A couple weeks ago, I caught a conversation on Twitter between Kelly and Sarah discussing the book Brain over Binge by Kathryn Hansen. Considering my own history of disordered eating, this seemed like a good book for me and I, luckily, had some money left on an Amazon gift card.
I’m only about 100 pages in so I don’t want to give a full report until I’m finished, but I can say that it’s been very thought provoking. Hansen’s main argument is that people don’t binge because they are trying to fill some emotional need or because there are undiagnosed issues from childhood. People binge because they have an urge to binge. In other words: conventional therapy suggests that binging is a symptom of some larger problem whereas this book suggests binging itself is the main issue.
As someone who spent years having binge eating episodes, I must admit that much of what she says makes sense. When I went vegetarian years ago, it didn’t automatically cease all episodes but it certainly reduced them. It really was a mind-over-matter situation in which I recognized that I had an inability to stop myself from eating an entire bucket of KFC in a single sitting all by myself. So, it stood to reason, if I stopped eating chicken then I’d stop going through that drive thru multiple times a week for a ten piece.
Does that sound like a crazy and overly simplistic way to address a binge eating habit? Yes.
Did it work? Yes.
At this point, I’ve been slowly reintroducing meat back into my diet although I’ve been eating small quantities of it over the past few weeks. At any point over the past month or so I could have easily gone to the KFC up the street (ooooh, or the Popeyes. They have those good seasoned fries) and gone all chicken crazy. But I haven’t nor do I have any desire to do so nor do I worry that urge will return.
Yesterday I had someone tell me that because I happen to be reading this book that means she doesn’t buy my statement that my relationship with food has changed for the better.
The thing is, people read books for lots of different reasons so just because I happen to be reading a book about binge eating doesn’t mean I’m still binge eating. That’s on par with blaming video games for school shootings. Do I have times when I overeat? Hello. Of course. I’m a fat girl and an emotional eater. My weight gain wasn’t spontaneously. So, yes, sometimes when I’m having a bad day I have an extra scoop of ice cream.
But over eating is not binge eating.
It is important to recognize that Binge Eating Disorder has very specific symptoms and parameters that need to be met before a person is diagnosed with BED and merely over eating every once in awhile does not qualify. If merely excess eating was enough then every woman in every Weight Watchers meeting across the country would be diagnosed with BED. And while I understand and anticipated that some people would be disappointed in my decision to go back to eating meat, it is important to acknowledge that I am the only one who knows what my relationship with food is like now compared to what it was then.
These days, a “bad day” for me is about 2500 calories total. That used to be a single meal years ago. A single meal had multiple times in the same week. So when I say that trusting myself enough to eat meat again is a sign of progress, I ask you to take me at my word.
Also, I’m going to be perfectly honest with you: I would rather be at a higher weight, enjoying life, completing half-marathons, having a healthy relationship with food, and, most importantly, loving everything about myself than be a smaller weight and still seeing food as the enemy.
That being said, while I greatly appreciate any and all concern related to my health, I’d like to take a moment to remind everyone, regardless of your eating habits, that it’s really not cool to get on a soapbox and judge a person who happens to consume different foods than you. C’mon, can’t we all just be friends?
Has anyone else read Brain Over Binge?
Love from the ashes,