Weighty Matters is a series dedicated to open and honest conversations about insecurities, negative thoughts, and other things that hold us back.
A couple weeks ago, there were several people on Instagram that were very openly sharing their struggles with binge eating. I watched those videos, shed some tears, and did some reflection of my own.
I vividly remember the first time I ever read anything about binge eating. It was more than five years ago, in a post by a plus-sized blogger that I still follow to this day. My first thought was to brush it off and scoff. I remember thinking it wasn’t a real thing, not an actual disorder. It was just overeating or a lack of self-control.
I was in complete and total denial.
I didn’t want to accept that binge eating was an issue because I could see so many of those behaviors in myself. This is probably one of the reasons I failed at keto the first time–I wasn’t dealing with the real issues.
Being overweight is just a symptom. It’s not the true problem.
It’s really hard for me to admit that I have a problem, that my relationship with food is likely to be a lifelong struggle.
Eating in secret is probably the biggest binge issue for me. I travel a lot for work and it’s so easy to hole up in a hotel room and devour a pint of ice cream, an entire package of gluten free cookies, or an oversized bag of potato chips–sometimes all of those and more. Even alone, I felt embarrassed and ashamed even when I was doing this, yet I couldn’t stop the compulsion or the behavior.
Storing lots of snacks in my desk drawer at the office was also a problem. The office is another great place to secretly indulge. I’d go to the grocery store and load up, sneaking bags of food inside. There was one cashier that I would avoid because I felt like she was judging me and my choices. After all, how can you justify $30 worth of junk food at 10am on a Tuesday?
Sometimes I’d go to multiple stores, thinking I could spread my purchases out to be less noticeable. Clearance candy was my kryptonite.
I don’t know if any of those cashiers noticed my shopping habits or even cared, but it seemed like I could feel their disapproval. That was enough to bring on even more shame and embarrassment, which led to even more dysfunctional eating.
The destructive thinking is also a component that is hard to control. I’d stand at the register with a face red from embarrassment, palms damp from nervousness, sweating as the cashier rang through my chips and candy and ice cream. In my head, I was sure I knew what she was thinking. “Look at that fat girl with all that candy. What’s wrong with her? No wonder she’s so fat!” Why wouldn’t she have those thoughts when I was thinking the same things about myself?
It’s difficult for even me to understand why I would engage in those behaviors when I knew how miserable they would make me feel. It’s like no matter how far I fell, nothing could overcome my insatiable need to consume as much food as possible in as little time as possible. All of that sugar would make me feel so nauseous, yet I continued to binge and make myself sick.
I can’t let these bad behaviors get the best of me.
Ready for a Refresh
Since starting keto again in January, I’ve worked really hard to set some goals for myself. These goals are specifically related to the binge behaviors that I need to curb and eventually eliminate. It’s a daily struggle.
1. No snacks in the desk drawer.
Currently, in my desk, there’s a pouch of tuna, some mayo packets, salt, and pepper. The tuna and mayo are a back-up lunch, just in case I forget to pack. I bring a snack from home in my lunch bag–a serving of nuts, cheese, or turkey sticks. I do not allow myself to have access to a drawer full of food; it would not end well. Even a bag of sugar-free candy (which will definitely give me an upset stomach) is not a safe option. I feel like I can’t eat one of just anything.
2. No eating in secret.
I’m no longer hoarding food at work, but this is still difficult for me. I still find myself standing in the open refrigerator, shoving cheese into my mouth at a frantic pace. I’ll still stand in the kitchen and eat leftovers straight from the pan so no one knows just how much I’m eating. Even though it’s keto-friendly food, it’s still a destructive behavior that I need to avoid. If it’s going to get shoveled into my pie hole, it needs to be on a plate and I need to be sitting down.
3. Stay on track and on plan.
Deviating from my eating plan gets me into real trouble. I’m not a person that can shake off one bad meal and move on. It throws me into a complete spiral. Eating chips at the Mexican restaurant turns into snacking on chocolate and pretzels. I’ve already messed up. Why not just blow the whole day and eat all the things? A bad day means I’m not going to lose any weight for the week, so what’s the big deal with just having an entire week of indulgence? It’s a destructive cycle.
It may seem extreme to some, but I just can’t allow myself to deviate. I’m trying to create better habits, which means I need to avoid the ones that have gotten me into this mess.
4. Pack a lunch. Pack a dinner. Be prepared.
Starting over–and only one month in–I don’t like the temptation of eating out. It seems so risky with my lack of self-control. I know that I can’t completely avoid restaurants, so I need to do better preparation. I can decide where I’m going before heading out, check the menu, and make a good decision on my food choice. If I wait until I get there and start looking at the menu, I’m often led astray. (I’m looking at you, chocolate chip pizookies from BJ’s.)
5. Am I really hungry?
This is a goal that is one of the bigger struggles. I try to justify bad eating habits on an almost daily basis, even when the food is keto. A few nights ago, I went back for seconds at dinner. Was I really hungry? No. I was full. I justified my extra eating because I was under my daily allotment for both carbs and calories for the day.
Just because my goal is 20 net carbs doesn’t mean I have to eat them all.
Moving forward, I think the best plan for me is to be honest and accountable. I need to follow my goals, track my food, and not beat myself up when I make a mistake. Mistakes and mess-ups are going to happen. I have to learn how to manage.