain and feeling like a worthless excuse for a human being with no self-control does not.  You need support.*  Find someone–a counselor, a friend, a family member, or an online support group–that you can talk to when you’re feeling shitty and all you want to do is eat your way into of a vat of chocolate frosting.

6.  You are not the only one.  You are not the only one who has ever eaten an entire pizza or package of Oreos by yourself.  You are not the only one who has pulled food back out of the trash and eaten it because you were like a (wo)man possessed and could not think of anything else.  You are not the only one who struggles.

7.  It is not about a lack of willpower.  You are not a weak person who just needs to suck it up and work harder.  You are someone who is dealing with something that others who toss “eat less, move more” at you may not understand.

8.  It gets better.  It can.  It does.  It will.

I promise.

——

*I am not qualified in any way to offer advice or counsel, but if you need someone to talk to and be on your team, I am always here.

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9 thoughts on “8 Things I’ve Learned on My Intuitive Eating Journey

  1. I don’t think I ever realized that binge eating was an actual illness (or at least a symptom of an illness) until just now. It sounds stupid, because I’m the first person who will stand up and admit I have depression and that it’s an illness, just like my younger brother’s diabetes. That there’s no real cure, only treatments that you have to adhere to almost religiously if you want your life to get better. That sometimes life doesn’t get better, or you relapse, and it makes you realize that yes, you’re still sick, you still have a lifelong disease you will be fighting your whole life.

    And feeling horribly sad is a symptom of depression, but so are things like tiredness, and lethargy, and a lack of motivation, headaches, anger, inability to concentrate, the list goes on.

    But I guess I should add binge eating (compulsive overeating?) to that list, since I frequently binge when I’m depressed or angry or scared. And I’ve been thinking of it as an unhealthy coping mechanism, and maybe it is, but it’s also a part of depression for me. And that’s okay.

    • Thanks for sharing that, you made a really good point. I think it’s important that things like depression (or compulsive eating) are acknowledged as legitimate illnesses or issues. No one gains anything by downplaying them.

  2. I really love this piece so much. In fact, I just read it to Kel too. My binge eating isn’t spurred on by emotions necessarily – I’m still trying to figure out what it is. I think it’s a compulsion to see HOW far I can push my body (ie stuff it with calories) before the result is visible on the scale (answer: not very). It’s a bizarre, hurtful cycle, and I find I’m falling into it even on SCD, by eating 10 bananas in a night!

    I love the trash can bit – no you’re not alone.

    I’m glad to hear you being softer on yourself and giving yourself a little more room to make mistakes. You deserve it. You’re your harshest critic and I’m happy you’re giving yourself a bit of a break. I hope you’re well Heather, and that the move is going smoothly x

    • Thank you! That’s really interesting, what you said about feeling compelled to see how far you can push your body. I hadn’t heard that before, and it’s a different side of things. I hope you are doing well! I can’t believe you’re well over halfway to the 90-day mark.

  3. Love this post. It’s important to hear that I’m not alone, but even more important to me that you mentioned it happens even when you think you’re over it and that you are measuring progress in the way that the binges are less frequent. I haven’t had enough time to measure much progress but am hopeful for the same to be the case for me.

    I just remembered that I had created a silent goal to not binge eat in 2014 because Intuitive Eating was supposed to help remedy the problem… Thankfully I’m not using the all-or-nothing mentality about it, though. In retrospect that goal is completely unrealistic when I’m just starting to work on things this year for the first time.

    • That’s a great goal, but it’s really smart of you not to be all-or-nothing about it. It’s definitely going to take some time, but try to come up with easy markers that you can distinguish your progress by. It helps with motivation. 🙂

      • I’m thinking about progress and how to determine it. My binges don’t happen often which is scary because it’s hard to really visualize the frequency in a way that I can help myself stop. I have decided that I’d like to do more private journaling in order to find patterns and analyze things to come up with strategies for prevention. I know my next progress marker should be if I haven’t had a binge in May or June. It happens every few months pretty consistently for the past couple years so if I can get past those months without one, I think that would be progress. Or even a one-day binge would be progress compared to the weekend one from March.

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