BED…Let’s talk

Let’s talk BED talk. This not about what you are probably thinking. This is about an eating disorder called BED (Binge Eating Disorder). BED is very common, and goes undiagnosed and even unrecognized as a disorder in most people who suffer from it. A person with BED is most likely to be the type of person who will overeat, and then promise themselves that tomorrow they will start a diet. And because tomorrow they will start a diet, they binge and overeat on all of their favorite foods before tomorrow comes. The problem is that tomorrow never comes, and ends up being a repeat of yesterday.

BED almost always occurs when no one else is around. The refrigerator will get raided when everyone either leaves the house, or goes to sleep. This binge type of eating disorder is just as serious as a person with a drug or cigarette addiction. Any addiction is hard to break, and there is no one simple way to overcome an addiction. Everyday is a struggle for a person who desires to break a bad habit that they know is self-destructive. BED is usually a nervous and/or anxious habit. Sort of like when a person bites their nails, or pulls out their eyelashes, or grinds their teeth. One may not ever realize what they are doing until they are in pain. A person with BED will eat until their stomach hurts without consciously thinking about it. That’s when the guilt comes in. That guilt is when the decision to deprive themselves and start a strict diet comes into play. But the next day is the same as the day before because they can’t help themselves. They will just keep putting off changing their habits until the next thing you know, they’ve gained another 15 – 20 pounds.

It really is a food addiction. I suffered from BED, but I have made progress in keeping it at bay. Here is how I did it:

Try to keep company around you, and be active. This is the best advice I can give because you’re not going to binge in front of anyone. So keep yourself surrounded or around company as much as possible. Try to avoid being alone too much, and try to stay busy. I recommend getting a 2nd job at the YMCA, or a gym facility, GNC, or at Weight Watchers. Get a 2nd job somewhere that motivates you to be healthy. Maybe even enroll in school and take nutrition classes at a local community college, or focus on becoming an expert within your career by furthering your education.

Another thing you can do if you want to avoid having too much time on your hands, but don’t want a 2nd job is to volunteer at a homeless shelter. I did this, and it really helped put things into perspective for me. There are people out there who are starving. Knowing this is one thing, but seeing it first hand and helping them can really change your life. Some of those people hadn’t eaten in days, and here I was gorging on food unnecessarily. Don’t just think of this as good advice, really pursue finding a shelter that you can volunteer at and do it. I promise it will change your mind-set on bingeing.

People with BED tend to lie about what they ate to others, so if you know someone who is overweight who you suspect has BED, instead of going out to eat, go wall climbing, hiking, walking or skating with them. Do an activity instead of going out to eat. It’s hard to tell if a person has BED because it’s a big secret that they probably would never admit to. Primarily because they are embarrassed and don’t want to be judged, or helped by someone who doesn’t understand what they are suffering from. It’s not as easy as some may think. People say things like, “Just stop eating when your full.” But if it was that simple BED wouldn’t be a disorder. It’s very hard to simply stop when they are full. Its like telling a drug addict, “don’t buy drugs, and then you won’t be able to use them.” It’s just not that easy. When things are accessible to us, and the only thing stopping you from indulging is will-power, which you lack in that area, it’s very tough.

If you can, see a therapist and/or get your anxiety under control with medication. If BED is a nervous/anxiety habit for you, taking a fat burner or appetite suppressant won’t work. You need something that will help you relax instead. See a licensed doctor to help you overcome anxiety attacks and nerve problems.

One of the many things that helped me overcome BED without seeing a therapist was the following statement; “today is tomorrow”. I used to repeat that to myself while looking in the pantry for something to eat when I was not hungry. I would look for a snack and eat it and say, “I’ll just start over tomorrow.” Well, sometimes you have to remind yourself, “Today is tomorrow.” Pray for BED recovery, go to sleep, then wake up and repeat, “today is tomorrow” when you catch yourself saying, “I’ll eat this today, and start over tomorrow.”

I also avoided watching TV as much as possible. I wrote an article called “TV Gave Me the Munchies“, and it was so true. Those marketing and sales tactics work. They know how to create commercials that entice us to want what they are selling.

