One of the consequences of food allergies is nutrient deprivation. And one of the potential consequences of nutrient deprivation is binging.
For years I had food allergies without realizing it, and I became increasingly nutrient deprived. Because I was nutrient starved, I began to binge eat. I was 12 going on 13, which is a pretty common age to begin a disordered relationship with food, so I just assumed that this was an emotional problem, not a physical problem, and I blamed myself.
I thought my tendency to binge eat meant that I was weak. That it was clear evidence that I had no self control. And because I was doing this to myself (no one was forcing me to eat) I thought that I had no one to blame but myself. So I just felt completely out of control, filled with shame, regret, uncomfortably full, and yet still ravenous. People tried to give me advice, to help me manage this, but it was always about portion control and weight management which just served to cement my erroneous and damaging idea that my needs were fundamentally wrong and therefore, untrustworthy.
So imagine my surprise when I just stopped binging. Just like that.
And no I didn't suddenly acquire discipline or will power. I simply stopped eating the foods that I'm allergic to. And as my gut started to heal from years of damage, I started to absorb nutrients for the first time in almost a decade, and I lost my need to binge.
I remember it vividly. All of sudden, there was an absence where there had been constant struggle. And in that space I began to learn how to listen to myself and I began to learn to trust my hungers for the first time.
It was intensely freeing. I relaxed in places I didn't know I was tight.
From the outside it could have seemed like I had magically gained some self control, but that wasn't it at all. It was just that the reason I was binging was gone.
So what was that reason? The short story it this: Because of my food allergies, the villi in my small intestine were dulled and damaged, which means that they they could not absorb the nutrients that I was eating. So while I ate and ate until I felt like I could burst, my body got very little actual nutrients. Which left me never felt satisfied and always hungry.
Never mind the physical consequences of finding a way to stop binging (weight loss was the most notable) the real transformation for me, was emotional and mental.
Once I stopped binging and understood the reason why was I binging in the first place, I stopped seeing myself, or more accurately, I began to stop seeing myself as a weak person who can't manage herself and I started seeing myself as a strong woman who's appetites and desires are both things to listen to and trust.
This is an important point that I didn't get to make more of in the video:
Sometimes, most times, the urge to binge is your body trying to tell you something. Instead of wasting years, like me, feeling like you are wrong, and that your body is betraying you. Instead of spending time, like I did, wrapped up in shame about your lack of self control. Try to see it as your body communicating with you the only way that it can. This is hard to do. You probably learned, like me, not to trust yourself a long time ago. But my best advice to you and to myself is this: Trust yourself and try to listen anyway. It's worth it.
A book that I used to read and reread regularly to help me with the emotional roller coaster that is trying to suppress the insuppressible is 'Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp. I highly recommend it.
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