3 Things You Need To Know About Binge Eating Disorder (From Someone Who Has It)

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3 Things You Need To Know About Living With A Binge Eating Disorder

It's hard to admit you suffer from Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

You get wide-eyed and people just think you're a "fatty." But the mental illness goes so much deeper than being hungry.

A Penn State football player, Joey Julius, recently revealed that he's back in treatment for his Binge Eating Disorder. 

In his Facebook post on May 5th, he wrote:

"Hello friends and family. I just wanted to let everyone know since I have been asked a bunch why I was not at blue white or why I am not at school. I have been struggling over the last couple months with my eating disorder. It got to the point where I had to return to St. Louis to seek further treatment at the McCallum place. Recovery is a wonderful and beautiful thing that I am working on returning too. For anyone out there that has similar struggles I hope you too can seek help in some way. Your feelings should be completely validated and I wish you all the best in your search for recovery. Just as an update I am doing well and the treatment is helping. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It is just a very long tunnel."

Joey isn't alone. Binge Eating Disorder is actually the most common eating disorder and affects 2.8 million people in the United States. (According to studies, there is often a link between impulsive personality disorders and "impulsive eating pathology" like binge eating.)

NationalEatingDisorders.Org describes BED as: 

Binge eating disorder is a severe, life-threatening and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating.


That's the technical definition, but there is a much, much more personal side to the disorder, a side that people like Joey Julius know all too well.

I'm speaking from experience here, because I suffer from a binge-eating disorder too.

When I was a wee little girl, I had feeding issues. I never wanted to eat and was severely underweight.

Because of that, my concerned parents would let me eat anything I wanted just to add calories, not nutrition.

Of course, I loved Happy Meals because not only did I get a tiny portion of what I thought was yummy food, but I got a toy, too.

I was no dummy!

But that cultivated a taste for fried food that, til this day, I can't keep under control.

Not only was my desire for unhealthy foods unreasonably high, but my abusive mother would use it as a way to manipulate me.

"If you do what I want, you can have [insert random food chain here]."

And what's even worse is that I equated all these bad foods with love, because that's how my mother trained me to see it.

Emotional abuse followed by a half-assed apology that included my favorite foods with, "See. I love you. Mommy bought you this food. I told you I love you."

RELATED: What It’s Like To Be A Woman Who Was Raised By An Abusive Mother

When I entered my late teen years and all my friends were driving, where would we go?

To the diner, of course!

That was the cool thing to do: Go to the Dirty Bird (a nickname for a local diner we frequented, which thinking back on I can't understand why we would eat a place we joked about being dirty).

And then I met my husband, and of course, there were a LOT of date nights which included fancy (and not so fancy) restaurants.

This may all seem like I'm making excuses for my weight, but I assure you that I'm not.

I have an eating disorder. It's not easy to type or say or admit to.

I often talk about my mental illnesses like depression and anxiety but, in my brain, an eating disorder is shameful and hard to discuss, even though I know so many people are going through similar experiences. 

So, before you judge someone for how they eat, here are 3 things you NEED to know about the reality of living with Binge Eating Disorder — as told from a person who knows what they're talking about.

1. I've been trained to eat my feelings.


This goes so much deeper than eating a Ben and Jerry's after a break-up.

This is eating an entire bucket of French fries with a dish of macaroni and cheese from KFC until my stomach is screaming in pain; until I'm 6 feet into regret; until I'm even further into a depressive episode.

While you're eating the food, it feels comfortable like a heated blanket on a snowy day.

"This will be the last time I do this," I say to myself as I eat because I know it's not healthy, but it feels so good ... until it doesn't.

2. I know I'm overweight and unhealthy so I really don't need your feedback.

You can tell me until you're blue in the face how terrible of a lifestyle this is, how I should get over myself and stop being selfish, and I will smile and nod ... then most likely go on to order some heavy duty to food to binge on.

A big part of binge-eating is guilt. 

You feel guilty while eating, you feel guilty after eating, and you even feel guilty before eating because you know deep down it just isn't right.

But you also get a sense of thrill, excitement, and anticipation.

I've never tried drugs, not even weed, so I can't tell you what addiction feels like from that perspective, but I can imagine that it's almost the same.

3. I don't want to be this way.

After a binge, a full on depression usually follows.

So it's not like eating is a trip to Disney for me.

It's a compulsion that is hard to resist.

Think about a smoker and how hard it is for them to stop the act that's killing them.

They know it's bad but they continue anyway; it's the same for other addictions including my binge-eating disorder.

So what exactly do I plan on doing? 

I've been to a surgeon and have a date for gastric sleeve surgery, which according to WebMD is:

A surgery to make the stomach smaller and help people lose weight. With a smaller stomach, you will feel full a lot quicker than you are used to. This means that you will need to make big lifelong changes in how you eat including smaller portion sizes and different foods in order to lose weight.

I see you eye-rolling me and telling me that's the easy way out and I have one thing to say: HELL TO THE NO!

Because I'm what they call a "volume-eater," cutting my stomach down to half its size is a pretty good way to decrease the amount of food in which I can take in.

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But it's not like I'll immediately lose 100 pounds and keep it off.

This surgery is a way for me to learn control, basically because I have no other choice once the surgery is complete.

I've tried every single diet you can throw at me, so go for it!

It's a mental disorder, much like the depression and anxiety I described before. 

It took a long time for me to accept that this was a part of my life, but now that I have I'm making plans on how to change it.

Surgery isn't the way to go for everyone. 

For a long time, I didn't think it was right for me, either.

But I'm just about to turn 35, and I'd like to see my son grow up.

And that means more to me than any bucket of fries you can offer.

If you’re struggling with binge eating and need help, the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) offers advice, information, and actionable steps to assist you in getting healthier. Please seek them out. 

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