I Binged Nearly Everyday This Week - Here is why

Zeynep Demirelli

4/25/20210 min read

I have been in recovery since 2019. Compared to many previous years of suffering because of my eating disorder and my poor body image, I would say everything has been going pretty well. I am seeing my therapist weekly, taking my medication day and night. I am sleeping 7-8 hours every day. There are good and meh days. Some days I eat more, some days I eat less. I am listening to my body, nourishing it; staying away from any type of dieting. I no longer have a scale in my bathroom and I refrain from any kind of body checking.

This week, however, was a bit unusual. As I am in the final months of my master’s program, I am overwhelmed by all the things I need to do. I am doing a practical internship, seeing some new clients while also trying to keep up with my other courses. I am learning a new language on the side. And then there is my master’s thesis; with a huge data set, waiting to be analyzed. I am doing my best to also maintain my Instagram account, to be active, and be in touch with my followers. On top of all of this, just like everyone else in the world, I am suffering because of the partial quarantine we are in. Every shop and restaurant is still closed, we are not allowed to do gatherings or receive more than one guest. As an extrovert, I am not getting the social stimulation I need. The weather has only recently started getting better, however, it is still cold. Even on sunnier days, I have so much work to do that I don’t have the time or energy to go out. Every day is just the same: I wake up at 8 am, sit in front of my laptop, and work on all of these things without moving besides going to the bathroom.

What happens when you put all these conditions together for a few weeks? It is the recipe for disaster. It is a call for spiraling back into everything I was thought by the diet culture. Shockingly, this Monday I woke up and I suddenly decided that going sugar-free is like the best idea in the world:

Well, you are sitting all day. You should do something. Ooh, what about going sugar-free? It is technically not a diet, so why not?

I looked up all these recipes online, all things I could eat. I even baked my own bread. When my eating disorder takes over, I always feel like I am wearing these pink glasses and see the world through them. Pink because at first everything seems perfectly alright and under my control. Disordered eating feels normal, the most illogical things make sense. Until it doesn’t.

There were many days that I overate, but for a really long time I hadn’t binged. The first day went ‘‘well’’ until it was 10 pm and I found myself downing two bowls of Froot Loops with milk.

Tuesday, I woke up and I said:

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day… and I can try again.

Food popped up in my mind multiple times during the day but I still was insisting on my new diet. Around 9 pm, I really wanted to eat some cookies covered with chocolate. But I kept telling myself that I can’t, that they were too sugary and I wasn’t allowed to eat sugar. After 10 minutes of a nasty inner discourse, started the binge. I don’t want to get into the details because it can be triggering for some individuals, but I will just say that some cookies did not cut it. I went to bed really upset.

On Wednesday, I made things worse by checking my body in the mirror. Then I convinced myself that my perception wasn’t trustworthy, that I had to weigh myself. I needed something concrete, something that wasn’t questionable (!). I asked my boyfriend to take the scale out. I stepped on it. How do you think the scale left me feeling? Devastated. (Does it ever make you feel good? I seriously doubt that.)

Not even an hour after my breakfast, I had this intense craving for chocolate with raisins. I really resisted this craving. I ate some fruit instead. This is a classic mistake. Trying to satisfy your cravings with something else never works. Never. I told myself I will wait until lunch to eat anything else - still without sugar. Needless to say, I had the most unsatisfying lunch ever. It all went down hill from there. I just spent the rest of my day going back and forth between the kitchen. I could not do any of the work I wanted to do, instead I snacked and ate many meals.

Just like every binging person, I felt extremely upset about what happened when it was over. I felt guilty, ashamed. I just felt like everything was getting out of control and my life was slipping through my fingers. This feeling just makes everything worse, it fuels all the wrong thoughts. Because of the stressors I currently have in my life, it was difficult for me to turn down the volume of my eating disorder thoughts. Every cell in my body was constantly screaming at me:

You are fooling yourself. You have gained weight, don’t deny it. You won’t be able to run away from this. Go on a diet. Like RIGHT NOW!

Then came Thursday. I opened my eyes and the first thought to cross my mind was that I had to lose weight. No matter how much I ate during breakfast, I just wasn’t getting full. This is what happens when you restrict yourself in any way. I lost any physical sensation of fullness or hunger cues I had. The only thing I could think about was food. It was so bad that I needed to read every sentence in my thesis at least twice. I just couldn’t concentrate. I started craving random things, things that I don’t even like. During a binge, it doesn’t matter whether you like the food or not, you just eat it. I inhaled every sweet thing we had at home.

Finally today, I was able to take out my pink glasses and see what happened clearly. My stress levels were through the roof. When all is going well and the sun is shining, it is easier for me to stay on track. I can get up early and be productive. I can easily tell the disordered voice in me to shut up. But when things accumulate and I get stressed, it just becomes too difficult. I realized that I have a hard time managing stress. This week, the stress came out as disordered eating. I was mentally dieting. Physically, I was allowed to eat many things - except things with sugar. Normally I eat everything in balance, I wouldn’t particularly say that I have a sweet tooth. But just knowing that I could not eat anything that included sugar turned me into sugar addict.

By telling myself ‘‘It’s better if I don’t eat sugar…’’, I basically summoned the Demon of Binging. Just like that.

What did I learn from this week? Restriction itself only can - and does - cause binges. As simple as that. If I think about it, did restricting help me alleviate my stress? Nope. Did it make me even more stressed? Definitely. The only way to stop binging is to stop restricting, and managing any thoughts related to restriction.

All these things are not only my experiences but so many people also experience them all around the world. What we are going through globally is already difficult. It is depressing having to sit home all day. Things can get stressful pretty quickly. In these incontrollable times, it is normal to seek ways to control something, our food intake, our mood. But we don’t have to make it even harder on ourselves. If you are at the same point as I am, please know that you are not alone. It is okay to eat, it is okay if you cannot move as much. You don’t have to change your diet. We can always find better ways to manage our stress.