Monday, July 11, 2011

Breaking The Cycle

I watched a very interesting documentary on TV the other night called Why Are Thin People Not Fat. The premise was for naturally thin people to eat double the amount of calories than they normally would and see how different people gain weight. We are always told that weight loss is as simple as calories in and calories out, but documentaries like this disprove that food and calories have the same effect on everyone’s bodies. For anyone that hasn’t seen the show or is interested, this blog sums it up quite well.

After the show finished I mentioned to AJ that I really need to stop binge eating if I want to successfully control my weight. What he said to me really shocked me, but made complete sense. He said, what you need to do is stop starving yourself if you want to control your weight.

In a way I wasn’t even aware of how much I still starve myself and I certainly wasn’t aware that anyone else noticed either. I am still depriving myself of food and constantly battling hunger. I guess my messed up head still thinks you have to be hungry to lose weight and feeling full and satisfied makes me feel guilty.

I can still remember when I started starving myself; I was 5 years old and on my first day of primary school. When the bell rang for class we had to line up outside the classroom and one of the boys walked up to me and said that I couldn’t stand in his line because I was fat. I was shocked and didn’t really know what to do, but my young mind only knew that being fat was bad and food makes you fat, so logically I should stop eating.

I started starving myself during the day and only eating the evening meal at home. I continued to do this on and off throughout my entire school life, with periods where I would also skip the evening meal and eat nothing for weeks on end. It was easy to get away with because I had a fraught family life and no one took any notice of me. When people did occasionally notice my odd eating behaviours they weren’t concerned because I was still fat, so their assumption was that skipping a meal would do me good.

So if I was eating so little, why was I still fat? As soon as I started starving myself, I also started binge eating. Some days I would come home from school and feel so hungry and weak that I would sneak into the kitchen and stuff as many slices of bread and butter, cheese, sweet biscuits, muesli bars and whatever else I could find into my school jumper and go into the bathroom (the only room in the house with a lock) and eat until I was sick. I grew up in a poor family and food was often scarce so it was noticed that this food went missing. My older brother always got the blame for taking this food and no one ever suspected that I would do this because I was the ‘good’ child. I still feel guilty for that…

I was bullied all through school for being fat and the only thing that brought me comfort were these quiet times where I could sit alone and eat. Unfortunately, I am now 30 years old and 25 years of a starving and binging cycle is difficult to break. I still feel stronger when I am starving and I still feel comfort from food. I am taking AJ’s advice and working on eating more in the hope I can find a better balance in the way I eat. I have to relax and not make weight loss the focus of my life and instead concentrate on a healthy and balanced lifestyle. It will be easier said than done, but I’ll keep trying.


  1. I could have written this post myself (not so much about the growing up, but patterns of behaviours and bingeing).

    I have just started to see a psychologist who is also a dietitian and I can honestly say this is the single best thing I have ever done for myself (and I only had my second appointment today). Since my first appointment I have not had a binge and I was having up to 4 a week before that point. I am not saying that it has 'cured' me at all, but the change I have had mentally and some massive 'aha' moments is crazy. It is expensive...but so, so worth it. Perhaps there is someone similar in Melbourne?

    Good luck with this journey (or as the lady has said to me, this isn't a journey and you can't see it as such, this is life and 'this' will be with you forever.


  2. I watched that doco too, and I'm really glad I did. I'm also glad that my husband watched it with me, as it reinforced some things that we had previously discussed (as in, why he is tall and skinny and I'm not). He eats at least twice as many calories as me and never puts on weight.

    Also something which may be of interest to you was a program we listened to on ABC radio national on Thurs or Friday of last week. Let me see if I can find a link.. please hold...

    Here tis:

  3. *hugs*
    You have no idea how much I respect, admire, and cheer you on from far away...

    I will be thinking of you as you wrestle with this new "relationship" with food. Friend, not enemy.

    You can do this.

  4. This is a great post and I can really identify. Being hungry makes me feel in control and powerful and I still struggle with the desire to eat in secret and binge. My band stops me most of the time, but I can do some damage with slider foods. It's just so hard to overcome old habits.

  5. YES! I've been a (bad, massive) binge eater for a long time, and every attempt I've ever made at weight loss was a set-up for a binge. I way, way underestimated how much to eat each day, then I'd be starving and binge. Or I'd go to bed very hungry, wake up, eat a decent breakfast and lunch, but find that feeling almost insatiable, and binge. The day after a binge, restrict, etc. One big binge cycle.

    For the first time, this week I decided to just give EATING a shot! I'm doing this to stop bingeing and lose weight, and feeling satisfied. I'm nuts about food. It's very easy to talk myself into starving and in the back of my mind, know that I "can" binge on sweets later (which obviously never works). I still find traces of that panic in my thinking, but I've learned to quiet myself somewhat with the promise that, come what may, I AM going to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And a small snack or two. But those three staple meals WILL be real meals!

    I wish you the best.

  6. I have recently been doing a lot of evaluation of myself in regards to self image perception and acceptance. Like you talked about doing I have removed all my restrictions. I have decided to take a “know your enemy” stance with food. Dysfunctional sounding. Yes. Empowering to know and respect what I have taught myself to hate about food. Definitely.
    I did not just start these patterns overnight and it appears that neither do the majority of people with eating disorders.
    As Josie said “ I AM going to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” Learning to practice balance even at the risk of appearing crazy.


Awww thanks so much for the comment!