Tried Binge Eating, It Was Hard To Stop
started as an article but since I'm having trouble stopping
binge eating, I'm going to blog it until I've lost the 10
pounds I gained. Skip to Blog at bottom of
eating is in the news. It may be the most prevalent eating
disorder effecting 3.5 % of woman and 2% of men in the US
according to a recent Harvard Medical School study.
eaters typically eat until uncomfortably full, then keep eating
anyway. Binge eaters may feel guilt and anxiety in regards
to eating and body image. While this disorder is medically
described and limited to about 5% of the population it seems
to me that most people in their lifetime will eat like this
occasionally if not often.
suggests that as we eat larger amounts of food, we require
larger amounts of food to feel satisfied from eating. The
hormones that make us feel full and satisfied are released
in smaller quantities, and the hormones that make us feel
hungry are released in larger quantities.
this may be part of what drives binge eating (eating huge
amounts of calories at one time; over 1000 and upwards to
3000), addiction appears to be in the drivers seat. Addiction
is nasty. It clouds judgment and just when you feel you might
be escaping along come the withdrawal symptoms to drag you
pass this information on in workshops I do, and to my weight
loss clients. I talk about how important it is to do cognitive
therapy to help stop the internal drive to keep eating- just
like a widely accepted body of research suggests.
wanted to understand binge eating a little more intimately
so I decided to binge eat and do a wait-and-see.
first few days actually felt pretty good emotionally. If I
liked the flavor of something, I ate more of it. Cereal, peanut
butter and jam sandwiches, and very healthy salads were my
main binge foods. Overeating salads? You read that right.
When you overeat by 1000+ calories it doesn't matter where
the calories come from - it's all extra calories.
a week I noticed a change emotionally; I craved eating more,
I mean I really craved eating. I can't say I was really
feeling hungry, I just wanted to eat and I didn't feel satisfied
unless I did.
came the chocolate. I had a few brands of dark chocolate and
would "taste test" them one after the other. Enough
Chocolate, time for another peanut butter and jam sandwich.
My gut feels like it's going burst. I don't feel very good
anymore. I feel physically uncomfortable, guilty for eating
so much, and wondering if I should call off my dumb experiment.
just ate 2500 calories worth of chocolate, cereal, peanut
butter and jam, and salad in about 1 hour. Time to go train.
During this overeating experiment I did not stop my early
season training for the 2007 season of local competitive cycling.
Training feels uncomfortable with a footballs worth of food
in your gut.
burned off 1500 in a training ride. This caused me to justify
eating more. This doesn't make any sense because I had overeaten
by almost 3000 calories on this day and 1500 calories only
cuts into half that. But I rationalize it anyway and ate more.
My gut still wasn't empty from my binge a few hours ago and
I still ate another 1000 calories.
next day I was so disgusted with myself I fought the still
increasing desire to eat. I was successful for two days. I
could not shake the desire to eat and started shoveling it
down again. After about three and half weeks and a 10 pound
gain I decided enough was enough - I have now experienced
the almost remote control eating machine desire to eat and
it's time to get back to healthy eating.
didn't work. I found myself rationalizing; I can burn this
off tomorrow, I'm an athlete I can turn this around anytime
one more day wont hurt, I've already blown it today, might
as well keep eating now, etc.
fact was I felt like crap. I felt more lethargic, my gut was
getting fatter, I was harming my health and making excuses
to do so. If I didn't overeat I felt worse, agitated, thinking
of how I can justify eating more, and then just eating. Can
the addictive process take hold this quickly? Yes.
took another three weeks of telling myself about health risks,
adding up calories, and cutting back on food to begin to reduce
the fierce desire to keep eating. Now I'm back to healthy
eating again. Apparently after a couple weeks of sustaining
sensible caloric intake our hormones will readjust and we
won't have such a disparity between the hormones that make
us hungry and those that make us feel full.
did I learn?
