chocolate chips. fritos. bread. peanut butter. jelly. almonds.
more chocolate chips.
more peanut butter.
all consumed within 5-10 minutes. by me. [and only me.]
“is anyone going to be home soon? is anyone going to catch me eating all of this?”
these thoughts are running through my mind as i shove the food into my mouth… followed by:
“where can i hide the wrappers? will anyone notice that this food is missing? it tastes so good.”
when i’m done i feel happy, sad, full, content, embarrassed, ugly, fat… all at the same time.
what you are reading right now, is extremely difficult for me to write. it’s a secret that i’ve kept to myself for months. years. decades. i am going to take what was once an embarrassing and shameful topic and turn it into a life-changing account of my history with an eating disorder.
yes, i said it. those two dreadful words.
what i struggle with is called binge eating disorder… as well as food addiction.
i know what you’re probably thinking: food addiction?! what?! just stop when you get full!
if only it were that easy.
as far back as i can remember, food has always been an issue with me.
i wake up thinking about breakfast. while i’m eating breakfast i am busy planning my lunch. during lunch i am thinking about what’s for dinner. while i’m eating dinner i wonder if there is enough for me to have seconds.
whatever my plans may be for any particular day, my mind goes to food.
“will there be food where i am? are there any great restaurants in that area? any special bakeries where i can get a cookie? does the person i’ll be with enjoy food as much as i do? should i stop at the grocery store for a snack before i go?”
if i am out at a gathering with friends where food is readily available, i panic.
“oh, look at that big bowl of chips and guacamole! will they notice if i have a bite? how about another bite? and another? people are staring at me… they’re counting how many i eat. they’re judging me. but i can’t stop. the food is taunting me!”
at the same gathering with friends, i could be in a different room with no food, having friendly conversation, but my mind is STILL thinking about the table full of goodies.
FOOD WAS ALWAYS ON MY MIND. constantly.
it was a vicious cycle that didn’t stop until recently.
well, let me clarify, it didn’t “stop” – these thoughts still haunt me, but i have learned to control them (for the most part.)
in 2011-2012, my eating problems were out of control. although i was losing a significant amount of weight at this time, the food obsession was still apart of me. i knew i wouldn’t be fully happy if i didn’t get this problem under control.
but let me tell you – this was no easy task. i didn’t WANT help! i was embarrassed and genuinely scared.
scared. yes, i was terrified. i didn’t want to admit that i had any kind of problem. i didn’t want my family to worry about me. i just didn’t want it to be an issue!
so i put it off.
but when these issues began putting a toll on my friendships, i knew i needed to seek professional help.
the first thing i did was make an appointment with my primary care doctor. i went in for a routine physical. we went over all of the normal tests, but it wasn’t until he commented on my weight loss that i told him my REAL reason for being there.
i remember this appointment as if it were yesterday. i was SO nervous as i was talking to my doctor! i even got a rash on my chest while this was all happening!
i explained to him that yes, the number on the scale was lower, but i was still struggling… badly.
luckily, i have a wonderful doctor so i didn’t have to say very much. he knew exactly what i needed.
(at this time, i felt like a million pounds had been lifted from my shoulders!)
he referred me to a therapist who specializes in food issues & nutrition.
(now remember: i knew i needed help, but i had NO idea that what i had was an actual DISORDER.)
a few days later, i had my first appointment with my therapist.
i remember feeling nervous yet SO hopeful, excited and PROUD!
nervous that i was about to bear my soul to a stranger. hopeful for my future. excited to get my problems taken care of. proud to face the demons that had haunted me for so many years.
it wasn’t until after a few of our “sessions” that she made a diagnosis.
binge eating disorder.
me?! amanda leigh tyson. eating disorder?!
the first time i heard those words, my jaw dropped. my heart fell to the pit of my stomach.
(even though i had been waiting to hear those words & i knew she was right.)
it hit me pretty hard, but after the initial shock, i was totally okay.
i was still me. i was still the same girl i had been the day before.
with this new diagnosis, we were able to work together to try and make it better.
(notice i didn’t say “fix it” – my ED will always be part of me)
even with therapy, i’m not cured. i never will be.
and that’s okay.
sure, every single day is hard. living with an eating disorder is not easy!
but i’m working on it.
every day i try to make cautious/healthy decisions with food. i still slip up. at least once a week.
i still need MORE help.
i’m no where near perfect.
but i am ME. and this is part of who I WAS and who I AM.
the main reason i am writing this post is to spread awareness about binge eating disorder and food addiction. YOU might be struggling with the exact same symptoms i had! but you might not have known there was a real issue. maybe you knew it was a problem, but didn’t know it was a disorder.
binge eating disorder and food addiction are both REAL and they are extremely difficult to deal with on your own.
if YOU are struggling and think you might have a problem, PLEASE do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help! i know first hand how hard it is… but in the end, it is worth it because there is NOTHING more valuable than your LIFE.
the greatest thing i took away from therapy is that I AM IN CONTROL of my body and my choices. i am STRONG.
and i am a fighter.
and i am going to keep fighting.
binge eating disorder does not define me.
NOW! i want to take the time to answer a few of the questions that were asked on my facebook page:
question: how do you lose weight/maintain weight while you’re struggling with a food addiction?
answer: i take it one meal at a time. if i slip up during lunch, i make sure i stick with a healthy dinner. i follow the 90/10 rule: eat clean 90% of the time, and 10% of the time i eat the foods i’m craving. so, if i eat 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, that equals 21 meals in a week. 90% of 21 is 19 – so 19 of my meals will be CLEAN and 2 meals can be foods i’m craving!
question: what is the easiest way for you to stop stress eating?
answer: personally, when i am stressed, i’ll go to the gym to work out my frustration! the best part? after a great workout, i crave only healthy food! so it’s a win-win!
question: do you eat a certain way (paleo, no carbs, low cal) or do you just watch portions?
answer: i don’t follow any special diet plan! my therapist told me i should be eating meals with 1 serving of protein, 1 carb, 1 fruit/veggie and 1 healthy fat. i try to follow this plan with all of my meals.
question: what is your advice for those who are faced with food temptation in the workplace?
answer: i deal with this EVERY day! the easiest thing to do is to bring your own food! i always bring a little more than i need, just incase i’m feeling extra hungry. i’ll bring extra fruit for when the cravings hit. ALSO – i chew gum!! it helps me so much.
question: have you noticed changes once you started drinking so much water?
answer: ABSOLUTELY! my skin has cleared up, my stomach doesn’t feel as bloated, and i’m happier – my water intake has helped me tremendously!
question: what do you suggest i do to stop snacking at night?
answer: i tell myself that the kitchen is closed after dinner! i make sure my dinner fills me up so i won’t need to think about eating anything else. also, for me, it helps to go to bed early. but if you absolutely NEED a snack after dinner, there are plenty of healthy options – fruit is always okay! i love frozen grapes!