How My Lack of Control Ruined My Life
You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I am a compulsive eater. I’m 5’11”, 215 lbs. so I’m a little big for my size, but I don’t fall into the obese category, at least for the medical definition. I work out three to four times a week and mostly eat healthily. That being said, I have my weaknesses, like anyone else.
First, let me lay down some information for you. What constitutes someone being a compulsive eater? You may picture someone very overweight, sitting on the couch shoving all types of fatty, salty food into their mouths like there was no tomorrow. According to the Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, compulsive eating is defined as:
“an eating disorder characterized by continuous or frequent excessive eating over which an individual does not feel he orshe has control, and which usually leads to weight gain and obesity. Eating is not connected to hunger, and food intakemay be rapid or secret. Compensatory behaviors like purging, laxative use, or excessive exercise do not occur” (2009).
The main point taken from this definition is “control.” There were/are times when I would eat until I would physically hurt. My stomach would be bulging out and I would know that I needed to stop, but I couldn’t control the need to eat. You don’t stop when your body tells you to stop. Normally a person would eat for a little while, pause, and your body says, “Thanks, but you can stop eating now. The stomach is full and I don’t think we should keep going.” Then the majority of people would step away. Compulsive eaters don’t. I would ignore that message, or even not notice it because I would still be eating. Then I would gain weight, feel miserable about myself and eat more. It becomes a vicious cycle.
There would be days where supper would be a whole bag of cookies or a whole 16" pizza. I would get a 20 piece bucket of chicken for myself and just eat and not stop. I would know it was wrong and the worst choice, but at the time I didn't have the willpower to stop.
Going back to the control. It’s taken me a long time, over 20 years, to finally feel good about myself and the body that I have. I started changing my surroundings, getting rid of the gallon ice cream tubs, the huge bags of chips and pretzels, and the big blocks of cheese. I’ve realized that the food doesn’t control me, I control the food. I try to keep healthy choices in my pantry and fridge. I drink more water than I ever have before.
Yes, there have been times where I still go back to the old habits. That’s okay. I know that I will always be a compulsive eater. There are still times where my supper will be a big bag of tortilla chips. Now, though, I have the forethought to recognize the patterns before they take over. Instead of eating three big bags, I eat one. Then I don’t go back to it for at least a month. Or if I overeat I try to stick to healthy choices like fruit or vegetables. The struggle is still there. Every day is a new challenge. I still want to eat the cookies, chips, ice cream, and the whole pizza, but I have to step back and ask is it worth all the heavy work later? I still don’t like the way I look, but I know I’ve gotten more comfortable about how I look. But now instead of wallowing about it, I go to the gym, or for a walk to take my mind off the craving. I don’t let the compulsion take over my life. I take back the control.