Binging: Get over it

I remember when my now 23-year-old got his first taste of ketchup on a French fry.  His late father took individual French fries from his plate, dipped them in the sweet sauce and handed them to our son, who thought they were magical.  I think he would have stood there all day and eaten them, because they tasted good to him. It was almost like binging, except he was actually ENJOYING the French fries, each one, separately. Smiling after each fry and looking for more. It’s a scene I have never forgotten.

Binging in an adult is a little different.  The first one tastes great. The second one is generally not bad, and then the third cookie, cupcake, bowl of ice cream, bag of chips or fries – whatever it happens to be — doesn’t taste so good anymore.

I’ve written about my own previous binges, and lately I seem to be reading more about other people’s binges. We all feel guilty about them afterward, but we can’t seem to stop the binge in its tracks.

I’ve found that binging can become a really bad habit.  When I don’t want to deal with an event, an emotion, something happening in my life, I eat. And eat. And eat. It’s not mindless eating because I know I’m overeating, but I keep eating anyway. Mindless eating for me is more about inhaling a lot of food before I realize it is happening. With binging, I am fully aware.

When I binge, I’m trying to soothe… something. Sometimes I see clearly what feeling I want to suppress or what task I’m putting off.  Other times I can’t put my finger on what’s bugging me, at least not right away. I can usually figure it out though.

Binging used to be my own secret guilt trip, but I’m learning I’m not the only one who does it. Maybe we find it easier to admit to our transgressions when we see other people being open about it.  Also, keeping it secret definitely makes it easier to binge again; but just because no one knows doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

In Charlotte, a nutritionist I saw while I was there told me the only reason I should ever overeat was because something tasted really, really good. Every mouthful. Kind of like my son and the French fries.  I’m not sure I completely understood then what she meant, but I think I do now.

The other thing she told me is everyone overeats sometimes, so it’s not a reason to give up my goal of healthy eating. I have found she spoke no truer words: Don’t use overeating and binging as excuses to quit your routine.  Just get right back on the healthy eating train and ride.  Guilt about binging never helped anybody. Maybe you can’t control the binge when it happens, but you can control the guilt. Get over it. Move on. Get back to eating well.

And if you’re going to overeat, just make sure you enjoy every single bite. There’s no reason to feel guilty about that.

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