What really helped me in the beginning was I would cry and go to sleep early to avoid bingeing. Crying is therapeutic, and helps you go to sleep because it is draining. When I was suffering BED, and I was confused about why I was wanting stuff without being hungry, I would get frustrated and cry. But crying made me sleepy, so then I would fall asleep without having binge. I know this may sound terrible to someone who doesn’t have BED, but it worked for me. I cried myself to sleep many nights, and woke up ready to conquer BED the next day. It really is a daily struggle.

Another thing that really helps me overcome BED was sharing my food. This was a big one because I was a stingy binger. I remember buying my friend a small fry because I knew she’d want some of mine, and I wasn’t even about to share with her, and I am serious. I was so stingy. Now, I share everything. I always offer some of my food. Practice doing this if you are stingy with food and suffer from BED. It will help cut back on your portions. Avoid all you can eat buffets too. My dad said something to me that was funny, but made a lot of sense: “Every time I eat, I eat all I can eat.” In other words, whether you eat a small portion or large portion you will be full. It’s a mental thing that says, “I’m starving, I need lots of food”, and that is not true. Instead say, “I am starving, I need something to eat and drink.” Drink and eat a regular portion of food and you will be full.

There is no quick diet or 90 day workout plan that will work for a person with BED alone. One piece of advice that I am taking myself, is to create a year challenge for yourself. For example, I am doing P90X now (for the 4th time) which is a 90 day workout challenge. After the 90 days is up, I am going to try Insanity for 60 days. After Insanity I am going to do Shaun T’s T-25. I’d also like to do a Zumba class and boxing class to maintain. This challenge will take me over a year to complete. People who need a lifestyle change need annual challenges, not short 90 day challenges. I believe it takes at least a year to break bad habit/ addiction, and a lifetime of practice to steer clear of the habit.

As far as  how a person with BED should eat once they decide to try to stop bingeing; plan your meals, and have them ready to go by preparing them the night before so it’s a no brainer the next day. You can truly eat whatever you want so long as you stay within your allotted calorie range. I would say keep healthy snacks instead of bad snacks around the house, but that doesn’t always work. A person with BED will binge on granola! I know I did at one point. With diet comes focus.

You have to focus on what your goals are, and what you are doing. Generally speaking, when we don’t focus is when we fall off track no matter what goals you are trying to accomplish. Stay focused, and surround yourself with things that can help you stay focused on getting healthy. I channeled my nervous/anxiety habit towards something more productive. I channeled the inner strength in me and made myself focus on getting into shape. Being healthy became my new addiction. I never took anxiety medication, but for some it will be necessary. For me, I chose to breath and meditate through my anxiety.

Most of the time I was nervous and anxious and had no idea why I was feeling that way. I shut out the world by turning off my: cell phone, TV, computer, and music. I would sit and listen to birds and squirrels and simply meditate and focus on my breathing. Light a candle or incense and take big deep breaths and long exhales. It relaxes you  better than any cigarette or drug. Make a habit of tracking you daily food intake. Be aware of what you are doing. Most people with BED are not aware of how much they’ve consumed until after the fact. Be aware at all times. Binge eaters do this subconsciously and then come to a reality of what just happened afterwards. Stay conscious by staying focused.

Re-build your self-esteem while you are in the process of overcoming BED. Beauty for me always starts with a smile, nice perfume, a hairstyle and new outfit. When I felt disgusted with my mirror image, I would shower, put on some perfume, and do my hair. I would go to Goodwill to find clothes that fit until I loss the weight and could fit my old clothes again. No matter what size you are, wearing clothes that fit properly always makes you look better. Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes because they only make you look bigger; they do not suck you in. You’ll feel better about yourself when you look in the mirror. Practice doing your makeup, or find a beauty hobby like doing your nails or hair. Pull yourself together, and get serious about making yourself happy again.

BED is not the END. It can stop when you are ready, but it definitely will not be easy. It is just as tough of a challenge as breaking any other addiction. Keep yourself surrounded with supportive and understanding people, and take things one day at a time. I realize this advice may not help everyone. This is what helps me overcome binge eating. Keep in mind that just when you thought you had overcame BED, you can relapse and have a bingeing episode later in life. You may never overcome BED, but you can have it under control. It’s a daily effort that I stay conscious of at all times.

Please leave a comment below if you have overcome BED, and would like to give more advice that could help someone in serious need.

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