05/20/2015 02:50 pm ET Updated May 20, 2016

But It's Just One Cookie

One cookie; how damaging can one cookie be to your diet? It can terribly damaging when you're a binge eater.

Whenever I was trying to "be good," and someone offered me a treat, I'd politely refuse and try to move on. But people are food pushers and they'd constantly continue to try to tempt me with phrases like, "c'mon, one won't hurt," or, "it's just one cookie."

The problem with binge eating is that it's never just one cookie. Oh, it may start out that way, but then one cookie leads to two cookies, then three cookies, then an entire sleeve of Oreos.

Years ago I attended Weight Watchers when they were first beginning their points program. My perky little, 80-pound consultant showed me the points for one cookie while cheerfully telling me in a voice usually reserved for small children, "Look, you can even have a cookie!" My not-so-cheerful response was, "If I could eat one cookie, I wouldn't be at Weight Watchers!"

The problem wasn't that I didn't understand that eating a box of thin mints was bad, the problem was that once I started wolfing down a bunch of cookies, or anything else for that matter, I couldn't stop.

Maybe I'm just an overachiever. Like when I set my mind to start a project I'm hell-bent on finishing it. Yeah, that's the ticket. No one likes a quitter; right? If I'm going to eat, I'm going to eat it all!

I'm certainly not trying to poke fun at anyone struggling with binge eating. I know what it's like to be caught in the grip of really wanting to stop eating but not being able to. I struggled with that feeling for far too many years, so believe me when I tell you, I know it's a serious issue. But it's in my nature to try to keep a sense of humor; it's my coping mechanism.

If you are struggling with binge eating, please seek help. I resisted facing my own issues for a long time because, in addition to being an overachiever, I'm stubborn -- to a fault.

I resisted counseling. I hate all that touchy-feely, tell me about your mother stuff, and I didn't want to lay on a couch that other people had been laying on all day.

I resisted group meetings. I guess I don't play well with others.

I resisted going to the doctor. I didn't want to be on any medication, and frankly, I know they weigh me every time I go there; and who wants to actually face the number on the scale?

I resisted telling my friends and family. I didn't want anyone to think I was "screwed up" and start judging me. I had visions of holidays where the family would chain the fridge shut so I couldn't get into the leftovers.

I resisted my way right into heartbreak and despair until I realized that what I was dealing with wasn't that uncommon, and that if I just let go and opened up a little, I might actually be able to break free.

It's still a struggle. There are still times when I feel like eating everything in sight. There are still times when I stress eat. There are still times when I eat one cookie, one chip, or one spoonful of cereal too many, and wonder if I've somehow crossed the slippery slope back to my old ways.

But I've learned to manage my disorder and get healthy and strong; and you can, too. If you have a problem with binge eating, or any type of eating disorder, don't struggle alone. Call your physician, seek out a support group, or get help from a nutritionist or health coach, like me.

And do one more thing -- don't be so hard on yourself. Learn to love yourself and appreciate the person you are. Hating yourself won't help. If you've been doing that for a while, try loving yourself instead and see the difference it makes in your life.


Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.