The husband ordered some new tyres and inners for my bike last night. After a very emotional week it’s a relief to know at the weekend I can get out and do some non weight bearing movement with my family. Because contrary to the popular consensus of those that have no clue about disordered eating, I’m not constantly on my bum, doing absolutely nothing, but then I’ve mentioned that already this week, so I shall move on, slightly, or sideways, to the topic of overeating, and more so, responses to the idea of overeating.
“It’s an excuse to eat all the food people love”
“It’s what lazy people say because they can’t be bothered to look after themselves”
“Childhood, depression, anxiety, they’re all excuse for people to keep eating”
These are the sort of comments from the internet warriors, who refuse to accept Emotional Overeating is a real psychological situation that needs support. So let me explain, as so many have before me, what happens during a binge.
First come the feelings, unbearable, crushing emotions. I don’t want to deal with these. I don’t know how to deal with these. I want it all to go away. I want to shut up these voices, this constant chatter going round and round in my head “You’re worthless, useless, ugly, your life would be better if you were thinner, more in control, more fit”. I make a journey to the shop, grab a basket, fill with crisps, chocolate, all those foods that have brought comfort in the past. Silently going through the check out, rushing to the car, ripping open a bar to eat as I drive. Getting home I grab the food, run inside, throw the food into the lounge and sit and eat. Not thinking, not tasting. Just eating. Bite after bite. Crisp after crisp. Then the last packet is empty. I sit there. Realisation starting to dawn of what has just happened. How many thousands of calories did I not taste? If I don’t make it to the shop, I may start by looking in the freezer, cooking some oven chips, then it takes off I’m raiding the kitchen, piles of bread slathered with margarine, bowls of cereal. Everything to numb the mind and silence the chatter. But then it is all over and I sit there, disgusted, still anxious, still with the previous worries that led me here in the first place. For me, this would end in the inevitable purging to get rid of it all.
During all this, I know what I’m doing isn’t helping. I could probably even tell you the calorific value of it all. I love food, but that’s not why I’ve binged. I’ve binged because I know that however temporary, the worries and stresses vanish, and the taste of foods I love pass fleetingly through my mouth. But what makes it even more tragic is that not only do I sit with the mental and emotional guilt of having eaten all that food, but I sit with the physical discomfort of overeating, the burst blood vessels around my eyes from bringing it back up again. I feel even more disgusted and self loathing than I did beforehand. This is not because I love myself so much I want to treat myself. It’s more because I loathe myself so much that punishment and temporary comfort go hand in hand.
So it saddens me when people who don’t understand say it’s because we love food. I guess there are different levels of emotional overeating. Not everyone goes to the extent that I have described. Some people just eat a little more than they should. But for those of us who find feelings and emotions virtually impossible to deal with, we do need support. Maybe it is counselling, maybe it is just good friends to talk to. But what we definitely need is to learn to love ourselves, to accept ourselves, and to be allowed to nurture ourselves. Calories in/calories out isn’t even an issue here. Exercising more is lovely advice once we find something we enjoy and learn how great the endorphins are that come from exercising. But what we need is for the people who don’t “get” overeating to just Shut Up. We won’t eat you.