This is a hard blog to post, it's one I posted about 5 years ago and based on my naked blog last week it seemed the right thing to re-post. It's hard as when I re-read it and edit a little, it reminds me of where I was (sad feelings) and where I am now (happy feelings!!) and it is scary to put it out there!
When you look at me, you'll likely see a good looking (in my opinion!!), trim and toned, 45 year old woman who is pretty damn happy and confident with herself and life in general. That happiness didn't just happen, it took a lot of soul searching and self analysis and change to my underlying beliefs.
Regarding my physique, I am blessed with good genes (thanks mum and dad) - but I have worked at my body; it's not 'luck'. I consistently train, watch what I eat on the whole and still have those days when I look in a mirror and go 'ugh'... Those days are less and less now, my training is not so long and intense, and my eating way more in 'control' than it's been for a long time.
And that's what this blog is about - when I was pretty stressed with life and who I was and what I was doing, my eating escalated out of control, mainly sugary foods. It was a means to runaway from myself and not face what was going in my head, which luckily I did in 2015.
I wanted to share this again because I think it's important for us to see beyond what our eyes see. We live in this world of social media through which we post our good times and hide the bad. Do we share our troubles or hide them? "My life is ok - all is fine/good" - whereas the reality is not always so. The "keeping up with the Joneses", which is uncanny as I am a Jones.....
I could babble for quite some time on this, but this blog is already really long!!
My intention is that by sharing my shit, it helps others to open up about theirs too. I am in a good place in life now - this post isn't a cry for help, it is a sharing of my experience as the time seems right.
My admission – I am a binge eater. Phew I said it and the feeling of relief that I have had since I admitted it, not only to myself but to others is HUGE and I now feel I can make the changes I need to to stop my sabotaging behaviour. And it is sabotaging and it starts to get to you. I would have a few 'clean' days then something would set me off – I wasn't always sure what, hence why I tried so many eating plans to try to stop it. They worked for a few days or even a week and then I'd be back to overload.
Those know me, know me as a fit, healthy woman who likes chocolate and if you didn't know me but saw a photo you'd probably think I ate pretty well and had no 'problems' as such. Looks are deceiving and behind everyone lies a story. What you look like doesn't mean anything and many people don't know though the struggles I have had over the years with my eating, my relationship with myself and with sugary foods and that I binged.
The excitement and choice, the deliciousness of flavours and the colours that greet as you stand in the sweetie aisle!... What to have? It can be bewildering..... That's me when sugar gets a grip on me. The sweetie/chocolate/biscuit aisles have always been a great place for me. I have the ability to eat a lot of sugary stuff and not feel full or sick.
Until.. One Thursday, I really went for it and it was the first time ever I ate so much I felt physically sick - it was the lowest ever in my bingeing. What happened on that particular Thursday? I had had a few healthy days eating (after a bread/carb binge on the saturday) and I was feeling good – I thought I was in 'control' again. I had a bit of chocolate on the Tuesday and some Cava – celebrating my new car. Wednesday I ate more bread than normal and had a piece of cake mid bike ride. Thursday I woke feeling that I needed sugar, I got on with the day and ate well and thought I'd get through the day okay.. Wrong.
I went to a bar/cafe at 2.00pm to meet someone and in the bar was an ice cream parlor. In my semi-weakened mind I decided to have one – one scoop of dark choc flavour and coconut sorbet (an attempt at being 'healthier').
Day Over. My day from then onwards comprised of sugar:
2.00pm – 2 scoops ice cream , small latte
4.00pm – 2 x foot long jelly sweets (you know those long thick ones?) while shopping. In shop almost bought more but didn't until the till – I picked up a small tobelerone, then saw the ice cream shop...... 2 scoops in a cone.
5.00pm – to another shop as I had to pick something up. Into the shop first – buy 4 bars choc – 100g 99% choc, a 50g milk caramel bar, 100g bar white chocolate, and 300g milk choc.
5.30pm waiting to collect my thingy – eaten the caramel bar – go buy 3 more jelly sweet things – eat 2, one of them was yuk so threw it away.... - drive home debating going to the cake shop which I didn't.
6.00pm open red wine start on milk bar
6.45pm decide better have some 'food' – 4 pieces of toast with butter and lemon curd
7pm onwards continue to drink wine (2/3 bottle) and eat chocolate until only 25g of the milk bar is left (all the dark remains as it is not sweet enough).
I didn't even want a lot of the chocolate but it was there and needed finishing – it kept calling me back to the fridge. The only reason I stopped was because I started to feel ill. I went to bed, feeling just very very stuffed...
I woke in the night feeling unbelievably thirsty, burped tasting chocolate and was worried if I had a drink I would throw up. I got back to sleep, only then to wake having a hot flush and still feeling ill. I did and didn't want to be sick and if I was going to be I didn't want to do it in the bathroom upstairs so I went downstairs and calmed a bit. I lay on the settee and drifted to sleep – it was 3am. I woke sweaty, still sicky, went back to sleep, woke again, slept and was woken by my alarm at 7am. I went back upstairs to bed for 2 more hours. I had zero energy and felt like crap. I knew I needed to do something about it so I reached out to friends and made a few changes but it wasn't quite what I needed to really shift.
How did sugar become such a huge thing to me?
As a kid (7 onwards maybe) – my nan always used to buy us 1 pound (money) worth of sweets a week, which we got every saturday. Now 30+ years ago that was a lot of sweets so I used to take whatever I hadn't eaten to school on a Monday and give them away. It wasn't a big deal for me then. Pocket money used to be spent in the corner shop on the way home from school – happy days remembering when you used to be able to get 2 sweets for 1p!! and flying saucers that dissolved in your mouth....!! Woolworths was one of my favourite shops – PICK AND MIX!!! I can't remember having much 'trouble' with sweets then – I ate a lot of them it seems, but I was a pretty skinny kid so no problems right?
