When a binge turned into a blessing

When you’re reading this I’ll have gone back and forth between whether or not to post this for a while. My final decision to publish it came when I remembered how it have been just these kind of honest posts by other bloggers like Heather or Sarah helped me in terms of recovery. They made me feel understood, less alone in my struggles, realize it’s okay and not feel ashamed because I ‘slip up’ at times. That being said …

It’s time to talk about Christmas once more. Only not in the way I did before. While not lying when talking about Christmas before I focused on the marvelous parts of it leaving out the not-so-awesome happenings.  Because that’s life. We all know that life has its ups and downs but it’s up to each of us to make the good parts those we remember at the end of the day. Hence why I chose to highlight my favourite parts of Christmas, the ones I should remember when thinking about it later again  – the blessing and joy of spending time with my family – instead of grieving over the bumps in the road. The reason I’m bringing up one of the less stellar moments now is the lesson I learned from them which in itself holds a lot of positivity.

Fast forward to Christmas Day – the day of the amazing walk on the beach – we had the traditional cold dinner buffet at my grandma’s house. I truly love my grandma but these kind of dinners honestly don’t rank on my list of favourites. While I assume I enjoyed them a lot more years ago when I was still eating meat action they aren’t a taste experience these days. Beautifully arranged plates of vegetables, cheese, yogurt-based dressings and bread basically sum up the vegetarian fare. Probably not the most unsatisfying meal if you eat all of those. However – and yes, call me picky for this one – I know I’m someone who needs warm meals and when lunch is replaced by cake and cookies a dinner like this really doesn’t cut it for me. I’ve tried it numerous times before – only to notice it doesn’t. Adding to this ‘problem’ is trying to stick to vegan dishes when my fully vegan cousin’s around. Explaining the whole background here so I’ll just keep it to saying I added the additional pressure.

Remember me mentioning this not being a taste experience? This – among other occasions – was what I factored in when making my resolution to ‘Just live’. Breaking the day down it was actually about bonding with the family. The main memory and major happiness for me that day was feeling [and, yes, even exclaiming it aloud] joyful and blessed. For once not worrying about my future but living in the moment. And that’s what mattered.

Source

Despite what happened after dinner: I binged. Binged on the chocolate ice cream I’d restricted myself from because my cousin had been around and I kept telling myself I’d eaten enough treats before already. While I’d have rather done without the scenario above it helped me learn more about myself again. Going overboard on ice cream was a sign. Just when I started typing this post I remembered a passage from Intuitive Eating which I’ve been rereading during the past weeks. Though then referring to the use of food in a way to deal with emotions I feel it fits in this context, too. The authors call those sudden ‘slip-ups’  after eating normally for a while  “a strange gift”.

“Overating is a sign that  stressors in your life at that moment surpass the coping mechanisms that  you have developed. […] So, you revert back to eating as a familiar way to take care of yourself. […] When you find this happening, it may be a signal for you to reevaluate your life and find ways to put more balance into it.”

Interpreting it in the context of my experiences I assumed I’d eaten enough throughout the day only to see I hadn’t. So maybe, yes, it was a blessing my intuition came through taking care of the ‘issue’. We can’t learn if we don’t struggle. If I’d gone for a bowl of ice cream in the first place when the rest of the family was having it I’d likely have kept it to an ‘normal’ serving size instead of going overboard. And I’m not going to lie. There are still days  when I continue to ‘slip up’. In fact, I did again after the ice cream incident. That time, though, I already felt calm. let go and ate more knowing it was a sign I needed it.

It really is. Nobody said recovery was easy but I feel [and hope] that every of my struggles will serve as a learning experience and ultimately help me proceed on my way to recovery. Every step forward counts.

Happiness inducing today: My mum reassuring me on a work-related issue.

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32 thoughts on “When a binge turned into a blessing

  1. Laura says:

    I think it’s wonderful that you posted this. It takes courage and, in most cases, feels good to just get it off your chest.

    I’m a fairly firm believer in most things addressed on http://www.youreatopia.com especially one specific post that is written about binging not being binging, but being “reactive eating” because we have denied ourselves food for so long. Let me see if I can find it. Sometimes just looking at things from a different point of view (which it seems to me you have already done!) helps a lot.

    http://www.youreatopia.com/blog/2012/10/31/bingeing-is-not-bingeing.html

    Oh, and on Christmas Eve I had two large pieces of cake. Last year I had a thin slice and took all the frosting off. This year I requested seconds.

    • Miss Polkadot says:

      Yes to having your cake and eating [two slices of] it, too! I’m proud of you, Laura! Keeping my fingers crossed that next Christmas I’ll be having two bowls of ice cream – if I feel like it.
      Thanks for the Eatopia link! I’ve actually been reading some of the forums for a while [before the break and following relaunch] but hadn’t read that particular blog post yet. Just like the IE book it’s reaffirming to know all of this is normal in recovery.
      I promise I’ll finally reply to your mail soon, too!

  2. lucie@fitswisschick says:

    I figured for me that any kind of restriction always lead to a binge in the end. But that’s very individual I guess.
    Anyway, good job my Dear, way to go! I love your attitude and posting this isn’t easy, I know it!

    • Miss Polkadot says:

      It’s true. Whenever I restrict in whichever way it’ll backfire at some point. While it can feel uncontrolled at times intuition truly is a blessing in disguise.
      Thanks for your kind words, Lucie. I can’t wait to finally meet you!

  3. Flake And Cake says:

    Posts like this are so brave. They also have a huge impact on your readers. I haven’t had an ED but definitely struggle with bingeing at times – and it is the times you talk about, when I’ve restricted myself as a show of strength to others, when I’m stressed, when I feel lost. Being able to write about it and read posts like this is a huge help so thank you.

