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Christian Allison

can't.... stop..... binging!!!!!!!

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Hello everyone,

I have attempted this 3 times now. I make it about one week and then it starts... I want to eat all the time. Then I overeat on "legal" foods, then I just say screw it and eat about a gallon of ice cream. I have been struggling with binge eating for over a year. I have desperately searched and searched for an answer to this. I have found that I will abuse any food. I can binge on steak, fruit, even salad. I want to eat all the time. After I eat breakfast, I am counting down the minutes till lunch. I can't concentrate or get anything done.

I have been addicted to hard drugs before and I used to drink alcohol daily and smoke cigarettes. Those things were a piece of cake to give up compared to this. I feel like I have been sucked into the pits of hell and can't dig myself out. I am exhausted of failing over and over again. I am the heaviest I have ever been. I used to be attractive and now I don't even want to go into public. My self esteem is the worst is has ever been. I feel so fat and ugly - I don't have any clothes that fit me anymore. What's left is baggy and sloppy looking, but I feel like it covers up all the fat.

I know it is a reward thing in the brain because as a teenager, I used to like chocolate. When I smoked, I was indifferent to chocolate - so it is like I exchanged one addiction for another. Somehow, I didn't have any food issues when I quit smoking. The binging started when I was trying to lose my baby weight and obsessively dieted/exercised in an unhealthy manner - I got way too thin. I guess one day I had enough and I just gave in and ate... and ate... and ate some more. After that, it has been every few days for over a year now, and I feel like I can't stop.

I don't think the Whole30 is really too restrictive to me. It's just that I want to lose the weight, so I find that I am not allowing myself fruit, restricting starchy vegs, etc. I love vegetables and actually prefer to eat that way - it's just the cravings take over and I can't get it out of my system. I can't even cook a meal without wanting to pick at it before it's done.

Anyone out there with similar issues? If anyone has successfully beat this, I need some advice.

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Probably the most efficient thing is to find yourself a good therapist and spend some time talking about your life. It sounds like you are managing stress with food and you need to learn more effective strategies. And with things like this, you need personal support from someone who understands and cares. It is difficult to get it from a book or an internet chat. I worked with a variety of therapists over the years and appreciate the contribution almost all of them made to my life.

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Well, congrats on beating the other addictions. Shows a real willpower. Don't skip the fat and the starchy veggies. You need them to feel satisfied. I am (was) a binge eater also, but have not felt the need 14 days into this Whole30. I also cleaned out all trigger and non compliant foods from my pantry, fridge and freezer. There is nothing to slip up on but a can of almonds. I use a lot of new recipes and fresh seasonings, so that the meals are so good that I am not missing anything. I also do meat, healthy fat and a veggie or two with each meal. You can do this. Don't focus on the weight loss. I have 40 pounds to lose, so I know how hard that is, but seriously focus on being healthy and if building a good relationship with your food. The weight has to come off from the simple fact your diet is being cleaned up and you are efficiently fueling your body.

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I don't think the Whole30 is really too restrictive to me. It's just that I want to lose the weight, so I find that I am not allowing myself fruit, restricting starchy vegs, etc. I love vegetables and actually prefer to eat that way - it's just the cravings take over and I can't get it out of my system. I can't even cook a meal without wanting to pick at it before it's done.

Tom has a good point. There's lots of stuff going on here and it's unlikely that we will be able to solve it all on an internet forum.

That said, this statement stood out for me. I'm just guessing, here, but I've known a few people who had issues with binging/night eating, etc., where it was a result of them being overly restrictive otherwise. Your body craves nutrients, if you don't provide them some really wierd stuff can happen. How about trying to see this whole30 as a break from restriction? How about trying to eat to satisfaction, really eat as much as you want of the good foods (and good fats, etc)? The meal template is a great guideline, let youself have at least that much for a few weeks--without second-guessing or trying to lose weight for now--and see how things transform.

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Thanks guys for your replies! I am in agreement that a lot of this is probably psychological. I have been on a "diet" for years, even when I was not overweight. I no longer know how to function without some form of food restriction. I have so much anxiety over when and how much I am going to eat. I cannot tell you the last time I have truly enjoyed food because it either comes with guilt or it has been "diet" food that just doesn't taste good. So, it def has a psychological aspect and I do plan on seeing a therapist soon. The reason I compare it to my addiction is because like addicts, I do use food to deal with stress; however, I get random cravings for food as well during times when I am not stressed and am well fed - much like an alcoholic gets cravings during random times of day. Has anyone experienced this? Brain chemistry or hormonal changes, perhaps?

