It occurs to me that I am totally ignorant about binge-eating and how it actually manifests in the real world for someone so afflicted. I tend to go in the other direction and have too strict a hold on the reins, which leads me to things like my 8-year vegan misadventure that I assume damaged my health more than an 8-year binge would have. At least with binging you're ingesting a lot of nutrients with the crap presumably.
Anyway, I understand the temptation to eat more of something delicious once you start. These days, I have a lot of trouble storing several days' worth of raspberries for example because I'll be tempted to eat them all at once. The upside is that there aren't really any negative consequences in doing so (for a while at least). Actually, at my brother's rehearsal dinner recently there were huge plates of ice cream with chocolate syrup on it at every table for dinner and all the people sitting around me (who I'm guessing eat this stuff regularly) had a taste and then lost interest. Meanwhile, I went nuts and ate a huge amount. These sorts of things are quite novel to an ascetic like me.
What I don't know is how prolonged binges work though. If you have essentially unlimited ice cream in front of you, that's one thing, but does binge-shopping accompany binge-eating?
Any insight is appreciated.
Edit: Do you think it would be better or worse for someone now eating paleo with a binge-eating history to allow themselves unrestricted binges of certain types of food like meat? I can already hear the groans, but hunter-gatherers like the Hadza absolutely binge on as much meat (and honey for that matter) as they can whenever it's available. The way that animals are split up among the camp/neighboring camps ensures that there is nothing left over at all. It seems to me that there would be selection pressure toward greater binging ability and that the behavior is not necessarily pathological per se.
I describe my binge eating as a mental disorder driven by deranged metabolism. When in binge mode, I do things that I don't want to do and that I know are self-destructive. If you read this answer, you'll know I am not proud of my binge eating history!
I know I am in "binge fever" mode when I am driven to get in my truck and drive to the store to buy a bunch of junk food. In my case, that may include ice cream but is more likely to be 4-6 large bags of chips and a few boxes of crackers. Read that list again and then I can tell you I traditionally ate that food within 2 maybe 3 days. At that point, I was sick and absolutely determined never to do it again. I'd get up the next day, drive to the store and do it all again.
The first time my eating disorder struck, I ate until I literally could not swallow the last bite of food because there was no room to swallow it.
Four times in my life I gathered my willpower and lost 50 or more pounds by sheer force of desire not to be fat. The very first time I broke down and had ONE BITE of junk food, I began a new binge cycle that usually ended at about the weight at which I began my diet.
It was an amazing shock, therefore, when I suffered binge fever 4 months into primal and DID NOT wind up regaining all my lost weight. What happened for the first time is that the junk food didn't taste good and I got much more ill than I ever had before. It took 3 such lapses but I now seem cured for good because the mere thought of junk food causes me to remember how sick I got.
I've done both; over eating and under eating. Over eating is like a drug where you want a fix constantly. A Paleo diet has helped but if I have too many treats I get back on the sugar roller coaster and am constantly thinking about what dessert/meal/snack I should have next. Then I need to break the cycle with a week of eating well. Over or under eating has always had serious emotional components for me. Not having crap food in the house helps as does coming up with a routine where I think before I eat. Sounds simple but it isn't always. Under eating (holding the reins too tightly is a great description) is also like a drug. The drug of being able to control something. But you end up with the same problem, you are constantly thinking about not eating. Balance is the key.
My past binging was directly correlated to my undereating (perhaps anorexia?). I would deny myself eating a low fat diet and exercise (cardio) way too much. I would then "treat" myself to some ice cream or other sweet and lose it. I would eat the half gallon; half a jar or more of peanut butter; and if my mom had made me some brownies, the entire pan. For me, the bottom line was my body was starved for nutrients, and when I fed it a small amount, something got triggered that the "time had come" to feed.
I've been on an 80/20ish Paleo diet for about 2 years and no longer binge. In fact, I've been trying to gain a few pounds and have experimented some with the CF Zone concept of a "cheat" on Saturdays. Last night, the cheat would have been a pint of Haagen Daz chocolate ice cream after eating steak for dinner. I had two scoops with half a banana and got bored with it. I just didn't want it. I had even been out to my mom's and she insisted on sending home a half dozen brownies. I didn't touch them and actually threw them away today. My tastes have totally changed since going Paleo. Yes, I do consider myself 80/20 as I will have a light beer here and there; some ice cream if I do want a scoop or two; etc. This 20% is now enough to keep me satisfied so that binging is not an issue.
I struggle with a binge disorder, and like others have said, it's best described as an addiction. Certain foods, especially certain carbs trigger the reward centers in the brain, similar to a drug. And in a sense, it can be harder to kick than an addiction, because you cannot just give up food. You can't say you're going to abstain from it for the rest of your life, unless you plan on not leading a very long one. The closest thing you can do is educate yourself on healthier ways to feed your body, and ease into it. Decide you're going to avoid specific foods that you know you will binge on, and go from there. It is extremely hard, and you will feel a craving for them, but this goes away over time. Then, if you want, you can introduce those foods into your body in small amounts again.
