10

votes

I'm going insane and it's driving me mad (How can I stop binge eating?)

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created January 17, 2012 at 6:28 PM

I cannot stop binging. These are not simple sessions of indulgence, no; these are horrific, 10000 calorie gorge-fests of sickening concoctions which serve only to cram as many calories into as dense a package as possible for absolutely no reason other than to wreak havoc on my system - fried chicken american cheese mayonnaise bacon wraps, sticks of butter mixed with sugar cookie mix eaten raw, cups of peanut butter mixed with chevre and heavy whipping cream.

I try to convince myself that I'm in control, but given the frequency of these nightmareish binges (3-4 times a month at this point), I no longer believe that to be the case. I feel like I can't trust myself at all. They always occur first thing in the morning before I exercise. I start with something small, usually "paleo" (meat, for example) when I'm really craving bullshit junk food, and I end up caving and having a small bit of what I want, and then everything goes to hell and that bottomless pit sensation comes and doesn't leave until I've crammed a literal pound (+400g) of sugar into my system in the form of raw cookie dough and cereal.

I will write what I'm eating as it happens, write my thoughts, my feelings, and no matter what I convince myself it's worth it every fucking time. No matter the pain, the guilt, the restriction thereafter, the consequences just never outweigh the benefits of all those calories.

I'm constantly thinking about food, constantly have the urge to binge, and it's so frustrating to fight that 100% of the time. Of course I'm going to end up giving in; I'm a human, for God's sake.

The feeling of always being hungry has left me contemplating suicide. I can eat over 3000 calories of dry chicken breast in one sitting. I can eat heads of lettuce and want more. I want to be thin so badly, and I wish it wasn't this difficult. It shouldn't be this difficult.

To elaborate further, it seems like the reward value for food is just retardedly high for me. There is literally nothing more satisfying, nothing more enjoyable and comforting then just pure calories. That sounds so fucked up, but my body is just constantly screaming for food and when it gets that hit it's almost orgasmic. Ugh, I'm disgusted with myself.

What should I do? I'm not willing to give up yet. As a consequence of my binges I'm probably up to 134 pounds at 5'9", but 16-17% bodyfat on a lanky male leaves me with little more than a nice big flap of abdominal fat and cripplingly low self-esteem.

edit: question format, tags

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 28, 2012
at 10:41 PM

@Sunny Beaches -- thanks!

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 28, 2012
at 10:01 PM

This is an old thread, but Nance, I just love your comments.

116d23135449332a8bf9106220cf632b

on January 31, 2012
at 12:02 PM

No :-( I have another appointment in a month...

1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on January 30, 2012
at 02:24 AM

did you ever get your period back?

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 22, 2012
at 09:31 PM

You have many good wishes going with you Matthius! Please take Melissa's advice.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 22, 2012
at 09:30 PM

Good call, Melissa. Sometimes a conversation can go in the wrong direction.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 22, 2012
at 09:28 PM

They might just tell you to go to the psych ER since it's a weekend. It might seem scary, but you need help.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 22, 2012
at 09:27 PM

I am closing this because Matthius needs to stop going on PH and he needs to see a mental health professional ASAP.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 22, 2012
at 09:27 PM

yeah, I have to close this. This is honestly a serious problem and people do die from eating disorders. You should not just be working with a doctor, you should be working with a therapist. Suicide hotlines can help refer you to one. They are trained to deal with all kinds of self-harming behaviors, not just those typically thought of as suicidal like cutting. ED are suicidal behaviors as well. http://hopeline.com/

1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on January 20, 2012
at 11:50 PM

Thanks, Nance. You are my PH idol!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 20, 2012
at 05:24 PM

Wish I could give you more than one up-vote! I love this.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 20, 2012
at 12:31 PM

YAY! You're going to do awesome! And you have such a fun future ahead of you.

06325b762f78a2b8aaa977161cca4a1f

(539)

on January 19, 2012
at 01:35 AM

Water kefir or kombucha helps keep binges at bay for me as well. More often water kefir because it's a lot less labor intensive than kombucha.

