Through a lot of work with Eeks, I started to manage to get my binging under control. The funny thing is that I did it without ever really knowing I was doing it. That’s just the path Eeks pulled me down, nudging me, pushing me, cheering me on.
How I began to overcome the problem – for starters, habitual bingers binge whenever the opportunity is available. They can spot a Chinese buffet at a hundred yards – as could I. If the wind is in their favor, they can call it even further. Letters like AYCE jump out at them. They eat a lot and therefor have to spend a lot of money on food, so good discounts are what they live for.
I made my first step to remove binging from my life by deciding that I was done with buffets. Mind you, if that was a life commitment of mine to never eat at a buffet again, I’ve surely failed. Not just then, but now too. I took my girlfriend out to one recently – she loves sushi and there was a new sushi buffet in the area. The price was about what I consider decent for a sushi buffet – if you’re enjoying AYCE sushi for less than 20 bucks… enjoy your ptomein.
But I made the commitment to put off buffets for a while, and to attend no more than one a month – that way if someone I knew wanted to go out to one, I didn’t have to say “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly…” This is important because some friends of mine and I get together a few times a year at one of our favorites restaurants, an Indian buffet near Voorhees, NJ. I discovered it over half a decade ago and it quickly became one of my favorite places. As it was my first Indian resutarant, I have judged all other Indian establishments I have eaten at by them. Very few match up.
And the price at this place? Amazing, about ten bucks a person. I don’t know how they afford to do that, they put out very good food, well made, tasty and filling. I’m sure a lot of people don’t do what I used to do there and get their fill, still most people leave feeling full, and it is an unwise diner that leaves without chewing a handful of the fennel seeds, usually mixed with candy, at the door. It helps with digestion and keeps one from being waked with pain in the night. They taste like “Good ‘n Plentys”.
I knew I’d want to continue to frequent that place, and that there were a few other locations that were worth visiting, but I knew I had to limit it. Once a month. Sometimes I don’t follow that rule as much any more, I’ve even done two such locations in a week, but I’m very good in these moments. I can eat at a buffet without gorging myself now. The temptation to really go all out is rarely there anymore.
At the sushi buffet I’d mentioned, I felt that temptation for a moment. I had eaten only a little that day and decided to go ahead and have a bit more than I usually might, since there was still plenty of hours to go before I’d be getting to sleep. So we had a nice time and I tried a great number of rolls and dishes. We also had a plate put together for us at the grill – a couuple of clams, a couple of shrimp, a pike fish, etc… really nice stuff.
On the last plate, I was pretty much done and my girlfriend felt like she suddenly couldn’t eat anymore. I tend to leave a little on my plates when I’m finished – an old habit from my binging days – force yourself to eat a little less by sending some of it back. But here was almost a whole plate of food. Part of me was worried that they would make a stink about us leaving food on the plate and got a little worried.
It was a false flag. If they do get pissy, all I have to do is tell them to charge us extra. They aren’t going to charge much, especially if you’re nice about it, and everyone leaves happy. I asked them if they’d care to, they smiled and said of course not. I tipped the guy a little extra, I was just barely full and it was worth it not to feel the need to stuff myself.
By removing these activities from my life though, for a while, at least, and abstaining altogether from such locations for at least 6 months, perhaps more, I helped myself to remove some obstacles in my life. But now that this relief was not so freely available, I found myself turning to it in times of need.
As I managed to get over my use of binge eating to deal with the things that bothered me, I found myself succumbing to panic attacks. It took some time getting used to and learning how to deal with them. Instead of having some comforting action to help me deal with my problems, they instead sneak up on me, usually in the form of something I never saw coming. But time has taught me how to handle this, how to remove myself from the situation when it is required and cope with what is happening.
Still there were times when I needed to binge, but I was trying to avoid that! I was trying to do it right, dammit! Trying not to give in, trying not to fail AGAIN! And you go crazy. Forcing yourself not to binge makes you a little crazy. You feel the need to binge because eating is a comfort and binge eating is a great stress release. By resisting, you aren’t allowing yourself the release you need and you’re letting it build up more.
They say it gets worse before it gets better. They say a lot of things, don’t they? Calm before the storm, worse before it gets better. Those are essentially opposites. Yet we’ve seen examples of both in most of our lives. In my case, it really started to get worse, once it got better, and once I got past that, it just kept getting better.