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I am completely in the same boat as you. Though I have never been addicted to drugs or tobacco, I have dealt with an eating disorder & am on the 9th day of my 4th Whole30 attempt. I am starting to realize how much my uncontrollable desire to binge and eat on, literally, anything (celery, foods I don't even like!) just to have something to do is related to emotional issues - that I didn't even realize that I have!

I have been reading through some of the blog posts at www.firstourselves.org and ordered Anatomy of a Food Addiction: The Brain Chemistry of Overeating: An Effective Program to Overcome Compulsive Eating but have yet to start reading it. I am realizing how addicted I am to the habit of turning to food whenever I feel an emotion that may be uncomfortable, and I experience unbelievable anxiety if I am unable to binge.

I think our brain chemistry has been severely messed up with the diets we used to eat, medications we've taken, and all the other environmental toxins that could negatively affect our systems. When I'm able to adhere to the Whole30 guidelines I feel like a completely different person! So much more level headed, satisfied, and finally in control of my own actions around food. I hope I can hold out until the last day & continue to work on improving my relationship with myself and food.

Hope this helps some, & know that there are definitely others out there suffering from the same problems! ;)

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Your body craves nutrients, if you don't provide them some really wierd stuff can happen. How about trying to see this whole30 as a break from restriction? How about trying to eat to satisfaction, really eat as much as you want of the good foods (and good fats, etc)? The meal template is a great guideline, let youself have at least that much for a few weeks--without second-guessing or trying to lose weight for now--and see how things transform.

That is a really important point. I wish I had said that! :) Part of why a Whole30 can be so powerful is because it leads to your body being really nourished, maybe for the first time in years. Being nourished can make a lot of cravings disappear.

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I no longer know how to function without some form of food restriction. I have so much anxiety over when and how much I am going to eat. I cannot tell you the last time I have truly enjoyed food because it either comes with guilt or it has been "diet" food that just doesn't taste good.

I really hope you can get past this. Anxiety about food will make the whole process harder and obviously make you miserable. The guilt has got to go. I have had trouble with binging off and on, although I wouldn't say I ever took it to extremes. But once I had one bad day (afternoon, usually), I used that as an excuse to be out of control the rest of the day or typically the rest of the week. I already screwed up, so I may as well enjoy it, right? Well I didn't enjoy it. I just felt worse and worse the more unnecessary food I ate.

Had a bit of a breakthrough recently. There was a jar of sunbutter in the garage fridge for the last 2+ months. I didn't think I liked it (almond butter is WAY better!) and I hadn't even thought about it for a long time. All of a sudden, I had to try it again. Spoonful after spoonful. Dang, this actually is good. Well, I couldn't stop thinking about it, and the next day I polished off the rest of the jar in that one sitting...and it was about half full. But you know what? I decided for once I wasn't going to beat myself up about it. I dusted myself off, had a smaller dinner than normal (uhh...because I was kind of stuffed with a mildly upset stomache!), and got right back to eating the way I know I should the next day. I'm not proud that I ate all of that, and I won't be buying any more, but I do NOT feel guilty about it. I think maybe it's the guilt and/or anxiety (for me anyway) that triggers the continuation of a binge that can easily be stopped after that one event.

I agree that a therapist would be a great route for you. But maybe in the meantime you can try to just not be so hard on yourself, even if you do eat too much. It doesn't mean you're a failure. You CAN gain control of this, but you'll have to be patient with yourself. You won't get all the results you want overnight.

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You deserve pretty and comfortable clothing that fits you well at the size you are now and makes you feel great. They exist in every possible size and price point imaginable. It's common to say to ourselves that we can get new clothes when we are such and such size, or I don't want to waste $ on ____ size because we won't be there very long, but I think that sets us up to feel bad about our bodies and then to treat our bodies badly, i.e. bingeing.

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I love this whole thread, everyone has such great points. I have struggled with binge-eating for years! I think we call it binge eating because we feel that it is outside of OUR OWN normal eating behavior. There are plenty of people out there who overeat and treat their bodies poorly- but it's not something they're worried about. Just the fact that you have begun this journey means that you are on your way to recovery! And as you can see, we are all in this together!

