What technically qualifies as binge eating?
I just ate an avocado as well as a full, albeit tiny, jar of tahini, about half a cup, with a bit of ghee and cinnamon, which was delicious. Is it a mental state that defines what is and isn't a binge? I don't really feel that self-loathingy about it, although it was I'm sure about as much calorie-wise as a normal full day.
Is this extremely extremely unhealthy, calories aside? And how often do you have to do things like this for it to be outside the realm of normal eating? I probably eat like this once a week or so.
You know how after a long day of work, you're driving home, you walk inside and think t yourself, how did I get home...you don't remember the trip, the time...to me, that is a binge...you've ingested all these calories but don't remember doing it, it's as though you were outside your body watching what was going on, and then all of a sudden you snap out of it and your only reward…clean up the mess...it's never about the food per say, at least for me, it's about the loss of control and trust me, I've binged to where if someone walked in on me, they’d recoil in horror as though I'd just punched a baby…damn you double stuffed Oreos, WHY must you be so tasty!! Truth.
I think if you have to ask, then it's likely not a binge. For me, when I'm on a binge, I keep finding myself thinking why am I still eating, and then I eat more, and keep wondering why. Feels a bit out of control. Definitely have regret afterwards. Often so bad that I develop a stomach ache from being over full, and then keep eating more.
My personal definition is something like, "Compulsively eating well past the point of satiety, and even enjoyment."
Eating a gallon of ice cream with chocolate syrup in one sitting is a binge. Eating an entire cake--and finishing it even though it no longer tasted good and I wanted to vomit--was a binge. When I was a kid in art school I used to binge on fast food, eating enough for three or four hungry people at a go. I'd eat to the point of great discomfort, where eating another bite seemed impossible--but I'd still finish whatever food was in front of me, almost as punishment. That's binge behavior. But the quantity of food, or even the type, is less important than what was happening in my head.
These days, I do intermittent fasting, and when I do eat I eat a lot. I like the feeling of a full stomach after a big meal, and lazing around contentedly afterward. Imagine a lioness gorging herself after a kill, then taking a nap, and that's me. And some days, I eat a lot more than others. But the crucial difference is that I recognize satiety--and stop eating when I'm no longer hungry. I can wrap up the leftovers and put them in the fridge for later; I don't feel compelled to keep eating until it's all gone. And I don't feel shame at eating a lot, or feel like it's something I need to do in secret, either.
I think it's possible to overlabel behavior.
There is a definition of binge eating in DSM-IV TR (which is still being evaluated for accuracy, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19610126, and is the subject of some controversy, http://www.bingeeatingbulimia.com/blog/2012/4/13/debate-over-the-definition-of-binge-eating.html):
An episode of binge eating is characterized by:
Eating a larger amount of food than normal during a short period of time (within any two hour period)
Lack of control over eating during the binge episode (i.e. the feeling that one cannot stop eating).
associated with three or more of the following:
a. Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
b. Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry
c. Eating much more rapidly than normal
d. Eating alone because you are embarrassed by how much you're eating
e. Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty after the episode
Larger than "normal" is a little slippery and hard to pin down, but one avocado and half a cup of hummus? tahini? wouldn't qualify as a "binge" in my book.
It's a compulsion. You feel like you simply have to continue shoveling food down your throat (despite barely chewing and/or tasting it) and you cannot stop. You feel full, but you cannot stop. Your jaw hurts from chewing so hard, but you cannot stop. Your stomach bloats uncomfortably and starts to become painful, and you cannot stop. You just... cannot stop. Something else is taking over your body (specifically your hands and your mouth) - it's a very surreal experience. Lots of rationalization thoughts going on in your head.
A binge is very difficult to define or explain, because while binging, there's very little clarity. You lose yourself in the compulsion and in the food, so it's hard to understand exactly what's going on - and exactly how to define what's going on. It's hard to remember exactly what was going on in my head while I was binging.
So, a binge is hard to explain, but anyone who struggles with it knows exactly what it is and how it feels.
Do you remember what it tasted like? Did you want to stop but felt like you had no control? Did you hide from people out of shame while eating it?
I answered a related question earlier and I responded with: I think knowing how you eat, and not just what you eat is important.
During binges, I won't even taste food for food. I'll eat stale bread, dig my fingers through crumbs amongst crumbs, for something more because a second without the "numbing feeling of a binge" is too much. I'll go out at 3 a.m. to binge, near tears but keep propelling because I feel like a puppet, with no control of my body.
And because of the beauty of anonymity, here are excerpts from old typed out journal entries:
If you get a twinge of emotion you can't handle, you know how to react. It's quite simple. Drive to the nearest fast food drive-thru. Speak slowly, as if you're recalling a list for four people. Ask for extra napkins. Smile. Be polite. Beg silently that the cashier will be a different person, because you were there yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that...
