Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Compulsive Overeater

Many people, my family and friends included, don't understand what it's like to be a compulsive overeater. I was telling a female coworker about my doctor prescribing me Prozac to help with my overeating and a male coworker said, "Just stop overeating." I told him that I couldn't and he informed me I could. It's not that simple...

I think about food about 100% of the day. When I wake up, I think about what I'm going to eat all day... breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, dessert... I obsess over what I can eat and when I can eat it. Can I fit in something sweet somewhere? As soon as I get to work, I plan my meals so that I don't go over my calories, but I figure out the best way to put everything so that I get to eat what I want. When the day is over, I'm thinking about what I'm going to eat the next day... It's a vicious cycle.

A lot of times, planning out my meals doesn't matter. Let's say I'm planning on making lasagna for dinner and I allow myself one slice that morning. After I make it, I'll eat that one slice and then obsess over wanting a second. I'll think about how much I want that second piece over and over and over... it's a constant nagging. I won't need it. I'll feel full, but I'll want it and my mind will nag me until I give in and eat the second piece.

I don't normally have huge binge episodes. I do have smaller binges occasionally and usually those will put me over my calories... usually they put me at double my allotted calories, but I don't really consider that a binge. I consider that overeating...

(Side Note: In the few minutes that it's taken me to write this first part of this entry, I've thought about how much I would like to have a soda... then it was some M&Ms - we have a quarter machine out front... then it was a candy bar from the vending machine... Thankfully I didn't get any of the above... I will make a comment about this later on.)

After pausing to do some research, I suppose that most people consider a binge to be anything more than 1500 in one sitting. A lot of restaurant meals would be considered a binge then. To me, a binge is eating more than 2500 calories in one sitting. That's two days worth of food, but in one sitting... Above I said that a small binge usually put me at double my allotted calories for a day... That's with all of my other eating as well... A normal binge would be 2500 calories in itself. I don't do that often, but when I do, I just can't stop myself.

My most recent binge was the one I told my doctor about. I'm going to write it here in all of the detail that I can remember... I got home from work that day and was home alone. I decided I wanted to have macaroni and cheese for dinner. It's not unusual for me to eat an entire box of macaroni and cheese when I'm hungry. I know that's a lot of food, but regardless... So, I made the mac and cheese. When it got done, I sat on the couch and ate the entire box. Then I sat there for about ten minutes. All of a sudden, I had this urgency to eat something sweet. I wanted ice cream, but we didn't have any... so I obsessed over it for about ten more minutes and decided that I could have a bowl of cereal. My cereal bowls are huge and hold about four cups of cereal. I filled it to the rim with Fruit Loops. Then I scarfed that down in about five minutes. That didn't hit my sweet tooth for some reason so I still obsessed over wanting something sweet. I needed something sweet. I searched my kitchen and found a box of waffles in the freezer. I made four of them. When they popped up from the toaster, a coated them in butter and full calorie maple syrup. I scarfed those down too... At this point I felt slightly sick and just disgusted with myself. I am not one to purge as I hate puking, but I was almost wishing my stomach would rebel. It didn't. I sat there disappointed and angry with myself for having that binge. I ate about 3000 calories in that one sitting. My calories for that entire day were probably at 4000. That's over three times what I'm supposed to have in just one day... and I ate it all in just one day.

What most people don't understand is the helplessness that is felt when you just can't stop yourself from eating. Most people eat until they are full and then they're done. Me... I eat until I want to throw up... the entire time thinking "I don't need this. What am I eating for?" but I cannot stop. I want to and I can't. I feel this urgency to just keep eating and eating and eating until my mind is satisfied.

I don't know if this makes any sense... It's incredibly hard to explain to someone that doesn't deal with it on a daily basis. It's incredibly hard to have any willpower when your mind is telling you that you don't only want something, but you need it. The obsession that is felt until that need is satisfied is unlike anything I've felt before...

The good news is that I believe my Prozac is working. Like I said earlier, I had thought about wanting something sweet which normally would have turned into an obsession and I would have had to eat whatever I was craving, but not this time... I was able to just say no and not eat the sweets.

So: Crystal-1, Urge to Binge-0

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