eating made me lose control. It didn't matter how much I know
about the science of nutrition and exercise. It didn't matter
that I burn off 10,000 calories per week in exercise, I overate
and I gained fat. I felt like I was going crazy, it felt like
I had little control over cravings and eating.
binge thing is nasty business. It felt like I was trying to
quit smoking again. Smoking was an addiction, binge eating
was the same. For me the irrational desire to eat and the
irrational desire to smoke felt the same. In the end it was
most likely easier for me to stop binge eating than it is
for many who are battling it, as for me it was short term,
I knew I was doing it, and I had a very strong desire to stop
and get on with my cycling training - which includes maintaining
a competition weight.
being said binge eating and overeating in general can be reversed.
It does take a strong cognitive component and re - associating
our sense of reward with healthy actions.
a person develops coping with addiction and is rewarded with
the small successes that come with making small positive steps
each day, I think they will be on their way to reversing their
typical restaurant meals are well over 2000 calories. This
means whether you intend to or not, you could very well be
binge eating in terms of calories when you eat out. I knew
I was binge eating, but many may not know they are. Overeating
mega calories at one sitting may not be accompanied by emotional
turmoil, some may simply overeat. Take a look at your eating
patterns; if you eat typical restaurant food, and if you go
back for seconds and thirds at the buffet or at home, you
may very well be a binge eater in terms of calories. Whether
or not you feel out of control with eating, mega calorie meals
harm health and everyone who does this ought to think about
changing the way they eat.
weeks 6 (3.5 weeks of weight gain, 3.5 weeks to quit binge
Total weight gained 10 lb 4.5 kg
Increase in waist girth from 80.6 cm to 84 cm (31.7 to 33
5, 2007 - in the last 6 weeks I've burned off about 44,000
calories in training (not including other daily activity)
and gained fat.
180 lb. Waist 84 cm. Abdominal skin fold 7mm, iliac 5.5mm.
No exercise today. Overate by about 2000 calories.
have not been as successful as I thought I was at quitting
binge eating. If I wasn't training, I would be gaining fat
in the extreme. I have yet to go more than 4 days in a row
without pigging out. I tend to fall into the binge habit on
days I don't train. Maybe there's a connection. This is turning
out to be a problem. Today I overate at breakfast and told
myself it was OK because I had two training sessions to do.
I ended up doing no training and justifying it as a recovery
day, feeling tired and eating more. Went out for dinner: Spinach
salad with chicken breast - healthy, but didn't need the calories,
making it unhealthy. Chocolate mousse dessert - stupid. As
soon as I got home (about 10 minutes after dinner) I had a
slice of bread I baked today.. with chocolate honey on it.
Then I ate a bowl of cereal with chocolate milk. My gut is
stuffed and I feel like crap.
have never experienced this with eating before. I guess you
have to be careful what you ask for - I wanted to see if I
would experience the addictive properties that can occur with
binge eating. I've either psyched myself into perceiving that
I have, or I really have. Either way the outcome is the same:
This is unhealthy and It must stop.
Still rationalize training as an excuse to "do it tomorrow"
(cut back on eating). Training is going great, consistent
improvements in fitness. Still 10 pounds overweight. I lost
a few pounds, then put it back on again. I find myself fooling
myself with thoughts of "as soon as my training hours
pick up in a few weeks I'll blow this fat off in no time".
Only problem is I used that excuse a few weeks ago. Maybe
blogging my progress will help me stay true.
healthy. 500 - 700 calorie deficit
battled wanting to eat more at breakfast today, but managed
to overcome it and ate about 500 cal. Exercise caloric expenditure
today was about 1700 calories from training and about 600
calories worth of walking. Afternoon eating was no problem.
No cravings to battle. The walk at noon may have helped suppress
the binge cravings. I spoke to a couple of my clients about
my binge eating escapades and we had laugh and open discussion
about how we tell our selves lies to enable our poor eating
choices. Talking helped put things in perspective.
healthy. 300 - 500 calorie deficit
and lunch were fine. No cravings until dinner time, but did
not give in. Told myself, "it will feel good now to eat
more, but it will be unhealthy and feel worse later."
