recovering from binge eating disorder

What is food addiction?

Food addiction/ Binge eating disorder - a serious mental illness where you have complete loss of control around food, a binge is an episode of excessive eating, people who binge tend to eat very large quantities of food over a short period of time, even when they are not hungry. This person will find themselves thinking about food constantly, worried about it, planning around it and obviously indulging. It is one of the most common eating disorders.

Binge eating episodes are associated with the following:

  • Eating much more rapidly than normal

  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably ill / full

  • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry

  • Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed about how much your eating

  • Feeling disgusted with yourself, depressed angry or guilty after eating.

  • Becoming so distracted by food that you are less engaged in life.

What happens when you binge?

My own experience from binge eating is utter loss of control. I can only describe it as being in sort of a daze. Its a sense of total withdrawal. A feeling of intense cravings and not being able to trust yourself around food. When I binge I am completely unable to fight my desire for food, because of course it is an addiction. Many of my friends, family or online peers are most likely extremely unaware that I have suffered from this, a lot of the time people are unaware of how much food I am consuming as a lot of my binges occur when I am alone, which in itself is one of the most difficult parts of suffering from a food addiction, you feel extremely ashamed, alone and utterly helpless. For a while I actually wanted to keep it a secret from my doctor / GP because it was MY secret, and if no one knew, I could keep doing it, and I wouldn't have to deal with it and I could continue to make excuses for the reasons that I am binging for example: 'there's no point in me trying to help myself at the moment when I can't get any help from the doctors or be prescribed any medication or be allocated local groups or therapy, I may as well just keep eating whatever until the time comes when I can get an appointment' this vicious cycle occurred for months on end, alongside the excessive need to exercise to make up for what I had done, or often not eating the following day, a lot of the time I actually did not have the motivation to go to the gym as I was so utterly depressed and hopeless that I would never get rid of my addiction. I was ashamed to go out in public, I found myself cancelling a lot of plans as whenever I went to try my clothes on I would have a complete breakdown that they did not fit me properly, or that they didn't look nice on me because I was too fat. I was too embarrassed to meet people as I feared they would tell me I had put on weight, I let my weight define me for a long time. I didn't want to go out for meals with people in case they began to pick up that I was eating too much, or too quickly, and if someone made a passing comment about what I was eating or the way I was eating I would become stressed, angry and insecure.

I didn't even know food addiction was a thing until my mum spoke to me about it, and this is part of the reason I have created this post to speak up and raise awareness about food addiction and help those understand it. I had an unhealthy obsession with being 'thin' I thought that if I was thin then I would be happy, if I was thin then boys / girls would like me, If I was thin then maybe I would get more modelling jobs. If I was thin then everything was ok. Unfortunately, and I found out the hard way, that no matter how thin you are, you are never truly happy unless you deal with the REAL issues, which I had a lot of. At the time that my food addiction was at its worst, I was going through heartbreak, I'd also never properly sorted out my childhood issues of abandonment, emotional deprivation blah blah, it also really didn't help I had no idea I was borderline either. I replaced a lot of my sadness from heartbreak with food, and occasionally other unhealthy habits. I needed a way to fill that hole, I didn't want to feel sad anymore, the feelings were too overwhelming for me to handle (as you all know from my last post I struggle to maintain a healthy method of dealing with intense emotions.) I remember one time something had popped up on my Facebook time hop that reminded me of something that made me feel sad and lonely, before I even had time to process how I was feeling I went straight to my comfort blanket, food. I remember vividly finding every packet of crisps, bar of chocolate, tub of ice cream or whatever I could get my hands on and just eating and eating and eating. Once I'd finished everything that I had I cried, a lot. And in came the waves of negativity crashing into my head, flooding my mind with my well known friends called shame, guilt, disgust and utter disappointment. The first thing I indulged in just simply did not satisfy me, and then the domino effect starts, my mind goes into over drive and I simply lose any bit of control I have, it's as if I'm not even in my own body anymore, this overwhelming desire to continue eating takes over my body and before I know it I've eaten far too much and am feeling repulsed, and have the most uncomfortable feeling and pain in my stomach of being too full. My weight has always fluctuated, I would go through months where I'd eat super clean and work out every day if I had a certain job coming up that I wanted to look good for, or the odd months where I would go out a lot, over indulging in alcohol which obviously always led to a 20 nugget box from McDonalds. But during either of these periods, my mind was always occupied with food. When was it next acceptable to eat next? What shall I eat next? Can I eat that because I've already eaten that today? Technically I can eat this because I skipped that meal last night so if I eat this then it's ok right? How can I eat that without anyone noticing? If I eat that I'm going to feel really guilty about it after so I'll just let myself be hungry because being hungry is better than being fat isn't it? These are just a few questions that would run through my head on a daily basis, for anyone these thoughts and feelings are too extreme and mind consuming, and as expected I became very miserable. I resulted to trying some serious extremes to lose weight and banish my shame. I once spent over £200 on an ice liposuction which left me with bruising on my love handles which I quickly lied to anyone who asked about, saying I must've done it when I was drunk. I was doing the most ridiculous things like booking myself them weight loss seaweed wraps, going on juice diets, my parents once spent a grand for me to go on a fitness retreat for 5 days, where I lost weight but obviously put it back on because my core issues hadn't been sorted out. I'd tried it all, the fruit and veg 1 week diet, the lemon water diet, all that shit I've tried, it failed, it doesn't help. Eventually, my beautiful kind hearted selfless queen of a mother decided enough was enough, she was sick and tired of seeing me miserable and not helping myself. We eventually went down to my GP in London and there I was diagnosed with binge eating disorder, (food addiction.)