  4. GiGi Eats Celebrities says:

    What’s wonderful is that you notice first hand what you’re doing! All too often those who binge don’t even know what’s going on and cannot correct themselves. You are taking the bull by the horns and telling yourself that if this happens, it’s okay and you can work on it. You learn through your experiences. Trust me, I know how this goes. I too have had some eating issues in the past, however, since I am so realistic, I was able to slap myself out of it! 🙂

  5. Ashley says:

    I’m so proud of you for posting this! Bingeing and even restricting to a certain extent are usually kind of hidden in the blog world, but it’s so reassuring when someone opens up about it because it’s a lot more common than we’d probably believe. It’s even better that you’ve taken something positive out of an uncomfortable experience like a binge and I think it’s very inspiring to anyone who’s struggled with disordered eating–to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

    • Miss Polkadot says:

      Thank you, Ashley! There definitely is light at the end of the tunnel. If you’d told me sometime ago I’d have doubted the truth of it. But now: yes, it takes some time to get there, I haven’t yet reached it myself but it has become a lot more feasible. I feel that if we’ll get there one day.

  6. Chrystal M. says:

    I’ve been dealing with binge eating disorder since I was (around the age) 9. It’s a result of being sexually abused for 12 years and never learning how to process what was happening to me at such a young age. I’ve battled my addiction to food, it being my only friend but also a means to survive for many years. I’ve been through professional treatment only to find out that the best treatment often is just being kind to yourself. These days it is very clear to me that I binge when I am stressed, angry, or having a feeling of loneliness. Right now I am just trying to live the best life I can live without trying to get too caught up in it anymore. Living a life full of depression is not where anyone wants to be.

    Binging happens and I applaud you for taking the necessary steps and actions to recognize the cause and how to battle those causes. The book has been a big help for me as well. I read passages in short spurts to really try and absorb it. I’ll put it away for a little while and then go back to it.

    I also applaud you for speaking up. Many people just do not understand eating disorders and there is so much more out there than bulimia and anorexia.

  7. Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen says:

    Yes! I, too, have had ‘setbacks’ (even since the original post you mentioned) but have learned from them and believe they ARE signs of not eating enough and reminders that you have established new coping mechanisms but sometimes the safety and comfort of your old ways will come back. And it is OK. It is not something I think we will ever truly overcome. Disordered eating and restriction is a bit like addiction in that way. (Call me crazy if you want.) I have had two weeks of nonstop indulgence, and even though I’ve maintained an exercise schedule, I still find myself saying, “I need to get back on track,” but then wondering what does that even mean anymore? Surely not returning to a pattern of restriction, right? As tempting as it might be. I’m rambling, but I appreciate your willingness to be honest and open and accepting of yourself!

  8. Ms.J says:

    The mindset you have in looking at this <3..wow! I've never looked at it this way..yet it makes so much sense and just reading this I felt a calm understanding settle in me. Well written 🙂

  9. Heather | Kiss My Broccoli says:

    You my friend, are absolutely amazing! Like I said in my email, I’m so SO proud of you for writing this. I think the best way to sort through times like these is to write them out…that way you have something to look back on…to help you to analyze your feelings in this moment so you are more apt to prevent these instances from happening again. Not that it’s wrong if they DO happen again…because with each setback, you are gaining the perspective that will help you take those steps forward! And then one day all those steps forward run together…you start to notice of normalcy (or intuitiveness) taking over and for a second, you forget how hard the journey was in the beginning! This particular scenario is all too familiar to me. I’m not sure if you remember, but LAST Christmas for me went pretty much the exact same way…only the chocolate ice cream was replaced with crappy powdered sugar donuts. I was ill for DAYS! I’m with you on the cold buffet type meals (ESPECIALLY when you haven’t had a fitting lunch)…they are never satisfying!

    • Miss Polkadot says:

      Thank you so much, Heather ❤ ! As I mentioned it were your posts on struggles, too, that helped me make the final decision to publish this. Right now I'm glad I did because as you said writing these happenings down is a great way to sort out my mind and gain perspective. I had a similar experience about a week after the first incident again and felt a lot more relaxed about it.
      Remember you keeping your fingers crossed for my grandma to take notes of the vegan awesomeness at my sister's wedding buffet? Proof it sadly didn't happen. Nevertheless, I still love her! Food won't change that.

  10. Alex (@alex_kenz) says:

    I think your bravery in sharing this is really inspiring! Recovery is a process and slip ups happen. I think what matters is finding a way to be gentle with yourself and remember that we’re only human and we won’t always be 100% perfect in our eating or anything else. Stay strong and remember that slips don’t define you or your recovery! Lots of love your way!

    • Miss Polkadot says:

      “Remember that slips don’t define you or your recovery” <- I really needed that reminder. While I advise anybody else to be forgiving with themselves in any part of life I know I can be hard on myself at times. Thank you, Alex!

  11. Emily says:

    Opening up about struggles that you’ve had is the biggest and bravest step you can take in terms of recovery. A binge doesn’t mean that you’ve failed and managing to maintain a “perfect diet” doesn’t mean that you’ve succeeded…those things don’t determine happiness.
    It’s this growth, this awareness, and this ability to see what causes you to restrict or binge that proves you ARE healing. I’m so proud of you and, if you ever need to vent, I’m always here. xoxo

  12. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets says:

    What a brave and well written post my friend. The really great part about this experience was you recognizing it for what it was. Once you start to see that and become aware of it, then can you start to change it. So many people live in denial, and while I myself enjoy a visit every so often, it’s really not a great place to stay. Good for you! Great progess!

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