Exercise was light today - about 800 calories worth.
healthy. 300 calorie deficit
176.4 lb. Waist 83.6cm. Abdominal skin fold 6.6mm. Iliac 4.5mm.
blew it today. Had a strong craving to keep eating in the
afternoon but stopped. Evening training blew off 900 calories
but rest of day was quite sedentary - whole day in front of
the computer working - I had a brief escape doing a radio
interview with Charles
Adler on his national radio show today. We were talking
tests and fitness assessments. One day at a time. Looking
forward to 4 days in a row without overeating. Check in tomorrow
to see if I manage to do so. I make my blog entries late in
healthy. 300 calorie deficit
time in weeks I have made it 4 days in a row without overeating.
Thought I would train more today, but was too fatigued from
hard training earlier in the week. On days that I assume a
larger training load I eat more for breakfast but today I
decided to hold back to wait and see if I was able to do hard
training. Good thing I didn't eat the calories. I had slight
cravings today, but didn't give way to them. Burned off 900
calories in training.
healthy, but overate by about 300 calories.
pretty lethargic today. Felt too tired at end of day to train.
Not too happy about it. Since starting the binge experiment
I have felt fatigued and lethargic more often than what I'm
healthy. 1000 calorie deficit.
deficit was easy today with 2100 calories burned in training
and no cravings of any kind. Recently the day's I feel an
irrational desire to eat are the days I don't exercise, or
don't exercise until late in the day. I'll weigh in tomorrow.
You may be wondering how I am determining "eating healthy".
- I use nutrition software to calculate total vitamins, minerals,
and calories in the food I eat. I don't take vitamin pills
because I easily get all my vitamins from food.
this free web based software from Dietitians of Canada
Overate 300 calories when exercise caloric expenditure is
considered, but binged out at 1500 calories, then at 1000
calories at once.
Weight 175 lb. Waist 83.3 cm. Abdominal skin fold 7mm. Iliac
started great with a healthy breakfast. Ate a healthy lunch.
Cravings started in the early afternoon. Contemplated early
afternoon workout - didn't do it. Ate a peanut butter and
jam sandwich, then another. My gut started to feel uncomfortably
full. I thought, "I haven't really over done it yet..
plus I'll workout tonight, I'll be OK." - this was irrational
denial thinking. Then I ate a bowel of cereal and another
PBJ. Now my gut was stuffed and I was quite uncomfortable.
I could feel my heart beating harder. I had a huge craving
to keep eating, but thought "this is crazy", and
didn't eat anymore.
walked to the gym and worked out burning off about 1700 calories
in total - not quite enough to offset the earlier bingeing.
The workout was a little uncomfortable with my gut feeling
stuffed. It took from 4:00 pm to midnight for my stuffed gut
feeling to subside. That's 8 hours of being physically uncomfortable
from binge eating. My liver must be taking a beating. Emotionally
I felt more angry than anything else. Angry for letting myself
down. This is definitely like quitting smoking. I have a craving
to eat, but I am not hungry, in fact I'm stuffed full and
still eating. If I have a craving again I'll try leaving the
room or some other physical and mental coping mechanism to
divert my attention from food.
is another day.
healthy. 600 to 700 calorie deficit.
cravings today but didn't give in. Burned off 2600 calories
in training. Here's my training summary info for today's ride
(Using Polar Precision Performance software.)
off this many calories can make it seem easy to have a caloric
deficit, but today's deficit is at most 700 calories - that's
a quick meal of one peanut butter and jam sandwich with a
banana and glass of milk - not much food. I could have easily
overeaten today despite how much I burned off.
I am at one day of not overeating again. I made it 4 days
last time, this time my goal is to make 5 days without bingeing.