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Hey Allison,

My heart goes out to you. I too have disordered eating patterns I am working through. I am starting my day 3 and already feel changes taking place. I am able to eat a meal an not think about food constantly. I am able to go 4 or 5 hours without eating whereas before I was hungry within an hour, maximum 2.

I have done a lot of work with therapy and it did help. But ultimately, you have to be able to catch yourself in the moment you are about to binge. There is a moment where you turn into someone else and turn off your awareness. If you can catch yourself in this moment, you have a chance to make another decision. The night is the hardest time for me, but when I stop and question what is really going on, it is usually that I am tired. So the last couple nights I have simply gone to bed.

I think some mindfulness practices may help you. Have you ever tried yoga or meditation? There are free talks and guided meditations on www.dharmseed.org. They all come from a Buddhist perspective. Although I am not Buddhist, I don't feel they are too religious and have found a lot of help there.

Also, you may want to look at your purpose in life. I found that I was making my disorder my purpose because I didn't have another that I felt was worthwhile...just food for thought.

I wish you all the best on your journey. If you ever need to chat feel free to message me.

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Don't skimp on the starch/fat like the others have already said!!

I struggled with binge eating for a few years but now I feel like I've pretty much got it under control. Pre-Whole30 I would eat what I thought was sufficient and would be quite satisfied for a few days and then I'd binge and eat several days worth of food in one sitting (no exaggeration) This happened more and more often and I started piling on weight. It started with me as well after I lost too much weight and got too thin, I then started binging and couldn't stop. I tried everything but nothing helped until Whole30 :)

Anyway, what I've worked out from my experience overall is that the body DOES NOT LIKE it when you don't feed it enough. It will not let you get away with it. It might take a few days to kick up a stink but it will. And you will binge. The Whole30 seems to be about relearning how much food you actually need. After dieting and losing lots of weight, I think we forget what a normal amount of food is and keep eating diet portions. Inevitably weight loss plateaus and so we feel like the amounts we're eating are sufficient. But they're not, we've just stuffed our metabolisms up.

What stopped my binging was simple - eating more. I often felt like I was eating waaaayyy too much during my first Whole30 and I just had to keep repeating to myself "I'm keeping the demons at bay, keeping the demons at bay" and stick to the meal template. The urge to binge just.... went.

I've only lost a little bit of weight compared to a lot of people here but I think when you've lost too much weight in the past your body is on high alert for a looooong time to make sure it doesn't get starved again, so alarm bells ring loudly with much smaller food deficits. You may have to be very very patient with the weight loss but once your eating patterns become normal and healthy again, I would bet that your body will follow suit.

Good luck, I have all my digits crossed for you, I hope you get some peace from this and regain control of your diet and your life! :)

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Thinking good thoughts for you! This sounds really intense. I agree with others that a therapist would be very helpful. Get someone on your team. Acupuncture can also be helpful for relieving anxiety and dealing with addiction issues. Take good care of yourself - positive affirmations, good sleep, etc. You are valuable and worthy of happiness and wellness.

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You have done amazing things in your life, kicking the addictions you've had.

Here is one thing I know: if beating ourselves up were an effective tool for self-improvement, none of us would be fat, broke, underemployed, or addicted to anything! It isn't!

The discipline, energy, and persistence it takes to find a new way in life is SO CHALLENGING that only enormous self-care, self-regard, and kindness can see us through.

I have found mindfulness-based meditation and therapy enormously helpful in dealing with the ongoing, significant stressors in my life. If you google "mindfulness based stress reduction" you may be able to find a teacher in your area.

In any event....mindfulness means "attention without judgement" so if you just cultivate the art of watching how your mind works, noting the moment that you say "screw it" to yourself and dive into the ice cream, you will eventually find another way to deal with that moment.

I don't think overeating on nutrient dense food is as damaging as diving into the foods that are created in a lab to hit the bliss point. So eat your steak and brussel sprouts with olive oil and lamb chops and coconut milk and let the goodness in.

