Confessions of a Compulsive Eater

April 1, 2010 · 7 comments

This is a guest post by love2eatinpa.

I am a 42-yr old happily married mother of two, but for over 30 years I led a secret life of a compulsive overeater and binge eater.

Sadly, I didn’t know until a little over two years ago that I was a binger and compulsive overeater. I thought I just had a sweet tooth and loved to eat a lot of junk food.

I went on “diets” off and on through junior high and high school. No brand-name diets, just lowering my calorie intake drastically. Fortunately, I played sports all through school, so my eating was offset by being active. Nonetheless, at 5’3″ I graduated high school weighing in at about 150 lbs.

Then I was off to college. Freshman 15? Nope, Freshman 20 for me. When I came home for Thanksgiving break, I weighed 172. None of my jeans fit, I mostly wore sweats all the time because my regular clothes didn’t fit.

My weight fluctuated with my compulsive eating through my 20′s. When I met my husband at the age of 26, I weighed about 143. (Scary how I can recall important moments in my life via my weight at the time! Ask me about a certain time in my life and I can always tell you what I weighed.)

I didn’t eat to live, I lived to eat. When we went to parties or events together, I had little interest in talking to people; my head was solely focused on the dessert table. When we entertained, after people left, I would gorge myself on the leftover desserts. I would shovel it down without even really tasting the food. I wouldn’t even swallow what was in my mouth before the next mouthful went in.

It was very shameful. I would always feel so full and bloated and just plain disgusted with myself afterward. I’d often vow that the next day I would “be good.” Sometimes I pulled it off, but most often I could not. Still, I had no idea I had an eating disorder. All I knew is that when faced with desserts and some other starches that a switch in my brain would go off and I would go into a feeding frenzy.

I could offset some of the calories by working out, which thankfully I did regularly even though most of the time I felt like a bloated slug, uncomfortable in my own skin.

At the end of December 2007, for some reason the words “compulsive overeating” popped into my head. I hopped onto my laptop and started googling. I eventually ended up at the website for Overeaters Anonymous. They have a section that is titled something like “are you one of us?” and has a list of questions. I answered yes to almost all of them. It wasn’t until that moment that the reality of it hit me – I have an eating disorder and if they have a website about it, apparently I’m not the only one who has this crazy relationship with food.

So I wrote a very long letter to my husband, telling him what I recently learned about myself and told him about all of the shameful secrets I had regarding my intake of food. It was a huge catharsis and I shed many many tears. It was so good to get that enormous weight off my chest. I had no idea these feelings were buried inside me all this time.

I embraced that I had an eating disorder, found a therapist, started going to Overeaters Anonymous meetings and have been binge-free for a little over two years now. I weigh the lowest I’ve ever weighed as an adult and have been maintaining this weight for about a year and a half. I go to the gym four days a week and I’m a calorie counter. I weigh and measure my food. Yes, those are all compulsive behaviors, but it’s what I need to do right now.

I’m working on following my hunger cues and becoming an intuitive eater, but it’s hard to undo 30+ years of messed up thinking that began as a young child with my parents. My therapist rocks and helps me to discover awarenesses about my eating and food behaviors. He helps me to see that if I expand other parts of my life, the part of my life that is focused on food will get smaller.

So while I still struggle to some degree every day, there are more easy days than hard days. I know that I will probably have food issues for the rest of my life, but my goal is to become as close to a ‘normal eater’ as I can via therapy, my blog and the wonderful community of support I get through my blog.

I feel good about how my body looks. I’m not sure I’ve ever said that about myself before. I’m strong and fit and I feel confident at the gym. I’ve come a long way from someone who used to feel disgusted with how I felt both physically and mentally. I still struggle with my self-esteem and self-confidence, but I’m slowly working on learning that I am worthy and have value.

Discovering I was a compulsive overeater/binger a couple of years ago ended up being a blessing. It has helped me to learn and grow as a person. I learned it’s never too late to improve yourself both physically and mentally.

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mac April 1, 2010 at 9:48 am

This is a great post! It reminds of myself-except I never wrote the letter. Maybe I should! Heading over to your blog right now…ahhh the beauties of guest posting, no?

love2eatinpa April 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm

hi mac, while i’m sorry you are a fellow sufferer, i’m glad my post resonated with with you.

Kate April 5, 2010 at 3:47 pm

what an inspirational story! i feel like my blog title renders me unfit to comment on your writing, but i think there needs to be a lot more awareness surrounding the issue of compulsive eating. i find myself slipping into it, and one of the most frightening things is when i find myself eating at the times i feel most gross about my body. it feels completely helpless.

i loved the idea of writing a letter.

love2eatinpa April 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm

hi kate,
the letter was so huge for me. i was getting honest with myself and with my husband. it was a huge turning point.
i totally know that helpless feeling you are talking about, but if i can be in recovery, anyone can!

Kate April 5, 2010 at 5:02 pm

thanks for responding! that’s really nice of you.
i think that putting things in writing makes a huge difference. it’s like a contract with yourself. you’re very brave!

love2eatinpa April 5, 2010 at 5:16 pm

aw, i always respond to comments, i like the interaction.
i don’t feel brave, but thanks for saying so. :)

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