Come back and see what happens.
healthy. No calorie deficit or surplus - broke even today.
fairly strong cravings but overcame. Made fresh baked bread
today and wanted to keep eating it. Burned off about 800 calories
in exercise today. That's 2 day's with no overeating - only
3 more to go for a new record.
healthy food, but overate. No binge today but still overate
by about 500 - 700 calories due giving in to cravings.
planning to train in the evening but ran out of time. I should
have trained earlier in the day, but procrastinated and paid
the price. When I got home in the evening I ate about 700
calories that I didn't need. It's a little odd.. my enthusiasm
for training has decreased since I went on the binge experiment..
I haven't felt this unmotivated to train in.. uh.. well never
before. It's only my trained discipline that is keeping me
going, my internal natural motivation has decreased and I
need to bring it back. While I didn't binge today I still
gave into cravings that resulted in overeating so I'm going
start over again in my goal to go 5 days in row with no bingeing/
overeating. Tomorrow is day 1 again.
of the habits of those who successfully lose 30 pounds and
keep it off for 5 years is expecting failures, but expecting
to overcome them and move forward. I usually tell my clients
this, but now I'm telling myself. This is a failure today,
but today's failure is over and tomorrow is another day.
healthy. 600 -700 calorie deficit. Burnt of about 2600 calories
in training/ walking.
cravings at lunch but didn't give in. As I was reaching for
the cupboard for more food I said to myself, "I've got
to stop right now, turn around, and walk away". And I
did. I spoke to a few more clients about my binge experiment
and they're saying, "now you know what I go through".
Indeed I do. This is much more mentally challenging than I
thought. As I mentioned before, it's the same experience I
had when quitting smoking over 20 years ago. You really have
to be fully committed to overcome the cravings. I seriously
want to get back to normal and I will. If weren't fully committed
there is no way I could turn this around. Even though I feel
awful physically and emotionally after binge eating, the cravings
are so strong at the time they are difficult to overcome.
The compulsive drive is completely irrational and requires
some serious cognitive focus to not give in to the cravings
that feel so good at the time to satisfy. I know I need two
weeks of binge free eating to "reset" the dopamine
response to eating and to normalize hormones that regulate
hunger and feeling full. My objective right now is to get
to 5 days. Once I achieve that goal, I'll work on adding more
day's until I reach two weeks.
is a recovery day for training - only 30 minutes. Will have
to eat less and be ready to deal with cravings.
175.2 lb Waist girth 83.3 cm Abdominal skin fold 6.5 Iliac
healthy. Calories balanced today.
expected to have cravings today after breakfast and had none.
I even tried to talk myself into feeling a craving to see
if I could trigger the effect.. I opened the cupboard to the
peanut butter.. nothing. No craving. At lunch I had a PBJ
with banana which in the past has served well as a trigger
to crave eating another one right away. I did have the very
slightest craving. Maybe the best way to explain it is experiencing
the memory of a craving but not really having the real deal.
After dinner (mixed salad with salmon) I experienced a a mild
craving and downed 1/2 a cup of chocolate milk and a couple
grapes and then put a stop to it. No further cravings. No
training today, but did a couple hours of shopping duties.
That may have been enough activity to offset cravings.
made some charts of my measurements for the binge eating experiment
from the start up to today. I've been tracking this data in
an Excel spreadsheet.
Healthy. About a 500 calorie deficit today
cravings after breakfast or lunch. Slight hunger cravings
after dinner, but not the irrational kind that I experienced
when bingeing. I waited 10 minutes and the feeling went away.
This is typical as turning off the hunger sensation is delayed
10 to 20 minutes after eating. I needed another snack after
dinner to get up to a 500 calorie deficit otherwise it would
have been a 1000 calorie deficit and I don't want too many
of those as it would push the limits of a healthy deficit.
attempted to psych myself into a craving after my last snack
but my immediate response was "not interested".