Right now, as I'm typing this, my fingers are covered in chip residue. =P I am definitely in the midst of a binge-session and don't intend to stop...until tomorrow, because it's a "new day". It's ridiculous how WEAK my mind is!!! I can't just have ONE treat....if I go in that direction, I have to go all the way! An example of something harmless are grapes. I love summer because it's organic grape season, but if I buy a pound of it, I can finish eating that in one session, and if I buy a 4 lb container from Costco, it could be gone in two days! Now, I'm sure one or two portion of grapes are harmless, but then I have to go eat the rest of it too! And, after the grapes, I'm left prowling for more junk food. I've heard that cravings last approximately 10-20 minutes, but mine lasts until I get my hands on exactly what I want. I attribute part of my problem with perfectionism and consistency. There was a 2 month period when I was quite proud of myself for eating Paleo most of the time, and so when I allowed myself to indulge (usually at some sort of social gathering), I was completely fine. I fell off my track record and am having trouble getting back on for the long haul. I would start the day perfectly, and have a good lunch or dinner, but even a little suggestion can set me back! I feel like I'm not taking my health seriously enough. I think it might depend on the triggers of the person who binge eats. I find that unless I build a good track record, even ONE little thing can cause a landslide. I'm better off going 100% for a week at least, and then slowly training myself that a little indulgence might be okay. Ideally, I would like to only allow myself these indulgences when I am socially obligated to. I had these binge eating problems too before going Paleo, but they just seem to be more magnified nowadays. >_<
i just finished dinner; a chicken breast with 2 cups of boston lettuce, 1/4 cup of cucumber, 1/8 cup red onion and 2 tbl full fat goat cheese.
and i want chocolate. i have to find something to do to distract me for an hour or two, else i will give in to the almonds and organic chocolate chips in my kitchen cupboard.
before i gave up grains, one of my favourite binge foods was cereal. i could eat 3 or 4 bowls of Kashi GO Lean with 1% milk and be stuffed, but still have just one more small bowl. after all, it was good for me; no?
junk food does not a binge make.
I think in terms of quantity, I'm more of a micro-binger, but the compulsion is the same. Any binge I've ever had came after a few beer - specifically beer, as wine and liquor don't seem to bring on the hardcore cravings. If I'm travelling for work (ie. alone in a city with no one watching...) and have drank a few beer in the evening, I will almost always stop by a corner store on the way back to the hotel and buy a bunch of junk food - chips and chocolate bars. I'll eat it all, fall asleep with the TV on, and wake up feeling like shite. On any given paleo day (no beer), I have ZERO craving for starchy carbs and peanut butter cups. Couple of pints and the wheels come off.
binging for me is part of my self injurious habits......:(! its part of not knowing how to more kindly take care of myself, allow myself to rest when tired, enjoy life without question or guilt, as well as a distraction from things that are perhaps necessary for my own personal development but so far out of my comfort range. i have been depressed and binged for so long it is unfortunate that it is a more familiar state of mind and mood.............but basically it starts with a little more food than i want to eat and then some weird frantic, well if i eat a little more then i dont have to eat dinner and i wont eat till tomorrow munchmunchmunch know its gross and too much and not even tastey the whole time and i ask myself...why would you do this when you could really do anything else in teh world you wanted right now, why would you choose this? and then the feeling of shame and guilt and then resigned and then the promise that i will neverevereverever do that again..........and perhaps it works again for a few days, maybe even a week, maybe i binge tomorrow too and then regain my balance. my digestion is frail as is my health from 15 years(i am 28) of doing this somewhat consciously...i am sure that over eating and eating the wrong food for ones composition is perhaps the most unhealthful thing a person can do, it leads to all types of inflammatory diseases, insulin, glandular and endocrine imbalances, hormone issues and all manners of other disorders. i am not sure which precludes which tho, if its necessarily psychosomatic, gains its footing due to nutritional deficiencies..chemical deficiencies in the brain, food allergies, whether its learned, produced by cultural pressures..etcetc...
I was a binge eater for many years. I managed to do it secretly and didn't gain much weight (couple pounds here and there) till the beginning of menopause when it started to pile on. Part of my binging was the ritual of shopping for what I was going to binge on. I would carefully read labels and determine which of the junk foods was the least harmful and then buy it and a few other "bad side dishes" to go with it. I might buy myself a carton of lowfat (ugh) ice cream and a big bag of chips (I really enjoyed going back and forth between salty and sweet tastes), then couple doughnuts. I ate in secret, in my car. This would mostly happen during times i was stressed and tired but towards the end happened even when everything was fine. I can remember the first time I binged but not the last... I am pretty strictly paleo now for 8 months. I don't feel like I can go off it and not binge. I am close to binging all the time (i am an addict) but don't do it because of the structure paleo offers me. I lost 20 lbs and don't have the awful guilt around binging. I am lighter.
I think my binge-eating is related to my compulsiveness. When I do something, I want to do it 100%. So when I actually lapse and take just a bite of junk, I 1) get the mindset that I've already failed, so why not go on eating junk? 2) am afraid I'll never get the chance to eat this again, what with my self-restricting habits, so I stuff myself with as much as I can. Kind of like going on a bender before starting over on a "clean slate". Even if I'm not enjoying it, I just keep eating and eating till I can't take it anymore.
On previous diets (eg just brown rice & steamed broccoli) I tried, I would fall for temptation because I was starving or my taste buds were unsatisfied. The good thing is, paleo provides amazing satiety which is great for preventing that first slip-up!
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