This is quite a touchy subject, as you might expect, but one I feel I need to get out into the open…
(Warning: This may be triggering for some people.)
Long time readers of this blog will know that I used to weigh 17 stone. The reason for that was because I ate loads. No excuses, I went into a job where I was surrounded by vending machines, amazing restaurants and copious biscuits. I don’t think any emotion came into it back then. I just ate nice things because I enjoyed it.
I’ve always been bigger than everyone else but I had a boyfriend, I had friends, what did it matter? That was all the mind set I needed to get to 17 stone.
I then got into fashion. I stopped being a Goth-grunger hybrid and had to start wearing normal, pretty clothes. They weren’t as easy to hide behind as the hoodies and baggy jeans. When shopping became a nightmare, I decided to lose weight. That was in 2009 and since then I’ve lost five stone. I got down to just under 12 stone. Then I went on holiday…
We booked an all inclusive holiday to Turkey. I’m not one to worry about what I eat when trying to relax, life’s too short for that. So, I ate everything. Three plates of food four times a day plus more alcohol than I’m willing to admit.
I knew I would put on weight. I wasn’t too worried about that. (I put on half a stone.) What I didn’t anticipate was the switch that would be thrown in my head. That sort of no-holds-barred eating broke my willpower. I don’t think it helped that we then drove to Sweden and I then went to Venice.
I tried to get back on track but everything just spiralled out of control.
I kept this secret for a while. No one knew but me and the bin men. During the average working day I’d be struck with a huge craving for something naughty. I’d get myself on Just Eat and would order some food. The minimum delivery charges meant that this was often a large pizza, garlic bread, mozzarella sticks and potato skins. I’d eat most of it then throw the rest away, nicely hidden in the bottom of the bin.
I would occasionally go to the shop and buy crisps, chocolate, pizza and all sorts of yummy things too. I’d eat it all.
I decided to start habit app on my iPad. You basically just check the days you succeed with that habit. The longest streak I managed to not binge eat was eight days. Eight. The weight soon started to creep up. I was 12 stone 9lbs.
After eating all that crap, I’d feel guilty. I’d snap at Ben. I couldn’t concentrate and I wanted to cry. This was part of the vicious circle. I’d feel terrible for days, I couldn’t bring myself to exercise and then I’d repeat the whole thing again.
All the emotions that came with this were overwhelming. Not only was I feeling guilty but I felt ashamed of myself. I’d also lost all the will power I’d built up over the years and I felt like I was sinking.
I felt depressed. I was crying a lot, feeling generally gloomy and worst of all, it was affecting my relationship with Ben. We were arguing more than ever and I couldn’t explain to him why I was in a mood. I was angry and snappy for no reason.
Eating disorders aren’t just limited to bulimia and anorexia. Take a look at the NHS’ page on Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Although there were times when I did want to purge, I never did. I really feel for people who go through this cycle and include throwing up all the food they’ve eaten too.
I was only a few steps from going to the doctor about this but I didn’t want to be laughed at. Why is it we live in a world where we should be made to feel like that by medical professionals? I felt like all I’d be told to do was go on a diet when that was not the problem. I knew what I should be eating but I was out of control.
I decided to start telling people that I was secret eating. I wouldn’t tell them about specific instances where I’d done so, only that I was doing it. Most people didn’t really seem to care or they’d look at me disapprovingly. I’d get comments about how I’d never lose weight or that I was spending a fortune so should stop buying pizza. No one really understood that it wasn’t that easy.
Well, one person did. I was talking with Bunn the Baker on our LONG walk a couple of weekends ago. I mentioned the binges and secret eating and how it was screwing my life up and throwing me in to a bit of a depression (although I may have been a bit more light-hearted about it than that). She mentioned that I should come to Slimming World with her to get my eating habits back on track.
Later on she sent me my ‘before’ picture and said something along the lines of ‘next time you want to order from Just Eat, look at this.’
Just knowing that someone cared meant that I had someone to be accountable to. Someone who would ask if I’d binged and was rooting for me not to. I have binged once since and that was hangover-induced and nothing emotional.
I joined Slimming World (weighing 12 stone 9lbs) and fully intend to lose 7lbs in my first week. The food guides and meal planning helps but the thought of stepping on a scale and talking about my week of food is exactly what I need. People are paying attention to what I’m doing and care if I fuck up. Because of that, I care again. I don’t know why I didn’t, or if I’m past this but I feel better. (Although writing this has been a little triggering and I want to cry…)
Of course, I’m not qualified to give out advice. You should probably go and see a doctor or call an eating disorder helpline (call Beat. Adults: 0845 634 1414. People under 25: 0845 634 7650) in the first instance but here’s a little about what I’ve learnt.
- Talk to people. It doesn’t matter who, family, friends, the internet. Don’t suffer alone.
- Work out why. Why are you over eating? Are you bored? Can you replace the eating with something that won’t make you feel guilty? Perhaps go for a run?
- Simulate a binge. Instead of ordering pizza can you make yourself a healthier version? Same goes for chips, curry and Chinese food. It’s still a bit damaging, emotionally, but at least you’ll be consuming fewer calories and a hell of a lot less fat.
- Find a support group. It might be one friend who understands, or a group like Slimming World. Find someone or something to vent your frustrations and emotions to rather than burying it all in food.
It felt right to write this post and put it here. I just wanted to share what I’ve been through in the hope that it might help one person who is struggling.