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3 Things Doctors Don’t Tell You About Binge Eating

Binge eating is a term millions of people around the globe identity with – constantly questioning their own behaviors when it comes to a relationship with food and wondering if they, too, are struggling with an epidemic that affects more than 70 million people worldwide. Many will do a Google search, perhaps hop on a YouTube clip and try and figure out if they are suffering from this disorder.

Binge eating is not like cancer, skin disease or a broken leg; when it’s a definite, there is no way you can by-pass these physical alignments. However, when it’s an emotional ailment that relates to something not talked about, it creates a lot of space for confusion and anxiety.

Then you have the extreme cases. Those who know, without a doubt, they are struggling with binge eating – the ones who are suffering in silence, the ones who have to sit on their hands to resist the entire plate of brownies at a family function. Although these behaviors might seem comical, or even unbelievable, to people who aren’t at the mercy of them, they take over the lives of those who are.

The Constant Battle

It’s a constant battle and a fight for mental space. The minds of sufferers are cluttered with mental anguish; they are on a constant search to break the battle and think about something other than their fight with food. Because resources are incredibly limited – both online and off – people visit their doctors looking for answers to their destructive food behaviors.

This was me, for years. I didn’t want to reach out to anyone because the shame associated with it was too much to bare. After reading every article on ‘mindful’ eating and how to not overeat I finally gave in. I was overwhelmed with all the information online; I tried time and time again, but still ended up in the same position. I was sick and tired of all the binge eating apps that didn’t work, the blogs that promised the ‘6 steps to freedom’ and all of that. I was over it and needed to take massive action.

I picked up the phone and dialed the number to my doctor. I was craving some ‘from the mouth’ information to help me end the madness that was taking over my mind and my life. After I hung up the phone, I had hope. I was so proud of myself for reaching out and asking someone (besides the trusted faces on YouTube) for help. My body sunk, as I finally had to admit to myself that this was an issue.

I took a seat at the doctor’s office. She came in with her clipboard and asked the general questions most doctors ask, “So, how have you been” and of course, the standard “So, what can I do for you?” After I took a deep breath, I nervously explained to her my struggle with food, how I was constantly restricting my diet, and how, for the life of me, I couldn’t resist Ben and Jerry’s at 2 a.m. when I decided to throw in the towel on my diet.

After I hung up the phone, I had hope. I was so proud of myself for reaching out and asking someone (besides the trusted faces on YouTube) for help. My body sunk, as I finally had to admit to myself that this was an issue.-Samantha Skelly

She didn’t ask many more questions; the look on her face was a bit like a deer-in-headlights. There was a heavy silence as she sat there looking at me, then her next words were “Well, how many calories are you eating a day?”

This was one of the hardest questions I’ve ever had to answer. I took a deep breath and said, “Well, it depends.” She looked down at her clipboard and she started writing a few things down. I immediately wondered what the hell she was writing, as I hadn’t said anything that would translate into a proper diagnosis.

“Depends on what?” she asked, tilting her head in pure wonder.

“It depends if I’m on a diet or not. When I am, it’s 600 or 700 calories a day, but when I’m not, it can be up to 3000.”

By the look on her face, I could easily tell she wasn’t in her wheel house. It was apparent she had no idea what direction to take this. She gave me some advice, which I followed to a tee. I went home and implemented what she said right away, looking for an answer to the madness I had created with this food-body relationship.

The advice she gave perpetuated my issue, spinning me into an even more obsessed state. She had great intentions, but no knowledge of the illness itself. She tried to treat my internal issue with an external solution. Although this wasn’t her intent, it was the reality of what happened.

Here are the three things doctors don’t tell you about binge eating:

  • Measuring Calories Creates Enhanced Obsession

My doctor suggested a food journal to write down every piece of every morsel I consumed. Because this was a practice I already did, I simply doubled down on it and made sure I didn’t breathe too heavy without recording it. Every morsel was taken into account. I believed this behavior was normal, my doctor told me to do it. She also told me which vaccines to take, and of course – I trusted her completely. When I’d wake up, I’d throw my journal in my purse on a quest to end this battle with the words and calories I wrote down at the end of the day.

To say I was obsessed would be an understatement. Each day, I would sit down at my oak desk with a comfy pillow under my bum and a hot tea. I would go through the list, one by one, asking myself the question “Did I really need this?” or the classic “Okay, what can I do tomorrow to make up for the unseeded calories consumed from today?” The answer was normally heavier restriction or over-exercising.

  • Importance of Meditation 

Ending the battle of binge eating requires you to be ‘in your body’ the one thing you’ve been running from for most of your life. My doctor didn’t tell me this. It was all trying to fix it from an external place which was digging deeper into the obsession. When I started seeing a coach, he told me “Sam, meditation is the access point into repairing the relationship you have to food and your body”.

At the time, sitting in silence trying to connect into my body felt like the most confronting activity of all time; I would rather throw myself off a cliff and hope for the best. However, meditation was the one thing I desperately needed for recovery.

  • Explore The Root Cause

We are all harboring deep rooted self-conscious beliefs that deep us stuck in the cycle of restricting and binge eating. They are all so deep within us – programs we don’t even know we are operating under. In order to get ‘unstuck,’ we need to explore these beliefs, for they are truly shaping who we are. I know, right; it’s not even fair…something we don’t even know about us taking over our lives and causing us to behave in ways that aren’t native to who are at our cores. The upside is that when we truly explore them and bring awareness to them, we are able to shift them. A great place to start is with your internal dialogue – the words you speak to yourself ‘in the background’ have an incredible impact on your feelings and, therefore, your behaviors.

The modern medical industry has our best interests at heart. The unfortunate reality is that they don’t know how to treat binge eating, which in fact, has nothing to do with food – it’s all an internal, emotional issue. And when we try to manipulate our calories, we perpetuate the problem of binge eating. We must treat internal issues with internal solutions.

Never Give Up Hope

You’re not alone in your struggle with food and body. Don’t be defeated; don’t think it’s impossible to end the battle. As soon as you integrate mind, body, head and heart, it’s inevitable you will break free.


Image Courtesy of iStock

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