*hugs*

Pea

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I just came onto the forum to leave a practically IDENTICAL post to this one, its odd how much what you have said here is similar to my situation. I too struggle with binge eating, it is the number one issue i wanted to address with the whole30. i dont have particular gluten, dairy or legume issues (apart from absolitely no bloating when i cut them out, and a little when i include them, nothing extreme). My biggest problem is binge eating. I find it easier when i just say no, this this post for quite a good description of the way i feel about it: http://robbwolf.com/2012/10/10/pushing-buttons/

But it was this:

"The binging started when I was trying to lose my baby weight and obsessively dieted/exercised in an unhealthy manner - I got way too thin...."

that resignated with me. The bingeing started for me too after a period of dramatic, fast weight loss (anorexia, 3 years ago now), and i have been dealing with it (off and on) ever since.

I completed the whole30 to 23 days last year before making a conscious decision to stop as i felt it was getting in the way of key life changes i wanted to make at that time. And this year i decided to give it a go ago and was fully committed to it, no bingeing, no sugar dragon. It was great. for 23 days and then i visted home and binged on muesli and granola etc etc. I started up the next day, made it to 12 days. started up again, made it to 5 days. For the past three days i have been in bed all days binging and binging and binging. in the last two hours i snapped out of it, rang my friend, cried about it, showered and now i feel normal again. it literally feels like a switch that someone just flicks on and off as they please. and the worst thing? i feel i have absolutely. no. control.

I start again tomorrow and im doing things a bit different this time. Every time i got more leniant with my sugar dragon. I was just tryign to 'get it done' every time i restarted, and now i have a different attitude. If i do it, i may as well do it right. and for me the issue is psychological, so i have to give more attention to things like my cravings, rather than the intricacies of the programme (however i will not be ingesting any off plan ingredients!)

I just mean that because of the reasons why i am doing this, i need to focus more on the impact food is having on my brain than the others. Make the whole30 work for you and only you, nobody else benefits from this but you so you may as well make it worth it, that my attitude anyway. Here goes. I hope you are doing well :)

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I'm not proud that I ate all of that, and I won't be buying any more, but I do NOT feel guilty about it. I think maybe it's the guilt and/or anxiety (for me anyway) that triggers the continuation of a binge that can easily be stopped after that one event.

just read a few of the posts above and 100% agree with JJB's point here, i feel its best for me to keep nuts and nut butters out of my cupboards (although i have some justin's single serve packs that i will eat with caution!) as well as dried fruit but if anything does 'happen' then i'm just NOT going to sweat it. Its a habit to get really guilty, but the whoel30 is all about breaking habits, right? And i think this is an incredibly important habit to break, for me anyway! :)

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Hi there,

 

I know this is a very old thread but I just wanted to say to anyone struggling with binge eating, please read this book:

 

"Brain Over Binge: Why I Was Bulimic, Why Conventional Therapy Didn't Work, And How I Recovered For Good."

By Kathryn Hansen

 

After 20 years of binge eating/bulimia and of desperately searching for answers, this was the thing that finally helped to me to understand exactly what was going on, and I kicked binge eating to the curb once and for all.

 

I'm now just coming to the end of my first whole 30, it's been an incredible to actually feed myself and allow myself to eat and nourish myself properly.  Literally life changing. :)

 

x

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thank you for bringing this thread back!! I needed it! I was anorexic more than a decade ago, now am obese. I have NEVER had a healthy relationship with food, one of the main reasons I am doing the whole 30, and I just had my first binge (on compliant food, but still a binge nonetheless) on day 9 and I am extremely upset with myself. I am going to read this book. I am proud that I didn't go off plan, but a binge is a binge and I am disappointed in myself.

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I want to say thank you as well for bringing this thread back!!! I struggled with anorexia for over 15 years; while that side of things has been relatively dormant for the past few years, the binge monster has recently made itself known (in the last year or so). Though I've never eaten mass quantities of food at a time, it's the feelings that provoke the eating that make me classify it as bingeing. Like many others, one of my main reasons for doing the Whole30 is to improve my relationship with food. I am proud to say that this way of eating has tamed the binge monster significantly (though I'd be lying if I said the urges have disappeared completely).