Medium avatar

(8239)

on January 18, 2012
at 08:03 PM

Though I am not a traditionally religious person, I offer Paul's famous statement that seems to touch on impulse-eating, and impulse-anything: "I don't understand myself. I want to do what is right but I do not do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate ... It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what's right, I inevitably do what's wrong." (Romans 7:15)

Medium avatar

(8239)

on January 18, 2012
at 08:02 PM

There have been times when I ate something I wish I hadn't, or ate too much of something I shouldn't, almost in an automatic, "I can't resist" way. Yet overall, binge-eating has not been a problem for me, so I cannot claim expertise in how to deal with it. I too, Nance, have gained a great deal from intermittent fasting.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 18, 2012
at 07:35 PM

As a practical matter, if you're constantly fixing/eating meals and snacks it's pretty impossible to create emotional distance between yourself and food. Eating less often allows you time to cultivate other interests--literally.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 18, 2012
at 07:33 PM

Hi there, Dorado! Switching to ancestral foods was not enough to cure my (emotion-based) binge eating. The 2 things that made the difference for me were intermittent fasting (understanding the difference between physical/emotion-based hunger) and, for reasons unknown, drinking water kefir. If I feel twinges of emotional hunger, sipping fizzy water kefir sends them away. A regular habit of fasting broke my reliance on food for emotional support.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 18, 2012
at 07:26 PM

I think it's a habit that, for some, is easier to smother with better habits rather than simply unlearn. If you tie Paleo into preparing your own food, not shopping at supermarkets, earning food through activity etc. and commit to those concepts then over time they can be powerful enough that trying to binge while sticking to those rules just becomes too much effort. Some of it is counter-intuitive. The key often though is to resolve or at least address the emotional issues - the post-binge hangover can be a familiar and comfortable place for some.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 18, 2012
at 06:28 PM

I agree with PrimalDanny -- gradual practice of fasting was integral to gaining a better relationship with food. All I'd say to Matthius is you plan the fast and you plan to eat. It's ok to abort the fast but don't skip or reduce your planned meal because you "aren't hungry." Eat a large meal of paleo foods! Both fasting and eating are important to build healthy habits.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 18, 2012
at 04:02 PM

Also, as a comfort: I've eaten straight butter also, as well as nut butter mixed with yogurt. It's foul stuff. I've also gained some weight, which I'm learning not to hate so much, because being "normal weight" beats the hell out of being model thin and suicidal. I also used to dream, literally DREAM about food every night, I'd dream about having some amazing condition that would allow me to finally eat until I was full, and even in my dreams that meant eighty thousand calories of food, be that donuts or roast beef. I don't have those dreams anymore. You WILL get better.

B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:49 PM

When you have suicidal thoughts, please call a hotline, friend or therapist. If you are not in therapy, please get a referral today. No matter how you feel right now, you can have a brighter tomorrow. It will take time. It will not be easy. But you can do it.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 18, 2012
at 09:51 AM

It can put hunger in perspective quicker than anything else I know - we don't really know how 'disordered' his habits are but there are both better and worse ideas I'm sure.

C2ad96801ec1e22d2bf62475b6e52751

(1416)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:09 AM

The answer box is for answers.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:00 AM

Upvoted especially for rules 1 and 2, but kind of concerned about suggesting fasting to someone who is struggling with disordered eating habits.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on January 18, 2012
at 02:54 AM

I agree with Bill. He's being very brave and honest. What's real is real to him. If we could intellectualize our way out of every quandary...

8c8e71eb729c0edb4786c6f3ba8614e4

(568)

on January 18, 2012
at 12:38 AM

I can completely relate. I struggle with this too, except probably more frequently than you. Food is just too satisfying while eating, just not afterwards. I hope we can both sort this out!

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 18, 2012
at 12:14 AM

I think mine was downvoted as well, don't know why though. I'm not sure there's a 'right' answer for this so it's all hopefully helpful to someone.

1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on January 17, 2012
at 11:55 PM

I say, stop weighing yourself! You are the only person who knows what that number is, and it doesn't mean much. Your health is what matters. I agree about therapy. Matthius, I hope you find some solace.

Bad3a78e228c67a7513c28f17c36b3cf

(1387)

on January 17, 2012
at 11:19 PM

+1 for PHD starches. I'd also recommend PHD supplements and patience. I've been on PHD for a year. I used to think about food a lot. Now I have to remind myself to eat.

Aa5e411ac90ac543cdb7d06a812a908d

(446)

on January 17, 2012
at 10:52 PM

Yeah, starstuff's reply was also downvoted for some reason so I upvoted it. Someone needs to learn some downvoting etiquette...

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 17, 2012
at 10:40 PM

I have no idea why someone down-voted your reasonable response so +1.

Aa5e411ac90ac543cdb7d06a812a908d

(446)

on January 17, 2012
at 10:39 PM

Why the downvote?

