Confessions of a Compulsive Over-Eater
It took me a long time to realise I had a problem. If you’ve been following a while, you know the basics of my story. Shot up to around 22.5 stone at the age of 22 having been getting progressively bigger throughout my teen years. I could see it happening, but I just couldn’t stop.
It has taken almost my entire adult life to realise that I use food for everything, and I mean everything. Something happy that needs celebrating? Lets eat. Something sad happened and I need to drown my sorrows? Lets eat. Feeling nervous or anxious about something? You guessed it, eat. Eating has always been a way of showing affection to me too, if I want to treat my boyfriend, my mum etc, I usually do it with food.
I’m a serial over-eater, and I’m an emotional eater and it’s compulsive and excessive. I’m not talking a chocolate bar to reward hard work or to ‘make myself feel better’ I’m talking an entire multi pack, followed by a multi pack of crisps, followed by a takeaway. It has taken incredible strength during my journey to stay consciously aware of when I’m doing this, and why I’m doing it. The scariest thing of all, sometimes it’s subconscious. Sometimes, I can go through a week-long eating binge and not even realised I’ve lost control, or why I’ve done it.Sometimes when I was in my late teens, my parents would recognise the food issues I had, and do their absolute best to try and keep me on the right track. When they would go to bed, I’d sneak out, I’d hit the drive through and I’d stuff my face with fast food in secret. The shame that came with secret eating was immense, but it still didn’t stop me.
My Graduation was one of the proudest days of my life, but I hide the pictures. I only use them for comparison to the ‘newer’ me, there’s no proud graduation picture sat on my mantle piece, or in fact anywhere that can be seen. That period of my life was my heaviest, and when I was most out of control.
This is the picture that sparked the change, and that’s where I am at now, I’m happier, I’m healthier and I’m about 4 and a half stone lighter. But it’s a constant battle. I won’t lie and pretend it’s come easy because it hasn’t and I still have times that I sabotage myself and then spend days angry at myself for my inability to resist food. Other times, I can’t be broken and I’m 100% focused. The rollercoaster of weight loss, sound familiar?
I wanted to write down how I’ve learned to cope better with my food addiction, and little tips and tricks that may help you along too if you’ve seen any of yourself in my words. Did you know scientists argue that certain sugars in food are more addictive than some Class A Drugs? So when you feel guilty and ashamed of your food problems, remember it’s an addiction the same as any others.
Tips to help conquer food addiction
- Exercise – This may seem obvious, the gym helps with weight loss and fitness. But my advice here isn’t to go from 0 to 100% and become an athlete. What I mean is, when that moment strikes, and you ‘need’ to binge on food, go out for a walk, go to the gym, get moving. It will distract you, even better it’ll have the opposite effect of your binge and it will aid your weight loss. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good, counteract the part of your brain telling you that you need to eat (when you don’t) with the part of your brain that makes you feel great when you work out. Doesn’t need to be a gym session, go for a walk. It works, I promise. This is something I’ve been doing since day one to help me overcome my demons, take a look at my post from over 2 years ago on Facebook..
- Talk to yourself – Well, not quite. Think to yourself. When my brain tells me I need Ben and Jerry’s when I’ve had a really good day, or I need something fatty or sugary to excess, I constantly remind myself “food does not control me”. I tell myself I got into this mess because of those urges, I remind myself I’m sweating and struggling in the gym 4 times a week to burn fat because of those urges, I remind myself the damage I’ve done to my body over these years is because of my inability to say no to food. This doesn’t work every time, but it does work. Your reminders to yourself of where you are and where you need to be, will override the need to binge.
- Surround yourself with good food – Having crisps and chocolate in the house for use in “moderation” is a danger to those with a food addiction. I try to avoid having too many sweet things in the house that I can easily access, because on a bad day I could eat it all in one sitting. Instead stock up on fruit, veg, eggs, and other things you can easily snack on when needed that won’t sabotage your diet.
- Talk about it! – This is SO important. Food addiction/compulsive over-eating/obsessive eating, they are all addictions and you shouldn’t have to have these problems in silence, that’s when the potential secret eating could develop. Confide in similar people on the Slimming World Facebook Groups, talk to a friend, even message me! Talking it out, saying it out loud and acknowledging your problems are a great way to fix them.