I Thought I Was The Only One
I spent years binge eating in secret, thinking this was just my little issue with food. Little did I know just how common it is.
I can’t exactly remember when I first binged on food.
It came on gradually, I think.
First, I start sneaking food when mum wasn’t looking.
When I started getting pocket money I would buy chocolate bars from the vending machine at school.
During university there were days where I skipped school, coming out of bed only to buy more food.
I’d steal my housemates’ food when there was nothing else to eat.
Sometimes I couldn’t help myself and ate the whole pack, and I’d have to go out to the supermarket to replace it. If the nearby supermarket had run out of it, I’d have to run around town to find a replacement. And then, to make sure my housemates wouldn’t notice what I’d done, I’d eat it back to the level where it was at before I got my hands on it.
I’d “work from home” on binge days. Or I’d just call in sick. Sometimes 3 days in a row.
This one time, I ordered Uber Eats from two different places at once, and the delivery guys arrived at my house at the same time. I was so ashamed.
I’d hide the wrappers, containers, bags at the bottom of the bin. Sometimes in the neighbours’ bin.
I was so good at it. At hiding it. I had the best excuses. I knew the right things to say to explain my absences, or dinner cancellations.
My parents never knew. My husband never knew. My boss didn’t know. My friends had no idea.
Heck, even I didn’t know that this thing I had been doing in secret for nearly 20 years was called binge eating. I just assumed it was my little issue with food. I just assumed it was my lack of willpower for not being able to eat the way I knew I should eat.
I didn’t even really know it was a problem, so I never asked for help.
The trainers at the gym, the diet books, they just kept saying: ‘eat like this and you’ll lose weight’. I was ashamed to tell them that I really struggled to stick to their rules. That some days, I just lost it with food. So I would pretend it never happened.
It wasn’t until I finally spoke up about my binge eating, just over a year ago, that I realised just how common it is.
One after the other, women started messaging me, telling me that they really resonated with what I was saying, and that it happened to them too. That they too had been hiding this from their spouses. That they too were ashamed, and that they’d never asked for help. That they too thought they were the only one.
If you’re reading this, and if this resonates, know that you are not alone.
The official statistics say that about 4% of the population struggle with binge eating. Those are just the ones that have actually gone to a doctor or psychiatrist and got diagnosed.
But considering how many of us don't ever talk about it, or don't even realise this is an issue, I reckon it's much more common than we think.
Anyone who has been chronically dieting, who is unhappy with their body, or for whom food is an important comfort, will have experienced binge eating to some extent.
So this isn’t just your little issue with food.
This isn’t your lack of willpower, or lack of self-control.
More importantly, this isn’t anything to be ashamed of at all.
There are perfectly valid reasons why we binge, and once you understand these, it’s possible to get relief within a matter of days.
While everyone's journey is different, binge eating is typically a reaction to restrictive eating and restrictive thinking, brought on by years of chronic dieting, or it pops up when food has become someone's main coping mechanism or escape.
Both are valid. And both can easily be overcome.
Don’t spend another day suffering in silence.
Even just talking about it to someone who understands can make a real difference.