* "Do I have an eating disorder if I only binge on healthy foods?"
This question speaks of a desperate hope to find a way to be safe and healthy. You want to give yourself good nourishment. You want to take care of yourself. You want to live. Yet you know that a binge, even quality food, harms your body and your life.
Compulsion to Binge Eat
At the same time you can't stop bingeing. Since you are helpless to stop you try to make your binge and yourself as safe from negative consequences as possible.
You might try to binge on salad or steamed vegetables. You might try air popped corn with no oil. These kinds of attempts aren't satisfying for long because they lack the satisfying component of fat.
You might try to add sharp or even painful spices to your binge as an attempt to slow you down by making binge eating painful.
I wonder too, what you mean by "healthy foods." A fresh ripe organic peach could be considered a healthy food. But it's not a healthy food if you eat eight of them in one sitting. Any food, no matter how healthy it is purported to be, is not healthy for you if your portions skyrocket into the binge zone.
Diet Food As Set Up for a Binge
As an attempt to binge and not gain weight you might reach for artificial sweeteners and low fat or non fat food items. This is a disastrous choice. Artificial sweeteners may trick your taste buds into believing you are taking in sugar. But your brain cells know better. You will crave and set yourself up for a sugar binge when you take in artificial sugar substitutes.
The low fat and non fat foods don't provide the satisfaction you body needs from adequate fat in your diet. You will crave more.
Setting yourself up for these intense cravings sets you up for more binge eating. If you continue to make these kinds of food choices you will binge more and feel more helpless and despairing. And you will gain weight while you are hoping that the no sugar and no fat foods you eat will help you to lose weight. Then you have horrible feelings in the morning when you stand on the scale, naked and before breakfast, and see your weight actually going up.
Danger of Ignorance
You may try and even succeed for a while in convincing yourself that if you are bingeing on healthy food, it’s not really a binge, and it's not a signal that you have an eating disorder. This belief will only prolong the duration of your eating disorder and prevent your reaching out for help so necessary for recovery to begin.
Living a life of confidence and willingness to learn new ways of being in the world as our world changes around us can lead you to much more happiness and satisfaction than any binge can bring, even one on healthy food. If you reach for what truly heals your heart and nourishes you soul, your binge eating episodes will fade away. You real life will begin. Food tricks and mind tricks will not resolve your situation. The only real answer to how to stop a binge is healing.
* Actual recovery work from an eating disorder takes time and requires commitment. Often, as an early stage before doing that work, people will try to convince themselves that they are behaving in healthy ways and perhaps, don't have an eating disorder at all. This is wishful thinking, understandable but not viable.. Hope for the answer they want t this question and not getting it can be a major step toward getting into real recovery work.
Joanna is a psychotherapist in private practice serving California, Arizona, Florida, Utah and Oregon. All appointments are virtual. Serving adults only with a minimum age of 25. Seniors welcome.
Author of Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder.
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