Beyond Full

bingeCompulsive overeating is where someone feels compelled to eat when they are not hungry and cannot stop when they have had enough. It affects more people than both anorexia and bulimia and usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. According to the sources below…

  • Most, but not all, begin to eat compulsively after a period of dieting
  • Most put others first and attend to the needs of other people and not themselves
  • Most, but not all, have some difficulty knowing or expressing their needs
  • Many, but not all, lack clarity about how they feel and cannot manage their feelings properly
  • Most, but not all, have low self worth
  • Most, but not all, need to be liked.

A binge eating episode typically lasts around two hours, but some people binge on and off all day long. Binge eaters often eat even when they’re not hungry and continue eating long after they’re full. They may also gorge themselves as fast as they can while barely registering what they’re eating or tasting.

How it feels:

“I can’t quit food. It is there every day, watching me and testing me at every meal. I can compulsively eat subtly throughout the day, either eating meals twice as large as they should be, or just eating continuously. I may eat the equivalent of six meals in a day, but any one person may see me eat only about three, so it goes unnoticed.

Buying food or eating out with friends can be an immensely uncomfortable experience. I imagine the thoughts of people next to me, urging me to stop, telling me to pick a salad instead of cake.

I also binge eat. I’m not talking about eating a large meal, then sitting happily bloated on the sofa with my trousers unbuttoned. I find myself in an empty house, grabbing as much food as I can, eating more and more. Immediate gratification quickly turns to shame and guilt. I lie in bed feeling sick and dizzy, resisting the urge to make myself throw up.

Telling me I’m fat and that I should stop overeating will not help me. I need support to work through deeper problems causing the pain that makes me eat.

Every stretchmark on my body is a physical reminder of the pain I have, in the same way a self-harmer would view their scars. I feel mocked by every shop that fails to provide clothes I can fit into. I wish every person who sniggers about me could experience how it feels to be hated by the media, society and themselves just because they literally carry their pain”.

(From the Guardian’s ‘What I’m Really Thinking’ column).

Self-diagnosis:

  • Do you feel out of control when you’re eating?
  • Do you think about food all the time?
  • Do you eat in secret?
  • Do you eat until you feel sick?
  • Do you eat to escape from worries, relieve stress, or to comfort yourself?
  • Do you feel disgusted or ashamed after eating?
  • Do you feel powerless to stop eating, even though you want to?

If you answer ‘yes’ to all or most of these, it might be time to seek help from your GP or a health professional. Others have come through it and it’s not something to be ashamed of.

Here are some places/links that may help:

Emotional eating: a guide to what it is and how to challenge it

NHS resources

B-eat

If you’re struggling, don’t condemn yourself. Find someone safe and tell them how you feel. Naming the issue before Jesus and others is incredibly powerful. The Guardian writer above felt the burden of “carrying their pain” themselves. As Christians,  that’s not something we ever need to do.

8 thoughts on “Beyond Full

  1. Based on your posts of the last few days, I can’t quite decide what to do about my ED. My eating is under control now (even though I feel like a compulsive eater most of the time, my dietitian assures me that there is nothing excessive in my food records) and all that remains is for my head to catch up with my body and accept being the size I am. Based on previous experience, this may never happen. And I knew that even when I decided that I couldn’t live with integrity as a Christian whilst maintaining my ED, which is why I decided to fight it regardless of the fear that I might never feel comfortable in my body if I did so.

    Now I feel like my ED has gone. But I am still not happy. And at least with it I had fun. The highs were higher. It was nice to be able to wear clothes I like instead of having to cover up my enormous belly and thighs all the time.

    I’ve got an appointment with the dietitian tonight and I’m thinking of quitting. Only thinking of. There’s a lot of conflict about whether or not this is the right decision. Can I live 100% for Christ if I am always trying to be thinner? I don’t know.

    My ED has cost me so much, but now it’s gone I want it back. Is that really sinful? Reading your recent posts about sexuality and submission to God’s word, I wonder what it looks like to keep submitting my ED to him for the rest of my life instead of taking it back up. Can I? Should I? I really don’t know.

  2. Thanks for sharing Emma, binge eating, along with dieting has been my biggest struggle from the age of about 11. I enjoy a lot of freedom from it now but I still lapse back into old coping mechanisms sometimes. Thank you for continuing to talk about these issues. It certainly reminds me I’m not weird or alone xx

  3. Hi PWP – nice to hear from you: and well done for all you’ve been doing to fight the ED. It’s a long and tiring battle; and I can understand you feeling tired. But as we both know, the ED takes everything from you: and it is a master that takes Christ’s place.

    All of us have difficult relationships with food/sex/our bodies – no-one has “straight”(forward) desires. Also there are genetic factors that will mean some people struggle in particular areas more than others – that’s true for sexuality and it’s true for eating disorders too. So once we acknowledge all this we can be free to admit our struggles.

    God sets out a healthy vision for sex and eating because He is loving and He doesn’t want us enslaving ourselves to selfish or distorted desires.That’s a life-long battle for all of us – not just a few weird strugglers. Every day in the Lord’s Prayer we pray against temptation and to be delivered from the evil one because every day every Christian needs to say ‘No’ to ungodly desires. The freedom Jesus wins us does not mean the absence of those struggles, it means daily engaging those struggles in His strength. This is a daily battle: and for me anyway, it means going an hour at a time. But as we do this, He meets us – and gradually He changes our hearts too, so that we start to feel what we also believe: and to see His beauty above all others. Hope last night’s appt was a help xx

  4. Thanks Emma. I’ve decided, somewhat reluctantly, that I really have to keep going… I want the ED more than I want freedom, but even more than that, I want to be obedient to Christ. So on I plod…

  5. Describes me exactly :( No wonder I struggle to lose weight!!! Thank you for all your love and support sister x

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