I got to the point that when I would binge, it wouldn’t be nearly as bad as it had once been, and I’d not really worry about it, just start the next day, ready to overcome! But sometimes I would eat late and overdo it a bit, without really trying to. I’d feel stuffed to the gills and I’d recently spent an awful lot of time learning about bulimia, it became a real alternative to letting the food sit in my gut all night.
I suddenly found myself giving serious consideration to barfing it all up. But because I didn’t want to have yet another compounded problem to deal with, I resisted. That’s how I see a lot of this – compounded problems. That’s why they are so difficult to shake. That’s why there are people who are multiple hundreds of pounds overweight and have been for years, and seem to just be getting bigger and bigger! They aren’t lazy! They don’t want to die! They want out, they want a lifeline, they want help and at the right moments in their lives, they’ll do damn near anything to get it! They are dealing with compounded problems that haven’t even been publicly defined yet! And the chances that these problems will be soon aren’t likely because it’s RUDE. It’s rude to talk about fat people. They have feelings too! But the more we talk, the more we can learn, if we do so with the desire to learn.
We have these problems that once started out very simply, very easily. But they snowballed with time and have intertwined with other problems, giving us multiple issues to wade through, issues that are seemingly connected with so much in our lives, and a great deal of it, we don’t usually understand. And so we’re stuck, following the same lousy patterns, ending up with the same lousy results. Usually it’s fad diets.
And purging would be compounding my problem. What made it unacceptable was that it would be compounding a problem that I was finally starting to get some control over. I could see marked improvement! This is a humiliating thing to share (which is part of why fat people aren’t usually honest with the rest of the world, it’s humiliating work) but it needs to be shared, and I’m the one to do it (it IS my blog, after all) – I’ve occasionally compared the type of binge eating that I engaged in when I reached 560 pounds to the fattening of a duck for foie gras. They stick a tube down the duck’s throat and pump it full of gavage. That’s how I see the way I used to eat. Disgusting, isn’t it. I live with that.
By cutting down on the binging I was finally allowing my esophagus (I only assume that I caused it damage, it may be true, it might not) to heal and shrink back down (I hope) to a normal width. Now I’m going to redamage it by hurling everything back up, along with some nice, nasty bile and other digestive juices? What sense does that make?
I thank god I beat myself up over that. I consider it the kindest thing I ever did to myself. I count my blessings that avoided compounding my problem with that one and have the greatest sympathy for anyone that ever suffered bulimia, because I looked it in the eye myself. It was scary.
It wasn’t easy, especially during those times when I felt like if I didn’t make myself puke, my body would surely toss my cookies for me. I remember kneeling before the porcelain god, sweating and praying I wouldn’t throw up.
So the big question – HOW DID I STOP BINGING? I finally had to give in. Fail. Fart around. Give it up for now, I actually need it. As I described earlier, my binges usually went like this – I tried not to binge, and tried not to binge, and tried not to binge, but sooner or later, it would become too convenient to binge, and I’d say “Oh, screw it, I’m gonna eat whether I like it or not!”
So finally, I’d chow down; man, I just pigged out. When it was done, I’d bask in the afterglow, endorphins released, and I’d just enjoy the aftermath of my binge.
Then I’d feel disgusted. “Well, you did it again, nasty naughty-word (gotta keep it clean). I’d go through all kinds of beating myself up.
The first thing I gave up was this abusive practice of beating myself up (though, as admitted, that was the thing I needed the most, when it came to purging). Each and every time I would put myself through that self-upbraiding, deriding myself as if it would have been possible for me not to binge in the first place. So I had to forgive myself. Slowly, my after-binge beat-downs decreased. I made myself be nicer to myself when I came down from the binge high. I reminded myself that I had to binge. It’s part of the pattern I’ve entered into. I’d tell myself that with hard work, I’d find my eating problems reduced in just a month’s time!
I started working on reducing the size of the binges as well. I usually went to McDonald’s or some fast food joint with a drive-thru for my binge, so I paid attention to how much I purchased, which was generally about equal to what I ate. As I got an idea of how big my binges were, I began reducing the sizes, slowly. And each time I binged, I reminded myself, during the come-down, that yes, I’d binged, but I hadn’t done so as badly as before. I ate “this much” less!
In addition, I began throwing something out before I even began, I’d remove it first, then wipe it on the ground or something, to ensure I wouldn’t eat it. That made my binge even less, and when it was over, there was even less for me to beat myself up over.
I knew I was onto something when I binged one night, and instead of beating myself up, thought to myself “Well, that wasn’t so bad, and I can always start over again tomorrow!”
That’s how I stopped binging.