“Think thin thoughts.” I saw the phrase scribbled in a used self-help book I recently purchased.
Immediately, I was taken back to my 250-pound teenage self– sitting in the school cafeteria denying myself food— “Think thin thoughts.”
Web MD has a page dedicated to thinking like a thin person, so there has to be some merit to it, right? Even Google results for “Thoughts of a thin person” is whopping 4,860,000.
This is what happens when your relationship with food (and yourself) is so bad that you are overweight (or morbidly obese in my case), and you think it’s just a matter of being thin (or skinny) that will save you.
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. But you don’t know that when you’re stuck in it… When you’ve been “big boned” your entire life.
I struggled with eating in secret for decades.
Food was my secret lover. I preferred to eat over doing just about anything else.
I ate well past being stuffed. I knew I was satisfied only when I had to unbutton (and unzip) my pants before driving home from the all-you-can-eat buffet.
Eating an entire 12 ct. box of Little Debbie snack cakes while driving home from work wasn’t unheard of either.
I just wanted to eat like a normal person, feel good about myself, be average size, and be happy.
Was that too much to ask?
But the majority of the time, I hoped that my overeating problem would go away on its own.
That one day I’d wake up and not think about food. That I would just eat like a normal person. That food wouldn’t be the highlight of my day.
Of course, that didn’t happen on its own. This isn’t a Disney movie.
I only tried to do anything about my food obsession when the pain and disgust in myself became too real.
…And even then, it felt like such a punishment to be mindful of what I was eating and eat less of it.
At the first sign of a hunger pang, it was all over. Back to binging on whatever was around. It was really easy for me to give up on myself. It never occurred to me that it might take some time, energy, and dedication to change.
Plus, I was unaware of what was actually wrong with me and how to fix it.
When I gave up on myself or felt so much shame, I ate in secret.
My secret food parties began when I was about 8 or 9 years old (from what I can remember) and continued until I was almost 30.
It started innocently with sneaking extra slices of birthday cake at night and escalated into stealing massive amounts of food from my workplace and dumpster diving for donuts.
Sneaking food kept the weight on, lead to my very first (and second) gallstone attacks, made me not want to be intimate with my partner, and could have ended me up in jail for stealing it from my employers.
The food obsession was ugly, and it controlled much of my day.
And in 2009 when I finally was able to lose 150 pounds through exercising consistently for the first time in my life and counting calories, the food addiction was still there.
Remember what I said about the grass not being greener on the other side?
Being thin wasn’t the answer.
The food still knew my name, and it was calling me louder than ever before.
I started to finally realize that I couldn’t escape my issues with food by losing weight. Because the threat was still there and all the hard work in losing the weight could be sabotaged by my own hand and mouth.
I spent 2-3 years trying to help myself beat binge eating (as many of us do).
- I ate “clean” and restricted sugar (until I binge ate on the weekends in secret).
- I read all the diet books about sugar being the enemy.
- I read all the studies that supported the idea that sugar was more addictive than (insert random drug here).
- I attended Over Eater’s Anonymous meetings twice a week.
- I listened to nutrition podcasts.
- I tapped on points on my face, forehead, and collarbone (EFT stuff).
- I wrote letters to my inner child.
- I tried to meditate.
- I recited affirmations to myself.
- I took any and all supplements anyone recommended for sugar addiction.
- I was put up anti-depressants.
- I fasted.
- I went back to church. I prayed a lot.
- I set up rules for when and where I was allowed to eat.
None of that helped me. Sadly.
I thought I knew the solutions. Just do what all those skinny people do. Think thin.
But that led me to the point that I became so out of control with food that I thought I was going INSANE. Literally, insane.
Give me my straight jacket. I. am. done.
Fast forward to today– August 2017. I’ve been binge-free since the winter of 2013.
I still have all the food-party-for-one memories like someone with PTSD has for the traumatic events they’ve experienced.
I go places and have immediate flashbacks about how I used to behave there when I was binging. I can tell you all the food I bought, how I paid for it, and the lies I told the cashier about the special occasion I was celebrating with the ice cream cake, cookies, and pizza.
Some days, I still salivate when I visit one of the stores I used to buy my binge party foods at.
What keeps me from giving into the temptation?
Memories of the past are just that– the past. The present moment doesn’t include binge eating for me. I know that it never helped me feel better… despite what my Cookie Monster brain tried to make me believe at the moment.
I spent so long avoiding the real solution to my binge eating because I was afraid of confronting my shame. The ugly parts of my life. And how I numb them with food and alcohol (and anything else that helped me avoid life).
Eventually, you choose to lean in and experience all the feels, or you continue to bullshit yourself.
I was done bullshitting.
If you’re ready to stop the BS too, you can learn my 3-part process for stopping a binge in my FREE training: Stop Binge Eating Today(ish). Break the rules of dieting, outsmart your uncontrollable cravings, and never call yourself a food addict again!
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