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on January 17, 2012
at 08:19 PM

Its part of his eating disorder. With all due respect, the nicest thing you could do is click the delete button on this post.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 17, 2012
at 08:00 PM

Seconded for intense exercise, though I don't think it'd fix everything.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:59 PM

There's more to health than weight.

A96720eb77be29f27f198654fecd8f3c

(824)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:57 PM

It's a relief to find someone in a similar situation. I obsess over food every waking moment, can eat thousands of calories in a sitting without feeling satisfied, constantly battle with eating paleo foods vs junkfood and have suicidal tendencies.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:56 PM

Certainly not in need of any weight loss.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:54 PM

I wouldn't go as far as "dreadfully", but sure as shootin isn't overweight! Plus even if he is 16-17% body fat that isn't bad at all...and may even be healthier than extreme leanness.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:53 PM

It's not underweight but 134 lbs is about the minimum weight you'd want to be at that height.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:50 PM

You're not, but being in control of what/when you eat needs to come first. It's also why I suggested large meals to kill physical hunger, because I'm sure that's there.

F4aff43df6a8a49a1c3879c1233ee560

(459)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:48 PM

Paleo Pepper has lots of information on disordered eating on her blog. http://paleopepper.com/category/disordered-eating-2/

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 17, 2012
at 07:44 PM

If you can, please do try to see a therapist.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:17 PM

Now that I think of it, even sweet potato could be a trigger. I suppose it depends on the individual. Best to cut out anything that has historically led to binge behavior.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:09 PM

It's not just you Matthius, it's a problem that many struggle to deal with, but you have the advantage being here, asking for help. Stick with it. Things change. It can be hellishly hard work but it really is worth it.

D8f58eba263277ec6119293137b85b02

(1061)

on January 17, 2012
at 06:58 PM

I'm curious: are you buying the junk food, or is it your family?

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 17, 2012
at 06:56 PM

Much as I hate to say so, I agree that it's good to avoid fruit for a while to "retrain" your taste buds to appreciate other foods. But have to be very careful when you add food back in--eating fruit triggered a binge the first time I added it back in. I always eat fruit at the beginning of a meal and I make sure it's a large meal with fatty meat. That seems to eliminate the reaction to fruit and it's a great appetizer in a moderate portion followed by a salad and meat and cooked veggies.

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20 Answers

20
15480ad0efe9168bc518967b9a2e240d

on January 17, 2012
at 06:42 PM

I'm sorry you are going through this. I can relate. For the longest time I used to binge and binge and it caught up to me. It really does a toll on your body.

Two things that have helped me the most were

1) Therapy. I didn't realize it but the binging was related to deep-rooted issues and once I was able to overcome those, I noticed the binging doesn't occur.

2) I also sought out a hypnotist. It actually worked in the sense that it created a calming effect.

This is definitely a tough subject, but I think you really need to be happy with your body to give it the respect it deserves. You need to throw out anything that causes those triggers. Not in sight not in mind.

Hopefully this helps, and unfortunately there is no quick fix

**EDIT: I read that you contemplate suicide. This is a serious issue and I really hope you seek help. I was in the same position as you are and you cannot believe how much therapy has turned my way of thinking around. Prior to therapy, I could eat bags of m&Ms, cookies, what not, and exercise like crazy to help burn it off. It was not healthy and causing my health to detoriate. I am also on anti-depressants, because although cognitive therapy is important, sometimes you are hormonally imbalanced and require medication. I hope that I don't have to be on medication forever, that is why I turned to Paleo, hoping to heal my body naturally and ween myself of medication. But please, seek help and I hope that you will find support.

17
07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:32 PM

Am I the only person here who's thinking that "up to 134 lbs" at a height of 5'9" is underweight?

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:53 PM

It's not underweight but 134 lbs is about the minimum weight you'd want to be at that height.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:56 PM

Certainly not in need of any weight loss.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:59 PM

There's more to health than weight.

C2ad96801ec1e22d2bf62475b6e52751

(1416)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:09 AM

The answer box is for answers.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:50 PM

You're not, but being in control of what/when you eat needs to come first. It's also why I suggested large meals to kill physical hunger, because I'm sure that's there.

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on January 17, 2012
at 08:19 PM

Its part of his eating disorder. With all due respect, the nicest thing you could do is click the delete button on this post.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on January 18, 2012
at 02:54 AM

I agree with Bill. He's being very brave and honest. What's real is real to him. If we could intellectualize our way out of every quandary...

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:54 PM

I wouldn't go as far as "dreadfully", but sure as shootin isn't overweight! Plus even if he is 16-17% body fat that isn't bad at all...and may even be healthier than extreme leanness.

