(Warning: discussion of disordered eating in this post.)
It’s said by many professionals that eating disorders thrive on secrecy. So, it’s in my best interest to be honest.
I’m a binge eater.
By “binge eater”, I mean that I can eat – and have eaten – an exceptionally large amount of food in a short amount of time.
My eating disorder – because that is what it is – has cost me my health. I am diabetic, I have sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and I feel lethargic all the time. Most, if not all, of these issues are tied to heredity, but I won’t try and fool myself – they’re also affected by my eating habits.
See, when I’m in the middle of a binge eating episode, it’s so good. It’s almost orgasmic good. As soon as the last bite is swallowed, I realize what I’ve done to myself and I feel awful. I go from bliss to guilt in the span of a few bites of food. I know this is disordered eating, and yet I keep doing it to myself for that oh-so-short feeling of bliss.
I came to the realization that this needed to stop a few weeks ago when I saw my doctor for my regular checkup. Since January, I’ve been regressing back into my binge eating patterns really bad due to stress and anxiety. I hadn’t gotten to the point where I was hiding it from my husband yet, but I was getting close. So I decided to talk to her about my anxiety and stress eating, and see if she could recommend anything that could help – therapy, medications, anything. I was really hoping that she wouldn’t send me to a nutritionist, since me not knowing portions and nutrition isn’t my issue.
I sat in her office, shaking out of fear, almost on the verge of tears. I’m not stupid, I told her. I know this needs to stop. I know this is doing harm to my body. My cholesterol is through the roof. I need help.
Bless her for understanding and not giving me the cold shoulder, or telling me to “eat less and move more”, or all the other placating things that doctors have told me over the years. She recommended that I try this drug called Contrave. It doesn’t help repress your appetite, like phentermine (which I tried and it didn’t work). What it does is triggers the feeling of being full sooner, so you don’t eat as much, and also helps you with that “reward” center in your brain that goes off when you binge. She told me that I was not the first person that she sees with this issue, and wanted to try this to see how it works for me. She also said that she’d be more than happy to recommend a therapist. I told her I wanted to see someone specifically for binge eating, and she said she would do some research to find someone.
She gave me the first month as a sample, a prescription to take to the pharmacy, and a savings card from the manufacturer. I just started my third week, and although I’ve had the occasional moment where I over ate (and very quickly discovered WHY this is a bad idea on Contrave), I feel like it’s starting to do some good. I know I’ve been eating less of my plates and I don’t feel the burning need to eat all day long. I haven’t felt the need – the drive – to binge once. Some of it may be psychosomatic, some may not. All I know is that I’m experiencing some difference, and that it’s helping.
So, now to get to the meat of this post. I know, y’all are thinking “wait, this ISN’T the focus of this post?” Nope.
So now the question is: how do I come to terms with stopping my disordered eating patterns, and taking what is technically a “diet pill”, without feeling like a total hypocrite about being part of the body positivity movement?
I believe that Health At Every Size (HAES) is a thing. I believe in loving yourself, no matter what your size. I believe that fat people are no less human than anyone else, and deserve to be treated as such. I believe in fashion for every size and shape and age. I dislike that women’s magazines and click bait websites targeting women focus on things Iike dropping pounds to get “beach ready” or “wedding ready” or “prom ready” or whatever-ready. I believe putting value on yourself becaue of a number on a scale is foolish. I believe I should be able to eat a slice of cake – or even lunch – without having people judge me.
I’m a firm believer in the power of body love. It’s done wonders for me. But there are times when I wonder if I’m really part of the movement, or if I’m just a hypocrite, because I WANT to stop binge eating.
The bopo activists that I see out there are amazing. Some of them are gorgeous fat ladies who just said “fuck it” and decided to make self love just one form of activism. Some of them are recovering from eating disorders and are helping others while helping themselves. Some of them just spread the word that it’s perfectly okay to love our body and tell diet culture to kiss our collective asses. I love reading things from all of them. I love looking at their pictures on Instagram, I love feeling like I’m part of their movement.
But I also recognize that when I binge, I’m not just eating to feed hunger, or to give my body the sustenance it needs. I’m feeding something else, something dark and fucked up and wrong. I’m doing something to stop it. But is that giving in to diet culture? I don’t care about being skinny, I don’t care about being beach or summer ready because I’m ready for that as I am. I just want to stop feeling like my ONLY joy comes from eating. I want to feel that same joy when I hug my husband, or see my family, or kiss Gizmo on his snoot.
After some discussion and weeks of thought, this is what I’ve concluded:
Body positivity is about loving yourself. Loving yourself means taking care of yourself. I feel that I cannot love my body if I am constantly feeling awful, which is how binging makes me feel. So, my act of self-love is to do some really real self-care, by stopping what is harming myself. And if that means taking a drug which results in me feeling better, that HAS to be a positive step forward.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment, tweet me, or drop me a line.