food addiction: the struggle is REAL

chocolate chips. fritos. bread. peanut butter. jelly. almonds.

more chocolate chips.
more fritos.
more bread.
more peanut butter.
more jelly.
more almonds.

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.

eating disorder.

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 strugglingbadly.

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.

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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!

 

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xox, amanda

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30 thoughts on “food addiction: the struggle is REAL

  1. Danielle says:

    Thanks so much for sending me this article on binge eating…very informative!!!also, thanks for answering my question!!! Your so beautiful and I admire your story! I always look forward to your posts on fb everyday!!! 🙂

  2. emma says:

    Amanda, when I found your FB page last Christmas I felt so blessed to find someone who is a long term weightloss journey just like me! Everyday I feel low or unmotivated, I read your blog/twitter/Instagram and suddenly something happens and it’s like you whip me back into shape! I am so grateful to you for sharing your journey….you are MY inspiration! Emma xxx http://www.butterflybucketlist.wordpress.com xxx

  3. sasarasa says:

    Preach, sista.

    I’ve been following your journey for a while now, and with my own demons, I personally know how you feel.

    You are an inspiration to many, and your courage is so motivating and beautiful.
    You are truly an amazing soul, and I hope you know just how many people you’ve touched and helped out.

    Thank you for writing, and never give up. Ever.

    You are so right–an eating disorder does not define you.
    Sure, it’s a part of you–it will always be a part of you–but it’s not fully, completely YOU.

    Just like your weight doesn’t define you. The measurement of your waist doesn’t define you. Your hips. Your age.

    Numbers don’t define you.

    (I have to remind myself this, every single day. Because trust me, there are SO many times that I think this awful way.)

    Also please remember, you are not alone.

    You’re never alone.

    We can do this. And we are doing this! One day at a time.

    Much love.

  4. Christie says:

    Your blog is so true. I deal with this everyday. I loose 20 lbs and then end up gaining back 10 of it cause I fall back into my old habits. I just have to be strong and know that I am stronger then the illness. I am so very happy for you Amanda. You are a beautiful young lady

  5. Alice says:

    If I can be where you are now I’ll be proud that I’ve achieved something great. I’m battling this every day and can’t yet move forward. God bless x

  6. Amber h says:

    Thank you so much for sharing all your ups and downs !!!! It helps so much for me as well as others

  7. beloved89 says:

    Your bravery is commendable. Sharing the part that we feel makes us weak, in fact just makes us stronger than it- because we know that it’s not who we are. It doesn’t define us. Thank you for this post. In 2011 I wrote http://belovedinspiration.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/facing-the-fact/ to share my ED. Sharing helps us grow more victorious, however it will as you said be something we forever struggle with. You are such an inspiration and a beautiful young lady. I love following you and have been inspired by you often to keep going.

  8. Hi Amanda! Thank you for sharing your story. I definitely struggle with food issues too. I eat until I feel like I’m going to explode, I snack when I’m not hungry, and I can’t stop eating cheezits until the box is empty. It’s like I am petrified of being hungry!! Your tips are excellent. Thank you for the encouragement and inspiration!
    XO,
    Rachel

  9. Jennifer R. says:

    Thank you for writing this. I struggle with the same isse and have since I was a child. Its a constant battle. Some days/weeks/months are easier than others. The past few months have been a real low point for me, so seeing this today was something I needed. Thank you for the time that you donate to provide hope and motivation to others. Great story.

  10. Thanks for sharing. I could have written this myself. Be kind to yourself- you’ve done brilliant. Xx

  11. Aim says:

    Good for you! I have a very similar story. Same DX, but it does get easier, better.
    I think people hold the false belief that you lose the weight, get the self esteem, and done. No, it’s so intertwined. But you are doing the real work. The inner work. I have been there. It’s so hard, but the rewards are endless! Now I am a therapist helping others. Keep going strong. Embrace it all girl!
    Email me anytime! You.Are.Amazing.
    PS have you read When Food Is Love by Geneen Roth? It’s life changing. She has the same dx and has written her life story on it.All her books are mind blowing. Take care~

  12. thank you thank you thank you soooooo much

  13. Roxy says:

    I am at the beginning. I am weighing in at 270 and have been struggling for months to get started on losing weight. My sister recommended your site and I never thought it was a major disorder. My thoughts are just like yours “are they watching me…. Food food food I want more food” I have come to realize I need help and don’t know where to go or what to do. I am going to eat my self to death. But reading your story has given me a place to start. With my primary doctor. Thank you!!! I hope to lose this weight cause it’s effect my health badly. I just feel I have given up on my self at times. I hope a doctor can help me.

  14. SK says:

    I have a binge eating disorder as well. In 2008 I got down to my smallest size ever and felt so healthy. I was eating real foods, exercising regularly, and so happy.

    Then my life threw me a curve ball. I was laid off, had a serious of awful jobs, and got a puppy. I gained all the weight back in a few years.

    Getting back on my feet still is one of the hardest things. Every week it’s a struggle with starting clean eating and leaving binge eating behind. But I fail. Every few weeks. And I’m still 50lbs overweight.

    I have no idea how to convince my mind that food is not going to make me feel better or fix my problems. I have no idea how to feel satisfied from a salad instead of a pizza.

    I turn 30 in a little over a year and I refuse to do it obese.

    Your blog is inspiring. Thank you for bringing up this issue. Eating disorders are more than just anorexia or bulimia.