1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on January 17, 2012
at 11:55 PM

I say, stop weighing yourself! You are the only person who knows what that number is, and it doesn't mean much. Your health is what matters. I agree about therapy. Matthius, I hope you find some solace.

15
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 17, 2012
at 06:42 PM

Hi, Matthius. You may or may not know this but I had a 50-year problem with binge eating disorder.

Please trust me when I say it's possible to fight your way out of binge eating but it is hard as hell. The general goal is to realize that binges come from emotional unrest.

There's no one right way--in fact, you'll probably need to find YOUR way. I'll give a quick list here and I also invite you to read longer articles I've written on the subject. Just check my profile for the link.

Okay:

  • You don't have to fight alone. If you want to get personal support there are meetings and counselors. If you want support through reading, there are a number of binge eaters past and/or present on PH and many blog writers discuss it as well.
  • Learn to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional cravings. Feed the physical hunger to weaken or isolate the emotional stuff.
  • Learn non-food ways to deal with the emotional cravings. Get away from food--go to a hardware store, do a hard physical work-out, etc.
  • Start each day with a large fatty, high-protein meal. It won't stop emotional cravings but it will weaken them somewhat.
  • Find sources of relaxation and laughter. Watch the Comedy Channel. Read the r/funny section on reddit.com. If you like to meditate or think quietly, do that--the latter while taking a long walk, perhaps.

The hardest thing for you right now is to relax, but that's what you need in order to gain control. You may experience 3 steps forward, 2 steps back but don't worry about. Tomorrow is always a new start for you and you can do it.

If/when you can, switch to pre-emptive binges of paleo foods so any neolithic foods will have a hard time getting in. Gradually try to stay off the bad stuff and if you do all of the above you may find food becoming less important--but only if you practice finding other sources of fun and comfort rather than food.

Best wishes!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 28, 2012
at 10:41 PM

@Sunny Beaches -- thanks!

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 28, 2012
at 10:01 PM

This is an old thread, but Nance, I just love your comments.

11
Aa5e411ac90ac543cdb7d06a812a908d

on January 17, 2012
at 09:35 PM

Does your planned diet, aside from the binges, contain starch? I had similar (though not nearly as bad) problems for the past year when I avoided starches and was mostly eating meats, veggies (tubers included), dairy and fruit. My diet wasn't very low carb but I still was hungrier than I should have been when eating those amounts of protein, fat and calories. I was and still am a few kilos overweight too - I actually started gaining weight when I went paleo in 2010.

I added in "safe" starches ?? la Perfect Health Diet a month or so ago, and haven't really craved sugar since. Before this I couldn't go a week without binging on candy or cookies. You might want to experiment with more starch if you haven't already. But like others have suggested, I would first and foremost recommend you go see a professional... They will help you and there's nothing to be ashamed of in seeing a therapist. Good luck! :)

Aa5e411ac90ac543cdb7d06a812a908d

(446)

on January 17, 2012
at 10:39 PM

Why the downvote?

Aa5e411ac90ac543cdb7d06a812a908d

(446)

on January 17, 2012
at 10:52 PM

Yeah, starstuff's reply was also downvoted for some reason so I upvoted it. Someone needs to learn some downvoting etiquette...

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 17, 2012
at 10:40 PM

I have no idea why someone down-voted your reasonable response so +1.

Bad3a78e228c67a7513c28f17c36b3cf

(1387)

on January 17, 2012
at 11:19 PM

+1 for PHD starches. I'd also recommend PHD supplements and patience. I've been on PHD for a year. I used to think about food a lot. Now I have to remind myself to eat.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 18, 2012
at 12:14 AM

I think mine was downvoted as well, don't know why though. I'm not sure there's a 'right' answer for this so it's all hopefully helpful to someone.

9
116d23135449332a8bf9106220cf632b

on January 17, 2012
at 10:48 PM

I developed this problem, too, over a 2 year period of 70-lb weight loss and calorie restriction. Paleo has helped many things, but not this. I figured if I finally nourished my body, I would stop, but the scenario of binging on roast chicken, eggs, cans of tuna, roasted veggies, and straight coconut oil is all to familiar. As a matter of fact, my binges were on "healthy" food 90% of the time. The two things that CURED me:

  1. I suspected I was having blood sugar issues. After doing some research I ordered the herb Gymnema Sylvestre and would let two pills dissolve in my mouth when I caught myself with my head in the fridge. Placebo effect, maybe (or the nasty taste of the pill itself) but it definitely helped take the edge off. I was later diagnosed with PCOS and put on Metformin, which GREATLY reduced the actual HUNGER I was feeling, but...