At home we always had kit kats and penguins, and Sundays was special dessert day, otherwise it was normally arctic roll after dinner. I was brought up with the 'clean your plate or no dessert' mentality which I don't agree with, but it is what it is. We always had ribena or cordial to drink – panda pops, and big thrills when we heard the ice-cream van jingle – flake please!! Writing those few memories opened my eyes up as to why I have such an emotional association with sweets.
We used to do a monthly shop, and the best part was the biscuit aisle – we used to buy at least 10 packets of biscuits to last the month – so that's maybe 2 packs a week between 4 of us (plus the kit kats and penguins remember). My favourite were custard creams; there were certain biscuits that just got left till the end of the month to be eaten and even though we didn't really like them that much, we of course still ate them!
I started doing my own cooking at 17ish maybe, when I was at college but lived at home and I think I ate less sweets then – but I also smoked – replacement?...When I quit smoking (at 23 I think) I had a drawer of sweets at work – one addiction to another. Food and what I ate started to bother me when I realised at 18 I was a 'woman' with more curves than I thought I had (still pretty slim) – I started to become more obsessed with what I ate and how I looked. Normal for many women and girls really, but who is there to turn to – pro-anorexia websites? My relationship with food and myself didn't develop further into any eating disorder (which I am grateful for), however my relationship with food and myself was disordered.
University came – the days of 'crap' cheaper more convenient food, but for me I do now start to recall eating packets of biscuits, not being able to have only 1 or 2 and stopping – maybe a throw over from always eating everything as a kid and also if there was 2 left in a packet they got eaten and eating faster to beat your sister and dad to them!!... I gained weight, but was not unhappy in my body and didn't think too much about what I ate either although I started to look into vegetarianism from a moralistic view. I eventually did become a vegetarian when I was in my late 20s. Post Uni – work – got into the gym and started to follow a higher protein diet as I went to a 'body builders' gym and I was well toned I think – so that controlled my food a bit. I still don't remember sugar bothering me in the way it did in the last few years.
So when did it all really kick off, or when did I notice? I lived on my own when I bought my house at 23 and ate relatively well – but there were still those “eat the packet” moments! Or the whole tub of ice-cream, which ok a lot of people do, but that doesn't make it right does it..... I met a guy, both into foods and sweets and I just went with it -I trained so maintained my weight quite well regardless. We left the UK in 2001 and then lack of exercise did cause me to gain weight – 13Kg !! WHAT THE.... Once I got back into training it slowly came off but I vowed never to get that big again. Was this the start? Fella and I split – I moved country again – and then it started to get worse.
My bingeing really escalated in 2009 years ago when I had a lot of gas and bloating and spacey head feelings, at times I felt very out of whack with life and enthusiasm to get up in the mornings was zero. I would literally bounce from shop to shop eating chocolate or ice-cream or cake or whatever. I remember getting off a train once purposefully at the wrong station to find somewhere open for chocolate as I knew it was too late for the shop near home. Most of the time I honestly felt powerless to stop. I would get through a 150g bar of chocolate on the train ride home (28mins) and then another one at home, plus whatever else I had bought. It was a good job I was into endurance sports really, and no I don't think it was because I trained so much that I had the 'problem'.
I went to see someone who diagnosed me as having candida, gave me some herbal remedies to take and said I had to stop ALL sugars for 5 weeks. ALL sugars – which also means no fruit..... nothing. I did it though, it was hard at times to plan food and what to eat and when, but I didn't let anything sweet pass into my digestive system at all. I knew the reason why I was doing it – I had to cure myself. How did I feel – GREAT. I actually lost 4kg and that was maybe too light, or maybe that is my natural weight when I eat properly, but I felt great.... I slowly reintroduced fruit – man it tasted strong and sweet and little by little my eating returned to 'normal', I drank again, and I binged again.......
I started reading books about sugar addiction while sitting in a coffee shop drinking a hot chocolate and eating packets of biscuits – I tried to cut it out, I went vegan thinking that would stop it, then gluten free, liver detox, paleo diet – trying to figure out how I could stop this vicious circle I was in.... But what I was really doing was avoiding the issue - it was about me and my self worth and not about the sugar.
It is quite hard to describe what happens and maybe only if you have taken drugs (which I haven't) you'd understand and know what I am going to try to explain. You feel ‘normal’, then something tips you over the edge -various triggers. Then this wave comes over you, it is almost out of body. You know where you are and who you are but you are like a stranger looking out of yourself. You have the first bite and then that's it and you know what you are about to do is really dumb but there seems to be no talking yourself out of it at all. You know all the facts, and you don't care. All you care about is getting something sweet and eating it, so you do. But of course it is not one thing – it takes years to build up to eating a lot and the same with drugs, the more you have the more you need to 'satisfy' you. Mine has built up over 30 years maybe. We used to go out for dinner, starter, main course, dessert 1, dessert 2 – that was normal, I was asked at the start of the meal which 2 desserts I would have!!!... The thing is you never really get satisfied, you might feel sick but not satisfied.....
My bingeing episodes continued again– I told a couple of people but it got brushed to one side and what can they do? One friend watched me mindlessly eat maybe 6 chocolate digestives and she couldn't believe it – she moved them away otherwise I would have had them all. I have even defrosted something I made because I knew it had chocolate in it and I was desperate. Then the desperation is to have your house rid of it all so you eat it all, or in my case throw a lot away, just as I did as a kid giving it away. I would get it under control for a period of time then fall into the chocolate vat, research the latest diet and hope that would fix me - which of course it didn’t.
The ‘fix’ came when I did work on myself - who I am, how I view myself, how I treat myself and started to like and love me…