Anyway, what I want to say is to Christian Allison, the person who started this thread: IT DOES GET BETTER. Your body is smart - it won't led you get away with starving for very long. Personally, though I've been at a healthy weight for a few years now, the "residual hunger" is only just beginning to wane. For so long, I would finish a meal knowing I was satisfied physically, but that emotional nagging that I still needed a little something more was, I believe, left over from my anorexia days when I actually did need more food. My brain got so used to that pattern of thinking that it became a habit; stress and anxiety did not help that fact. I second the shout-out to acupuncture for that - it has literally saved my life! I also second the suggestion to not limit carbs and fat - the former help to keep the (refined) sugar demons at bay, the latter helps you feel more satisfied, while a combo of the two (+ protein) promote feeling full and grounded. If I don't eat starchy carbs, I feel super hungry ALL. THE. TIME. No to mention the fact that as soon as you tell yourself you can't have something, you want it - and more ;)

So, my suggestions in a nutshell, based on experience:

1. Don't limit food at mealtimes, especially carbs and fat. Eating enough (or even a little too much) at meals will, over time, let your body know that you aren't starving it anymore and the cravings/urges will calm down.

2. Manage stress! Easier said than done, obviously, but try: acupuncture, yoga, deep breathing, talking it out with a friend/loved one, drinking tea, taking a bath, reading, playing an instrument, drawing...anything that is soothing and self-nurturing. BONUS TIP: Doing something with your hands ((i.e. music, crafts) can also help in the short term because it temporarily occupies your mind AND body, temporarily distracting you from your problems. I say "in the short term" because ideally you want to face your problems head-on in order to conquer them. However, I have found that when the feelings are irrationally intense and/or overwhelming, distraction helps me to step far enough back from the problem to deal with it more effectively (kind of like when you "sleep on" something and see it in a different light in the morning). 

3. LET. IT. GO. As was said, if you "slip up" in any way: accept it, backtrack to figure out why it happened (hint: emotions!), and move the eff on!!!

Hope this helps! xoxo

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One more thing: forgot to mention my mantra! When the urge to eat when I'm not hungry comes up, I say to myself, food won't fix it. A.k.a, food will not solve whatever problem I am dealing with avoiding. It helps, honestly.

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I need to restart my W30 tomorrow due to a binge. I am also grateful this post was resurrected as the OPs and others experiences mirror what I've been going through since I completed my first W30 back in January. I just can't seem to get the momentum going.

 

I have read Brain Over Binge, but the concept just isn't sticking. little mighty, appreciate your suggestions and will give more food at mealtimes a try over the next 30 days.

 

acupuncture, eh? As someone who is kind of afraid of needles, that might cause me more anxiety - but maybe I can scrounge up the budget for a weekly massage for the next month to give myself something to look forward to at each successful week's end.

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I agree with Tom and Miss Mary. Try to find a good therapist to talk with in conjunction with feeding yourself plenty of nutrient-dense real foods.

 

Also, with your past history of drug addiction it's probably not a stretch to assume you have delicate brain chemistry - good levels of dopamine, serotonin and endorphins are critical in your healing process. So DO NOT SKIMP ON STARCHY CARBS. Eat them at every meal - yes, every meal. You may gain a tad more weight to begin with while you heal (you may not - I eat starchy carbs all the time and I haven't gained any weight) - but isn's this better than living in a mental hell?

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My experiences are wholly my own, and I haven't really had an eating disorder, only disordered eating.  But I did struggle with disordered eating for pretty much half my life.

 

I have two points to make:

 

You will not be able to permanently lose weight until you make peace with food.  Permanent weight loss does not come from restricting foods and further complicating your relationship with food.  You need to be able to live with food comfortably before you can make lasting changes to your eating and your body.  I did this through therapy and reading LOTS AND LOTS of books, particularly Geneen Roth.  She says that your attitude towards food is your attitude towards everything you do, and it's really true.  If you make peace with yourself in other areas of your life, it will be much easier to make peace with food.

 

You have to live IN your body.  This one I still struggle with.  For years I was a head with this annoyingly large body I dragged around with it.  Four years ago I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance and it was truly the first time in my life that I realized that I could actually pay attention to what my body was telling me.  Now, I can't eat many, many things because of the way I feel afterwards.  I am finally in touch (mostly) with my body, and I really put a LOT of effort into integrating my body and mind.  I also had to do a lot of work in making peace with my life and with food (see point #1 above) before I was able to start doing this.

 

I wish you nothing but the best of luck in sorting through this.  I know that it's possible to come out the other side.  I'm mostly there and it's the most glorious thing in the world, mostly because I thought I'd never, ever be able to.  This is such a cliche thing to say, but it's true, even though you don't know me or know anything about me, but I truly believe that if I can do it, anyone can.

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