  2. ... I was still thinking about food all the time. I suppose it was out of habit at that point. I had read about the food reward theory and decided to give it a try. They say it takes seven days to break a habit, so I gave this method two weeks and I was CURED: I consumed 1800 calories (I am a 140 lb 5'7" female) per day of the following: 6 scoops of whey protein powder mixed with 6 T chia seed followed by either 1 T olive oil or 3 fish oil pills- split into 6 feedings per day. Yes, it sucked, but I definitely stopped looking forward to my meals and after about five days started FORGETTING to eat because I WASN'T HUNGRY AND I WASN'T THINKING ABOUT FOOD anymore.

3 months later - I haven't binged once.

1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on January 30, 2012
at 02:24 AM

did you ever get your period back?

116d23135449332a8bf9106220cf632b

on January 31, 2012
at 12:02 PM

No :-( I have another appointment in a month...

8
724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

on January 18, 2012
at 03:11 PM

I've read some of your previous posts, and I'm going to say the same thing I said to the last question you posed, which I think you deleted.

I think you need to gain weight. I know it sucks, and I know you don't want to, but you are recovering from, if I'm correct, years of extreme low-calorie dieting. Your fat tissues are starved and they are SCREAMING to be fed. You already know this. And they aren't going to stop screaming because you're eating chicken instead of cookie dough. They will stop screaming when they stop starving. And that might mean that you need to be skinny fat instead of ridiculously thin.

And you know this as well as I do. It's better to be skinny fat, or even slightly pudgy, than to be 17 and suicidal because you can't fit enough cookie dough or pork roast roast in your belly to stop being hungry (I'm not mocking you, I've been there, honest).

So the practical advice is to literally stop restricting. Keep working out, lift weights, eat healthy, etc. etc., but since your body is literally starving, and is literally sending your brain starvation signals, each day of fasting or not eating or whatever is just going to delay the day that your fat cells finally stop screaming at your brain. So some days you'll eat normally, and some days you'll binge. Then, maybe 10 lbs from now, you'll just be eating normally. This means you need to stop "making up" for your binges. This means your binges will add up to some lbs of fat over time. It won't be that much. It really won't. And the goal is to stop bingeing, to stop the next binge, NOT to make up for yesterday's binge, NOT to maintain a weight loss that is making you insane.

You can gain some weight without regaining all the weight, because you're not giving up on everything, you're not giving up on healthy eating or healthy living. You're actually committing yourself fully to healthy eating and healthy living, and that means not starving yourself to make up for yesterdays' binge, that means not beating the crap out of yourself over it. When you give up, that's when you gain ALL the weight back. Committing to being healthier, body and mind, means just gaining a BIT of the weight back.

And then, maybe six months from now, maybe a year from now, when you're a little more healed, in a little bit of a healthier place and aren't just getting off the end of a serious starvation diet, then maybe you can try again, slowly, with a relaxed attitude. And maybe you won't, because maybe you'll find that you don't need to, because maybe you'll be in college or whatever and you'll be playing sports and you'll have a pretty girlfriend or boyfriend and life will be good, and you won't be worrying about it anymore.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 18, 2012
at 04:02 PM

Also, as a comfort: I've eaten straight butter also, as well as nut butter mixed with yogurt. It's foul stuff. I've also gained some weight, which I'm learning not to hate so much, because being "normal weight" beats the hell out of being model thin and suicidal. I also used to dream, literally DREAM about food every night, I'd dream about having some amazing condition that would allow me to finally eat until I was full, and even in my dreams that meant eighty thousand calories of food, be that donuts or roast beef. I don't have those dreams anymore. You WILL get better.

7
Medium avatar

on January 17, 2012
at 06:52 PM

The good news is that you're only slightly flabby, so you can get back to leanness fairly quickly.

I think you should throw away all concentrated sources of fat, sugar and salt and start over with a much more elemental diet. Get that shit out of your house and don't buy more of it. Eat baked meat, microwaved sweet potatoes/russets, some liver and some egg yolks. That's your diet now. Don't eat any fruit since the sweetness will probably be a trigger. Don't salt anything.

The trick is to not take that first bite of anything that sends you down the path. Alcoholics in recovery aren't going to take the occasional swig, so you shouldn't take a bite of a cookie or some other drug-food.

You need to retrain yourself to start listening to actual hunger signals, which couldn't possibly be telling you to eat again with that much chicken in your stomach, for example.