My initial reaction was pure embarrassment, how can I be addicted to food? I didn't want anyone to know, I didn't even really like the doctor saying it to me. He assured me that this disorder is cureable and he was going to help me get better. My mum explained to me that being a food addict wasn't anything to be ashamed of, and I should be proud of myself that I am on a road to recovery. I think part of the reason that I was so embarrassed was because I'd genuinely never actually heard of food addiction before, I just thought I was an emotional, greedy mess. This is where I am going to explain the difference between loving food and being a food addict .

We can all overdose with our food from time to time, eating too much of that cake we got for our birthday just because it tastes so good, going up for seconds at a buffet just because it's free and you can, or maybe you've had a shit day and you're eating for the sake of making yourself feel better. But what sets people apart from loving food and being addicted to it, is the uncontrollable habit. Being a person who loves food, usually means that you are really enjoying it and you don't feel embarrassed for eating it, where as a food addict will feel repulsed and ashamed with themselves after they've eaten something, regretting it, and then constantly thinking about what they've done and how disappointed in themselves they are for eating. "If the eating is repetitively filled with shame and the person is ultimately not enjoying the food, then that's a different story." The thing with food addiction that I struggle with so much is that you need to eat to live, so how could I ever get over an addiction when I'm surrounded by the substance that is ruining my life every day. Recent studies show that patients who have struggled with alcohol and drug addictions say that fighting food is harder than any other addiction because it's always there, you really can't avoid it. In addition to this, whilst food addiction can be harmful to our health via weight gain and the potential impact on other markers such as cholesterol and triglyceride levels, the daily and necessary nature of eating makes managing these symptoms extremely hard. Other health risks of binge eating disorder include high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoarthritis and certain types of cancer (such as breast cancer and bowel cancer.)

Some of the main causes of binge eating include the following

  • having low self esteem, lack of confidence

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Feelings or boredom, stress and loneliness

  • Stressful or traumatic effects in your past

  • Having a family history of eating disorder

Another common myth with food addiction is "only obese people can be food addicts"

No matter what your BMI ,or size, it's possible for you to be a food addict. There's many ways in which people restrict and binge. "The question is how the person uses food not what ones weight is. Just because someone is thin doesn't mean they aren't a food addict" a lot of people may look at me and question how it is possible for someone like me an average size 10 can be suffering from a food addiction, but you truly have no idea what goes on behind closed doors.