I'll wait and see of course, but it appears I may be starting
to exit the effects that the experiment has had on me. I'm
starting to get back some of the pragmatic view I had towards
food that I am used to: Eat for sustenance, make the sustenance
off 1100 calories in training. This is 3 days in a row without
overeating. Last record was 4. Still looking for 5 days...
Healthy. About a 700 calorie deficit.
cravings today. Blew off 3000 calories in training so had
to eat a lot today - over 4000 calories. Had some triple chocolate
cake to make up for some carb and fat calories. Of course
I ate ton's of veggies and whole grains as well. I thought
the big calorie intake would trigger cravings but it didn't.
I was worried about eating too much. When I had about 1700
calories remaining to balance intake, I had to tell myself
to eat a couple more times because a 1700 calorie deficit
is unhealthy. I ate two more times (500 calories each). I
didn't feel stuffed full at any time today. Interestingly
I ate more than enough to qualify for binge eating, but because
I didn't stuff myself at any one time (smaller meals throughout
the day) and burned off 3000 calories in exercise, the total
calories in were justified.
of the proposed definition of binge eating disorder is eating
when not hungry, continuing to eat until uncomfortably full,
eating larger than normal amount of calories in one sitting
or over about 1 - 2 hours, and being compulsively driven to
eat. I did not meet any of these criteria today. Go
here for a Mayo Clinic article on binge eating disorder.
I consumed the same amount of food previously in "binge
mode", I felt uncomfortably full, lethargic, guilty,
and unhealthy. My biggest mental challenge today was cognitive
dissonance with whether or not I overate because I ate
so much. On paper my calories in/ out were healthy, but I
guess because I have experienced a struggle with overeating
recently I had a hard time justifying eating so much even
though it was healthy to do so.
more day of no bingeing and I will achieve my 5 day no binge
goal. I'm confident I'll make it this time.
Healthy. About a 700 calorie deficit.
made 5 days in a row with no pigging out! Blew off another
3000 calories in training today. No cravings at all. The conservative
one day at time plan is paying off. Recording my progress
in this blog has helped as I know I have to "report"
each day. Unless I blow it tomorrow, I'm going to make blog
entries every 3 days now. My next entry on March 23 will have
my weigh in and other measurement numbers.
I tell my customers and athletes I work with, consistency
is key. Failing one day means moving on to the next and trying
again. Once successful, keep repeating. Don't psych your self
into perceiving that consistency is not achievable; after
all if you're overweight it means you have been consistent
for a long time - consistent at overeating. This is just a
matter of switching what you are consistent with.
healthy. 600 - 700 calorie deficit.
176.4 Waist girth 83 cm. Abdominal skin fold 6.1mm. Iliac
made it 7 days now without doing the binge thing. Two of the
last two days were calorie neutral. I've had a couple cravings
but didn't follow through. Mostly the thought of bingeing
now seems ridiculous and harmful - on an emotional level.
Before I knew that cognitively, that is I knew the facts,
but emotionally I would find a way to rationalize. The thought
of bingeing now rarely provokes a sense of reward, but rather
weight measurement is about 1lb more than the last weigh in,
my waist girth and skin folds are down slightly. It's important
to realized the inaccuracy of weight alone as a measurement
of fat loss. I'll go for a consistent caloric deficit of around
500 - 700 calories per day for the next week and report my
measurements then. I don't think I'll be returning to any
2000 calorie pig outs any more! :)
2, 2007 Final entry
173 lb abdominal skin fold 5mm, iliac 3.5mm. Eating healthy.
just read over this blog for the first time since April. It
felt like I was reading about someone else. The extreme overeating
that I did and accompanying emotional/ compulsive drive to
do so has been gone for months. Had I continued with that
eating pattern I would have put on at least another 20 pounds
started this whole binge eating thing was an attempt to get
super lean - to get really "ripped". I'm usually
fairly ripped anyway, but I wanted to get leaner. Why? I was
working with a bodybuilder who was utterly convinced that
getting ripped for a bodybuilding contest must involve restricting
carbs and water, and a severe calorie restriction, and probably
some special supplements.