Anyway, this will take time, so be patient. You need to etch these healthy pathways ever deeper.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:17 PM

Now that I think of it, even sweet potato could be a trigger. I suppose it depends on the individual. Best to cut out anything that has historically led to binge behavior.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 17, 2012
at 06:56 PM

Much as I hate to say so, I agree that it's good to avoid fruit for a while to "retrain" your taste buds to appreciate other foods. But have to be very careful when you add food back in--eating fruit triggered a binge the first time I added it back in. I always eat fruit at the beginning of a meal and I make sure it's a large meal with fatty meat. That seems to eliminate the reaction to fruit and it's a great appetizer in a moderate portion followed by a salad and meat and cooked veggies.

4
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 17, 2012
at 06:43 PM

When did you start binging? On Paleo or before? Please let me know - it is important. Usually binge eating starts after severe caloric restriction. Have you ever fasted or restricted your caloric intake dramatically (lower than 1,600 calories per day)?

Oh, and this is VERY IMPORTANT: do not feel guilt or shame after a binge. If you feel guilty, it will make binge eating behavior even worse due to the way our brains function. Say to yourself "Oh, well, so I overate - not a big deal" it is going to help your brain to recover better.

It is going to be okay, don't worry - I know a lot of success stories of former binge eaters. The best method out there is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It really works.

3
Ab6fa1917815179062768c861b2efdab

on January 17, 2012
at 08:04 PM

I used to go through similar episodes, and I think the 3 important things that triggered them were a) emotional issues unrelated to food, b) psychological self- restriction (wanting to be thin and forbidding myself to eat out of fear to get fat), c) relying on carbs for most of my calories (->insatiable appetite). I was never anorexic or bulimic, but the constant hunger used to haunt me pretty much all the time.

It changed gradually for me. Started with emotional healing. Then, being a sort of a skinny fat and not able to lose weight, I just decided that weight wasn't going anywhere and I would have to accept myself as I were; just try to be as healthy as I could. This lifted the psychological pressure to be thin, and helped a lot. I became more mindful of what I eat and stopped repressing myself. Haven't heard of paleo at that point, but lost some weight anyways. I then gradually started to rely on fat/protein/veggies for most of my calories, and that was crucial, as eating mostly carbs keeps you constantly craving for more. Then binges went away.

I think emotional/psychological factor is very important, and I know how hard it can be to get out of mental traps. So try to work on that along with tweaking your diet towards more fat, safe starches, veggies and protein. And be gentle on yourself! Hope this helps.

3
E91fd339d760ed76cc72570a679ebf5a

(2369)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:29 PM

I found the book and online support program called Normal Eating by Sheryl Canter to be very helpful.

2
Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on January 20, 2012
at 12:19 PM

I've increased my calories from 3200 to 3500 while keeping exercise the same and I already feel much better. I haven't even begun to gain any scale weight, but at this point I may increase again just to put on some mass. Sure, I'd prefer to gain muscle, but at this point, even if I gain nothing but fat, I'm hoping to God I'll be a slightly fatter man no longer haunted by dreams of peanut butter.

Really, actually putting on some weight is the only thing I haven't tried. What have I got to lose? I know for a fact that I can lose it later if I want to. But again, if it eliminates my food obsession then I imagine I won't want to.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 20, 2012
at 12:31 PM

YAY! You're going to do awesome! And you have such a fun future ahead of you.

2
183f5c49a7a9548b6f5238d1f33cb35e

on January 18, 2012
at 12:44 AM

I have no direct experience with binging, but I did occasionally overeat in the past. My experience is that it goes away when I am consuming very nutrient dense foods.

I would suggest that you start eating some extremely nutrient dense foods for a few weeks, such as shellfish, pastured beef/sheep heart, liver, chicken knuckles, bone broth, marrow bones, seaweeds, seafood, roe etc. Also some tubers, leafy greens.

I find that organs and whole fish have an extremely satiating effect on the appetite. It might just put a damper on things?

2
D5a4ff096a452a84a772efa0e6bc626e

(2486)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:49 PM

What a hard thing to go through! I've binged before, but it was always in pursuit of neurochemicals and once I got my tweaks correct, the urges diminished and eventually disappeared. A few things do stick out to me:

1) You seem to lack a satiety signal...is that at every meal, or just during binges? If it's every meal, you may have leptin issues- if so, are you addressing that with getting early morning sun and regimented meal times? If it's just during binges, I had the same dysfunction, and EFT/psych coping mechanisms might help, or just gorge on veggies alone.