You want as many people as possible to think you're a health nut. Twenty dollars spent in a drive-thru? Oh, Miss Perfect would never do such a thing. Nobody would ever suspect that you would engage in such a crime. They're eluded that you're perfect, and that you have your life together. Surely, you don't have any overwhelming pain inside. Surely, you are a composed young lady, and are in complete control of your life. You don't want to destroy that image, but at the same time, you're crying out for help and somebody to love and notice how empty you are. But you're afraid that nobody will care. Everyone has fallen in love with the false image of you, and you have kept your true self hidden, suppressed. You're scared nobody wants to know the real you. Nobody knows who you really are because you're buried under a mountain of lies. Sometimes, even you don't know where you are anymore.
So block out all the flooding emotions, and pull your car in the parking lot. In the dark, under the tree, away from other cars. You have a dirty little secret. You feel out of control, but you also feel at home. Binging takes away the emotional pain, and the physical pain becomes strong enough to steal away a few minutes so you forget.
As I talk to you online about how happy I am, I am downing cereal bars one by one. I eat them slowly, trying to savor them, trying to enjoy food for food. The sweetness freezes the anxiety. For a moment, I'm okay. But another bar follows another, and soon, I am in a sea of wrappers. I know it's happening again, but I can't stop. The first domino has been knocked down.
I'm not done.
I gaze in the fridge. I'm empty. I'm cold. I'm hollow, I'm hungry. I'm hungry for love, affection, approval, acceptance, freedom. This hole inside need needs to be filled. Two slices of cheese, slices of pizza, and a handful of chips slide down my throat as I tiptoe back to my room. I can't let the roommates know.
I'm not done.
I hoover over the computer and start to order food online. I need something of more substance. Something that is warm and will make me full to the brim, numbing me. I need something that will cloud my waking thoughts. I want something that will take over my mind, and give me a moment to escape who I am. I want self-prescribed amnesia. I listen carefully. I am sitting by the window so I can hear the delivery person before he/he comes. That way, I can walk out the door before he knocks and secretly slip the food inside. The food is cold, and the chicken is drenched in too much sauce. But food is food, and any drug will do. I eat the food, forcing it inside myself, pushing back the cries of my body protesting. Pushing back the emotions. Pushing back everything inside of me, shutting up the emotions with more and more, and more. But I still feel empty.
And sigh, one more...
I don't know what hungry is, or it is supposed to be. But I know what it's not. It's not supposed to be running to Subway and getting a footlong sub, dressed with ranch only because it comes up easier than Italian dressing, shoveling it in your mouth, only to walk to Dairy Queen after to get a sandwich, fries, onion rings, and a blizzard. Two spoons please, one for me and the other for my imaginary friend. And then stuffing free doughnuts, three cookies, and chocolate in your bag from the refreshment stand of the bookstore (oops, didn't buy anything) because the hole of hunger is so deep that you know you'll want those, even though you never used to like cookies or things too sweet. I know hunger isn't supposed to be ripping the box open, tearing jagged lines into the soft cardboard, and breathing everything inside without a moment to think, or blink. I know hunger isn't supposed to be using 23 packets to ketchup (maybe 22.5 packets to account for the bit that slid down your coat while you responded to an emergency need of fries to your mouth). I know hunger isn't a game of "how much can you get in an hour," where you get as much as you can, racing the clock, with a prize for the winner, yet I'm playing like it is.
I know it just too well... I can describe what was happening to me in a binge - not sure how it was for other people.
I have developed a binge eating disorder after working with a registered nutritionist, who put me on a 1,600 calorie diet. It completely stopped only after I started taking herbs.
A binge is when you eat and cannot stop. You know you are full and you eat past full. Like way way way past full. You actually hurt yourself by eating. You feel that you are out of control. It is like you know in your head you should stop, but you just cannot - the urge to eat is stronger than you. You hate yourself just because you are out of control when it comes to your own body. Binge eating does not give you pleasure - in fact, you don't even taste the food, or you no longer want it, but you still continue to eat it.
I imagine it is very similar to self-mutilation (cutting), although I have never done that. But the feeling (this is my guess) is similar.
If you are eating healthy foods in what feels like what may be a large amount, but you stop when you are full and you aren't considering bulimia so you can stuff more in, then it's probably not a binge.
If you are stuffing your face to the point of being in literal pain and then keep on going, and you are probably hiding what and how much you are eating from those around you and it is like you are trying to fill a void in your soul with food, then that is definitely a binge.
I'm also speaking from experience. I find binges really scary. Feels like a total loss of control, almost like someone else has taken over your body and even though you know the consequences and that you should stop you can't.
What you ate definitely sounds like a good snack. Do you eat fairly low calorie during the rest of the week? Maybe your body is just wanting to get some more energy than you are giving it during the rest of the week.
Hm. I'd say look to three factors: (1) quantity of food relative to daily intake, (2) quality of food, and (3) motivation for eating.
I will occasionally end up eating all my calories for the day in one or two sittings. Is it an unhealthy binge? Nope, because I'm just eating when I'm hungry until I feel satiated and I'm eating paleo foods. No emotional component, just listening to my body and obeying.
Sounds like you just had a snack/meal. See what tomorrow brings.