said this was nonsense and promptly showed him my washboard
abs and said, "I don't do any of those dietary practices
and I'm ripped all year". He looked at my abs and commented
that I was leaner than many bodybuilders entering contests,
but that I wasn't as lean as the top category winners. So
I told him that I'd get leaner simply by eating 500 calories
less per day, with no change in food composition, water intake,
or exercise. And I did. While it was an ego boost to lift
my shirt and flash the ultra ripped contest ready abs, I was
also paying the price of feeling hungry much of the time.
I proved my point that getting ultra ripped can be achieved
without water or "carb" restriction, I did feel
what all bodybuilders feel as they approach a contest; out
of energy. It simply wasn't healthy to continuously cut calories
to the point of feeling hungry. My cravings to eat were unbelievable.
And one day I ate a huge amount of food to answer my cravings
and hunger. I've spoken to bodybuilders and other athletes
who drop food intake to make weight for contests and all agree
that they can't wait until the contest is over so they can
just plain dumb. Coincidentally at the time this was going
on the media was covering stories on binge eating in America.
I looked into it and was interested in the reported psychological
changes that can occur when binge eating. It was then I decided
to do the binge experiment, right on the heels of feeling
hungry from cutting calories too much to get ultra lean.
can understand how bodybuilders and athletes who need to make
weight for competition go through huge fat loss/ fat gain
cycles. The extreme calorie restriction makes you very hungry.
When your contest is over you have a binge eating mentality
that exacerbates already huge food cravings. It wouldn't be
just competitors who experience this cycle, anyone restricting
calories to the point of daily hunger would most likely give
into cravings at some point. Fat - lean - fat - lean. What
a dumb cycle to put your self through. I don't want any part
of it. There is no positive outcome and it sucks emotionally.
back to my usual leanness, but I haven't returned to my starting
weight of 168 lb, but I'm not worried about it. In fact if
anything I'm even less concerned with how long it takes me
to change my body composition than before. Gradual losses
over longer periods are OK and more easily achieved. I'm not
in a contest to lose fat fast, and any such contest would
be moronic in nature. Yes, I just called everyone who enters
a fat loss contest with themselves or others a moron. People
who do this are inviting failure and turmoil. It's unhealthy
emotionally and physically to impose rapid weight loss on
still have the occasional desire to eat a little more than
I need, but nothing like what I experienced during this experiment.
In retrospect I can see how I lied to myself and created dumb
denial based reasoning to either continue overeating or to
convince myself I was no longer effected by cravings. It took
many months of normal eating to regain my usual healthy eating
habits. The extreme cravings I had are gone, but I still from
time to time eat a little too much. This is balanced by eating
the right amount most of the time, and a deficit when needed.
may be some who naturally self select the perfect caloric
balance all the time, but that isn't me. If I don't have some
idea of how much I am taking in and burning off, my food intake
will not be balanced. I tend to overeat if I don't pay attention.
I would suspect most of the population is the same, and studies
seem to support this.
I have removed our large soup/ cereal bowls from our cupboard
as portion size is distorted with larger plates and bowls.
That's an easy way to control portion size: buy smaller dinnerware.
Most of my meals are back to being 500 - 600 calories. I add
more meals when I train more.
the end it was my will power that brought me back to normal.
However, if I didn't know what I was doing, all that will
power would have been wasted on ineffective strategies. It
seems important not only to be diligent in overcoming several
failures while attempting to change our eating habits, but
also to make an effort to learn about the psychology behind
eating behavior, and to learn about what healthy eating really
is and how to determine how much food we really need.
the combination of these variables that gets results. Focusing
on only one aspect will, in my opinion, probably fail.
you would like to post a comment on this article or my journey
through this, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
2007 Cris LaBossiere Rhino Fitness www.rhinofitness.ca