After I was diagnosed, I was assigned a wonderful therapist, and some new medication. I've been in the process of recovery for about 9 weeks now and I have learned a lot. I've learnt that I became a food addict because I was trying to fill holes of sadness, loneliness, heartbreak, alongside having low self esteem when it came to my body. I would like to take the time to thank my mother for being so patient with me through my process of recovery, supporting me and helping me in any way possible, she's constantly sending me books and links to articles about beating eating disorders and learning to overcome food addiction, your positive outlook on life inspires me every day and I cannot praise you enough for being the greatest mum ever. I have a lot of other people who have really helped me through my recovery, my best friend Eloise has taught me some of the greatest lessons in life when it comes to how we should treat our bodies. Eloise you have not only taught me that beauty comes from within but that my weight does not define me, you've totally blossomed into the most incredible beautiful woman that I am so privalidged to know. You've taught me that there's SO much more to life than what size I am, you show me every day that it's who you are on the inside that counts, you help me to be the best version of myself and I am forever grateful for that.

I spent a long period of my life being totally obsessed with what I looked like, because I needed validation from other people to feel good about myself. I only ever felt good about myself if I looked good. I thought people would only ever take interest in me if I looked good, I focused solely on how I looked rather than who I am as a person. I surrounded myself with some people who did actually only want or care for me because of the way I looked, I felt worthy when someone thought I was physically attractive. I have finally come to terms with the fact that quite frankly, I don't give a fuck if you think I'm beautiful or not because I know my soul is radiant, my heart is passionate and my mind is wise, and that is the most beautiful I could ever be. I no longer need people to validate if I am pretty or not, or if I'm skinny enough to be wearing that outfit or posting that picture. I've learnt that I am so much more of a person than what size jeans fit me. I am strong, kind and giving, intelligent and driven. THAT is beauty, and I won't let people tell me otherwise. Loving yourself is simple, but not easy. Don't compare yourself to other people, much easier said than done I know, but we are all on our own journey living different lives, no ones story is the same, let others journeys inspire you, but don't let it stop you from living your life to its full potential. You are not In competition with anyone else, don't try and outdo others, break your own limits. Kelly Clarkson once said "I wish I had a faster metabolism but someone else probably wishes they could walk into a room and make friends with anyone the way I can". Life is all about embracing the best parts of yourself, don't let your weight distract you from seeing the beauty that life is blessing you with on a daily basis. At this moment in time I am physically, mentally and emotionally ready to start a new chapter in my life, I'm ready to grow and get better. The real and best Glo up of all is when you stop trying to turn yourself into this unrealistic perfect person and enjoy who you truly are in this present moment, take the stress away from yourself, you need to be your own best friend not your own worst enemy. . We are all in charge of our own lives, so fill yours with as much light and love as you can. I simply cannot commit my life to self destruction, appearance, size and food. I'm letting go of the belief that my worth is determined by my weight.

I want you to know that you are so much more than the mistakes you have made, if we spent our lives beating ourselves up over the things we have done in the past, we are basically agreeing to a life of misery. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and learn how to grow. You can learn from a mistake or you can run, choose to learn, choose to forgive and accept and become better. We are human, we are flawed and we have the right to fuck up sometimes. You only have so much emotional energy per day, don't waste it on negativity.

Eating disorders are a bitch, they put a huge strain on your life and can make you so unbearably miserable, as all mental illness can, but we are all able to recover. We must remind ourselves of that, you've overcome all that life has thrown at you so far and you will continue to do so until you take your last breath. Remind yourself how many times you've picked up the broken pieces of yourself and forced them back together again. Remember the times where you felt utterly hopeless but you pushed through, feel this moment right now, you're living and surviving and that is something to be so proud of.

I am now just over a month clean from bingeing, I have not had many urges either. I eat without guilt about 80% of the time now. I cannot sit here now and tell you I still don't and won't get glimpses of stress and shame around food, because I am still growing, but I have improved so much already and am excited to continue my journey of recovery. I still on the odd occasion see myself in the mirror after a shower and think oh god I probably should've gone to the gym today, or catch a glimpse of my belly poking over the top of my jeans and think maybe I shouldn't have had that dessert, but it's about how I deal with these thoughts that show me I've changed. I don't let these thoughts consume me or take over my life to the point where I can't go out and enjoy myself. I don't let these thoughts restrict me from living my best life, I'm on a slow and steady journey to becoming the healthiest happiest version of myself.