    I hope I can start to make headway with my eating disorder as you have.

  15. Sarah:) says:

    A great read! Thank you so much, i needed to read this 🙂

  16. Arron Parker says:

    Thank you so vary much for sharing this part of yourself. You continue to inspire and motivate with you dedication and openness.

  17. I too have a binge eating disorder and it took me forever to discover this and admit it. You are way ahead of me and that is awesome for you. Once you realize it and find your own tools to cope with it you can have balance in your life. I think that is the key to success in anything you do in life – “Balance.” No more highs and lows. It you want to get high then go workout. Thank you so much for sharing. You are an inspiration and a breath of fresh air. Keep using those tools and coping skills. I have found the 12 step program and going to AA meetings has help me tremendously with my food addiction. That is my therapist right now.

  18. Jennifer says:

    Hey Amanda,
    First of all, I am so proud of you to publish this about yourself, that is the first step of any addiction, admitting you have an addiction. Second, I know how you feel especially with peanut butter, I have consumed a whole jar in one sitting before. I call it one of my fat foods. I might have a binge eating disorder like you, I am going to go online & research it more, if you have any sites that would help me that would be great! Third & final, my boyfriend & I are going to try & give something up for new year’s resolution, his is going to be smoking, & mine hopefully peanut butter!

  19. Maria says:

    Thank you for sharing Amanda.

  20. Kelsey says:

    Hi Amanda! Thanks for sharing your story. I also suffer from binge eating disorder and started therapy this past February. It was shocking to hear the word “disorder” but I was so thankful my struggle with food finally had a label and was truly more than just a problem with overeating. It is such a real and powerful struggle and doesn’t get talked about very much so thank you for sharing your story! If you ever want to talk more I would love to chat about it sometime. It is often hard for me to talk about food issues with those who couldn’t possibly understand what it is truly like. Thanks again for sharing!

  21. Candice Jenkins says:

    Hello. Could you please send me an email of the kinds of foods you eat and avoid? Your binge eating article describes me to a t. I need help please!

  22. Omg I’m so lucky to of found you. I’m having the same problems. And recently it has taken over my life to where I have become a closet eater. I’m going to a professional that might be able to help me figure out why I eat the way I eat.

  23. Meaghan says:

    I hope that I will have the courage to call my doctor and do what you did. I just want this to stop. I want to be healthy and have a healthy relationship with food. Thank you for baring your soul and your struggle.

  24. Sarah Cooper says:

    I related so much to this post. Thank you Amanda for putting a “normal” face to this disease that many women struggle with daily. Your positivity towards life is an inspiration that others need to hear.

  25. Brittany Arnold says:

    I love ur blog and facebook! Food is an addiction and with any addiction it’s in ur head..If u have the will power to lose weight then ull lose weight 🙂 I have lost over 80lbs and I have more to go…ur so inspiring and thank u for all the helpful tools!

  26. lkaye1214 says:

    Hey! I confided in my best friend of 14 years that I really wanted to start eating better and feel better. I have stated this many times before, but this time is different. I’m about to graduate from nursing school, and I am the biggest I have ever been. I just recently got married and he loves everything about me. He is always telling me how beautiful I am and that I should feel perfect because in his eyes I am. And I love how supportive he is, but I have to feel that I am perfect as well. So he has agreed to help me as well as my best friend. I have gained at least 20 pounds since I’ve been in nursing school (2 years) 30 pounds if you count the 2 years of basics before. My friend referred me to your Facebook, Instagram, and this blog to help me and motivate me. I realized there was a problem when I really started to think about it. I got married 2 months ago but I feel so much bigger now- probably just all the excitement about fulfilling God’s plan for our lives and being husband and wife 🙂 We’ve been together for almost 6 years in all. But now I feel bigger. My stomach is always bloated it feels like (I hardly ever drink water- I LOVE COKE.) and I always eat til I just can’t breathe. Then I feel terrible. I wake up and I think about what I’m going to eat for each meal of the day! I also had a “craving food” for each semester. I am a true stress eater! First semester- chocolate, 2nd semester- edy’s cookies and cream ice cream (picked it up on the same day of every week after a specific clinical), 3rd semester- birthday cake, and this semester has been better- pineapple. I realized there was a problem when I thought about ALL of these things. I’m so thankful my husband loves me so much, but I want to love myself also. I want to look in the mirror and be happy! Don’t get me wrong I’m not extremely over weight, but if this cycle continues I will be. I am right now 165 pounds, and I am not happy with it. My Husband’s family is calorie counting, but I just can’t do that- they look so miserable and starving. I have done better about eating just til I am full, but I will eat barely any food and lots of dessert. I’m hoping reading all your resources and seeing your progress will continue to motivate me. God, my husband, my best friend, and you are who I’m looking to for encouragement! I just really needed to get all of that out. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  27. fatmummaslim says:

    Reading this post with tears streaming down my face… it is all so close to home!

    I came across your Facebook page (and subsequently your blog) quite by chance… quite by chance, and at just the right time. You popped up on my news feed just as I was starting to realise a few home truths regarding my relationship with food.

    This afternoon as I sat shovelling junk into my face, I wept at the futility of it all. “How can an addict beat their addiction, when their addiction is food?” Your blog has inspired me to seek professional help. I don’t know how I will overcome these demons, but I know that I owe myself to give it my best.

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