2) Are you lifting heavy? Are you sprinting? Putting on muscle normalized lots of my cravings, and for a month solid it was protein-sleep-protein-sleep and I've only binged since when I screw up with sugar. At 5'9" and a 'heavy' weight of 134 you could easily hold another 30+ pounds of muscle.

As far as the cravings, some people find l-glutamate directly on the tongue to dampen those feelings; others like daily doses of 5-HTP (that's what worked for me; I was serotonin low and it made me carb obsessed)

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 17, 2012
at 08:00 PM

Seconded for intense exercise, though I don't think it'd fix everything.

2
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on January 17, 2012
at 07:36 PM

Ok Matt...

Rule 1: Nobody's perfect. Don't allow one bad day to upset you or throw off your intentions for the rest of the week. You're still doing better than 95% of people.

Rule 2: Changing habits takes time. So many people build very complex relationships with food, bringing it in to every area of their lives, and it almost always ends up as an abusive relationship on both sides. It can be very hard to separate out your own identity, but take the time to recognise and acknowledge every little step you take towards greater freedom.

Rule 3: Learn from your mistakes. You know what happens, you know that buying the food is a bad idea, you know that first bite is a bad idea, but you just can't escape it. The idea grips you, and all the incredibly powerful circuitry your brain has built up keeps in to persuade you that it's inevitable. Ironically it's doing this to protect you, to rationalise events you have no control over to make you feel safe. I bet you could even write down all the arguments you make to yourself, all the little bargains struck, all the thoughts that lead you back down that path. If you want to do things differently, you have to stop listening. It's not about more control, it's about less. The moment you hear that familiar track start playing, you need to turn off your brain. Whether through a distraction, a change of scenery, meditation techniques or simple brute force - it's simply not up for negotiation. That is the control you have, to shut off the higher brain functions and tell your legs directly to just walk away.

Rule 4: If the stress is too much, eat. Trying to implement new plans when your mind is obsessing about food is likely only going to damage both your self-esteem and your confidence in the plan. It's not an excuse, and if you start doing it every day then you know there's a problem, but it sounds like you're actually doing pretty well most of the time, so keep trying to apply the advice you get here, try and make your binges more paleo, and don't worry if it doesn't quite work. Personally, I'd look to some kind of fasting, but there's lots of approaches which can and will work for you once you get the hang of them. And it really will get easier, this doesn't have to be something you struggle with forever.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 18, 2012
at 09:51 AM

It can put hunger in perspective quicker than anything else I know - we don't really know how 'disordered' his habits are but there are both better and worse ideas I'm sure.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:00 AM

Upvoted especially for rules 1 and 2, but kind of concerned about suggesting fasting to someone who is struggling with disordered eating habits.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 18, 2012
at 06:28 PM

I agree with PrimalDanny -- gradual practice of fasting was integral to gaining a better relationship with food. All I'd say to Matthius is you plan the fast and you plan to eat. It's ok to abort the fast but don't skip or reduce your planned meal because you "aren't hungry." Eat a large meal of paleo foods! Both fasting and eating are important to build healthy habits.

1
1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on January 20, 2012
at 05:21 PM

You got a lot of good advice here. I just want to add; one thing that really helped me when I was trying to get myself out of the anorexia loop was to give my scale away. It sounds simple and like it won't make much difference, but it was so liberating to break that cycle of waking up in the morning, weighing myself, and then spending my entire day thinking about food. I remember just wishing that I could be normal, that I could go for more than 5 minutes without obsessing over food. I would think about the number on the scale, and what I could do to make it smaller all day long. The first day without my scale was like performing without a net, but I slowly got over the need for it. It was just a piece of my healing process, but a simple and effective one. I wish you success. We should all be out there living and learning and eating when we need to fuel our bodies.

1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on January 20, 2012
at 11:50 PM

Thanks, Nance. You are my PH idol!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 20, 2012
at 05:24 PM

Wish I could give you more than one up-vote! I love this.

1
Medium avatar

on January 18, 2012
at 07:00 PM

The fact that so many self described binge eaters describe being binge eaters no matter what their food choices, leads me to doubt that "going paleo" should be expected to "cure" binge eating per se. The food within sight and within reach is the "cause" of binge eating, in the same sense that a well stocked department store is the "cause" of shoplifting. Prior to the acts/facts of binge eating, is the impulse. I would be interested in hearing from some self described bing eaters who felt the itch but chose not to scratch it (by embarking on an eating spree), and who, conversely, got good at hanging out with "hunger" in all its ravenous "I need it now" urgency.

