My self-esteem was at an all-time low. I felt tortured and thought I was a failure as I repeatedly binged on food, rapidly gained weight.
My family worried about my health, and I felt … hopeless.
It wasn’t until my mom staged an intervention that I finally realized I needed outside help with the problem that I thought was my weight. To the internet I went. I wasn’t sure what I was searching for, but I knew it wasn’t for conventional weight loss programs because I’d already tried them all.
I ventured into eating disorder cyberspace and came across the term binge eating disorder (BED), which, to my shock, described my behavior perfectly.
The National Binge Eating Disorders Association classifies BED as the most common eating disorder in the United States.
“Binge eating disorder (BED),” they explain, “is a severe, life-threatening, and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating.”
Could it be possible, I wondered, that I had an eating disorder?
I called an eating disorders treatment center and the phone screening resulted in my eventual diagnosis of BED, after which I entered a 5-week long day treatment program.
My first day of binge eating disorder treatment was so emotional and scary, but thankfully, it led me to have an important epiphany.
I realized I wasn’t a failure because I couldn’t lose weight or stick to a weight loss diet. In truth, I had a mental health disorder, and it was hindering both my emotional and physical well-being.
Binge eating and being overweight were symptoms of much larger concerns I had in other areas of my life.
So after years of struggling, I finally began my journey to recovery.
Here are 10 ilife-changing lessons I learned about treatment for and recovery from binge eating disorder:
1. I was using food as a coping mechanism.
I used food to cope with difficult feelings resulting from traumas in my childhood, yo-yo dieting deprivation, and a life that was stressful and unfulfilling.
2. Recovery from BED is not about losing weight. It’s about creating a healthy relationship with food.
This was the hardest concept to wrap my head around! A slow, mindful, intuitive, balanced and a non-restrictive approach to eating is the way to develop a healthy relationship with food.
3. Identifying your emotions is hard, but well worth the effort.
Once I did, I started to find my true self. And I’ve discovered that I’m pretty awesome just the way I am!
4. Learning how to stop binge eating doesn’t mean finding the “right” diet.
Weight loss diets and crash diets do not work. Period.
5. BED recovery takes a village.
No one can recover alone. The best friend I made during treatment remains my lifeline. Be sure to find someone you can trust and depend on.
6. Blaming, shaming and hating yourself will never serve you.
Beating yourself up results in internal bruises that are pretty tough to heal.
7. In the grand scheme of things, what I weigh really doesn’t matter.
The number on the scale is not the most important thing in life.
8. Learning how to stop binge eating is a process.
Transformation and recovery from an eating disorder is an ongoing practice. It doesn’t happen on a perfect or straight path.
9. Take care of yourself because of how it makes you feel, not how you think it might change the way you look.
Do things like eating healthy or exercising because they feel good, not because you should ot because you think the end result will have anything to do with what you weigh or how you look.
10. Recovery and transformation are possible.
And it’s possible to heal your relationship with food!
Overcoming binge eating disorder served as a catalyst for me to change my life completely.
I now deal with emotions without using food, which I practice every day. I left my job and am pursuing my passion of helping others overcome emotional eating issues. I moved South where the gray days of winter turned into yellow, sunny ones. My relationships are better.
And I’ve learned how to live life without binge eating in order to cope with the inevitable times when it all feels like a struggle.
Recovering from my eating disorder was a roller-coaster ride filled with tears, laughter, amazing women, supportive family, profound realizations, deep soul-searching, joy and success — and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.