My Binge Triggers

Last time I posted about binge eating or BED, a lot of people responded positively and were excited to think about that conversation (check out this post I wrote: You Don’t Have Binge Eating Disorder).

So, I’ll be posting a little bit more often about my experiences with BED and bingeing– it’s incredibly important to talk about since BED is highly stigmatized.

Last night, I had a bit of a binge. It was the first time I’ve binged since I switched to a plant-based vegan diet (or in about 18 days), which is a very long stretch for me. In that past, I’ve gone through months-long spells where I binge anywhere from 3 to 10 times a week, so an 18-day dry spell is something that I’m proud of. In any case, I did binge last night, and since I’ve been bingeing a lot less, I was able to sit and think. Why am I bingeing right now?

A gave it a thought and came up with this list of triggers for my bingeing. Let me know if you have any of the same.

  1. The end of the month. At the end of every month (whether for a week or a day), my bingeing always spikes, probably because I’m looking to the month ahead, expecting to make a significant dietary change, and telling myself that “Today is the last day– better binge!” subconsciously. The end of December and then January, I had massive binges which lasted pretty much constantly for about ten days. Last month (February) was a bit better, with a much shorter-term binge.
  2. Being with my boyfriend. This is a tricky one. For years, whenever I would see him, he would help me feel less depressed by giving me my favorite foods– rice and beans, ramen noodles, ice cream, etc. That evolved into using him to help me binge. I would visit him and demand that he drive me to a series of fast-food restaurants to satisfy my binge urge, and a toxic pattern developed. Now, even just being with him briefly triggers the urge to eat tons of food, since I’ve associated him with food and being happy. Yikes.
  3. Nighttime. Simple enough.
  4. Small meals early in the day. Pre-binge yesterday, I didn’t prep well enough and had an energy bar for lunch rather than a real meal, so that by the time dinner rolled up, I was a bit over hungry. That didn’t help.
  5. Stress.

Yesterday, I succumbed to the binge, but here’s the thing– because I’m eating a mostly vegan, plant-based diet, I only binged on vegan plant-foods. Did I eat too much? Yep! My stomach was in a LOT of pain. But here’s what I binged on: rice, beans, salad, popcorn, dried dates, some oatmeal, peanut butter, etc. That’s a far cry from the pizza-ramen-hot fudge sundae binges that used to dominate me. I’m not thrilled that my crazy brain still took me for a whirlwind, and that I felt out of control and anxious about the calories– but I’m really glad that I didn’t compromise my food beliefs and that I filled my body with excessive amounts of healthy carbs, fiber, omega-3s and other good things, rather than lots of saturated fat and added sugar.

Nine years of on again-off again bingeing isn’t going to go away in a couple of weeks, no matter what my diet looks like. That’s something that I’m learning. My goal is to reduce the disordered behaviors over time, and hopefully, I will break the binge pattern altogether. Today, I’m working hard to not count calories (and it’s hard). But small steps are good, and learning what my binge triggers are is a small but necessary task.


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