Medium avatar

(8239)

on January 18, 2012
at 08:03 PM

Though I am not a traditionally religious person, I offer Paul's famous statement that seems to touch on impulse-eating, and impulse-anything: "I don't understand myself. I want to do what is right but I do not do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate ... It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what's right, I inevitably do what's wrong." (Romans 7:15)

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 18, 2012
at 07:35 PM

As a practical matter, if you're constantly fixing/eating meals and snacks it's pretty impossible to create emotional distance between yourself and food. Eating less often allows you time to cultivate other interests--literally.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 18, 2012
at 07:33 PM

Hi there, Dorado! Switching to ancestral foods was not enough to cure my (emotion-based) binge eating. The 2 things that made the difference for me were intermittent fasting (understanding the difference between physical/emotion-based hunger) and, for reasons unknown, drinking water kefir. If I feel twinges of emotional hunger, sipping fizzy water kefir sends them away. A regular habit of fasting broke my reliance on food for emotional support.

Medium avatar

(8239)

on January 18, 2012
at 08:02 PM

There have been times when I ate something I wish I hadn't, or ate too much of something I shouldn't, almost in an automatic, "I can't resist" way. Yet overall, binge-eating has not been a problem for me, so I cannot claim expertise in how to deal with it. I too, Nance, have gained a great deal from intermittent fasting.

06325b762f78a2b8aaa977161cca4a1f

(539)

on January 19, 2012
at 01:35 AM

Water kefir or kombucha helps keep binges at bay for me as well. More often water kefir because it's a lot less labor intensive than kombucha.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 18, 2012
at 07:26 PM

I think it's a habit that, for some, is easier to smother with better habits rather than simply unlearn. If you tie Paleo into preparing your own food, not shopping at supermarkets, earning food through activity etc. and commit to those concepts then over time they can be powerful enough that trying to binge while sticking to those rules just becomes too much effort. Some of it is counter-intuitive. The key often though is to resolve or at least address the emotional issues - the post-binge hangover can be a familiar and comfortable place for some.

1
0d50f54d2c57d74806be35d916f8dc74

(634)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:44 PM

I'm reading a book called Full-filled by Renee Stephens, which i've found interesting and helpful. It's specifically about ending bingeing.

I wish you peace.

0
Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on January 22, 2012
at 09:23 PM

My doctor wanted me to weight 145 by February 9 and I weighed 127 this morning. I totally flipped shit and have eaten over 12000 calories today and am not stopping. Food is constantly on my mind, I'm constantly hungry, and so I'm just stuffing myself in defeat. Please talk some sense into me before I poison myself. I don't want to restrict but I don't want to get fat again, I just want this nightmare to be over.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 22, 2012
at 09:28 PM

They might just tell you to go to the psych ER since it's a weekend. It might seem scary, but you need help.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 22, 2012
at 09:27 PM

yeah, I have to close this. This is honestly a serious problem and people do die from eating disorders. You should not just be working with a doctor, you should be working with a therapist. Suicide hotlines can help refer you to one. They are trained to deal with all kinds of self-harming behaviors, not just those typically thought of as suicidal like cutting. ED are suicidal behaviors as well. http://hopeline.com/

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 22, 2012
at 09:31 PM

You have many good wishes going with you Matthius! Please take Melissa's advice.

0
90059b56fd16d907eb92aeb498205173

(20)

on January 20, 2012
at 04:59 PM

The binges are likely to do with the sugar that your body is craving for energy. If you have not COMPLETELY cut out all of the grains and extra sugars, your body is still trying to use them for energy- rather than burning fat. You need to severely deprive your body of these things (about 2 weeks), so that your body will turn to the fat for fuel. Those cravings are your body looking for more energy, or glucose (sugar in the blood). once you have converted your body into a fat burner, the cravings will stop.. but no sooner. Read about blood sugar levels and insulin. Good luck!

0
Ca1d8a9439eebca4348630a7fab4f1ad

(0)

on January 20, 2012
at 02:52 PM

I was binging too on things like wheat thins, candy, etc etc and I managed to totally turn off all desire to binge by doing 2 things

1) I started taking 5 htp regularly

2) I went strict primal/paleo and cut out all grains, sugars, etc for a brief period of time. It's tough, but if you do it for long enough and combine it with the 5 htp supplements, the desire to binge goes away completely.

In my case it happened after doing low calorie low fat dieting but I've turned it around and am now a good weight for my height (5'2, 108 lbs). I highly recommend trying out what I did, it may work for you!

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