Stuffed With Emptiness: My First Binge

Posted: September 28, 2011 at 7:09 am

I feel strongly about bringing more awareness to the struggles of binge eating. This post delves into details and thoughts of my first binge. If this topic could be triggering to your own thoughts and experience in any way, please read with caution or wait to visit FFF later.

I remember the night vividly.

I sat on the chair in my parents’ home, a laptop across my lap – chilly, tired. And hungry. The words for my five page essay on a Spanish play wouldn’t flow. My spreadsheet to plan out my meals and macronutrient counts for the following day kept distracting me.

I have to make sure I get this right. It’s worked well so far. I can’t believe I lost another four pounds this week! What can I cut to still make progress. I bet I could lose another five pounds. Yes. I can. That will be my next goal.

With smugness across my face, I set my thoughts on my new goal. I couldn’t see that losing over twenty pounds in ten weeks did me no favors. I couldn’t see I weighed significantly less than optimal for my body – even less than I weighed on the day of my fitness competition. I was, literally, starving.

quote 4

My body – neglected, in need of food, searching for energy to keep itself awake and functioning – finally overtook my control.

I need something. I didn’t eat dinner tonight because I told my mom I wasn’t hungry, so I have a little wiggle room from the day. I can have a teaspoon of peanut butter. That won’t hurt my goal.

I went to the refrigerator. I pulled out my jar of natural peanut butter and my food scale. I measured out my teaspoon of peanut butter. It tasted better than anything I had tasted in a long time. I packed everything away and laid the spoon in the sink, to return to my chair and finish my essay.

Only now, the thoughts of peanut butter consumed me. I told myself one more spoonful won’t hurt and returned to the refrigerator for one more scoop. I returned to my chair, only to stare at my screen until, like a moth to a flame, I found myself, spoon in hand, at the jar again.

Time and time again. Sneak a bite. Try to focus. Sneak a bite again. Until suddenly, there I sat, looking down to an empty jar of peanut butter at after 2 am. Shame washed over me.

quote 5

I did not understand what had happened. How did I get so off course? Yet, somehow, food continued to rule my thoughts. I couldn’t get it out of my head.

I snuck over to the pantry. The door creaked ever so slightly as I opened it, making me pause with dread that someone might figure out what I planned to do. I felt disappointed at the selection – low carb wraps, bags of brown rice, bottles of olive oil, cans of vegetables.

Then, from the back corner I saw my brother’s special box of PopTarts. The only junk food we had in the house as I had convinced my mom to not buy anything “sugar or fat laden” because of my “diet”.

The wrapping crinkled in my fingers. I ever so carefully peeled it away, in fear of getting caught. I took my first bite and the sugar hit me. It was my first taste of anything besides plain oatmeal, protein powder, chicken, eggs, an apple, or raw vegetables in months. It released an almost euphoric response and suddenly the entire box disappeared, leaving me digging in the trash to hide the evidence.

quote 6

I went to bed in tears. Stuffed…but more empty at the same time. My mind could not understand what happened. I lied to my brother the following morning about where his breakfast could have gone. I skipped a class that day to finish my essay. And I didn’t allow a single morsel of food to cross my lips that day either. Sadly, it was just the beginning…

  • How have you had to “conquer yourself” in the past?

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88 Comments to “Stuffed With Emptiness: My First Binge”
  1. Thanks for sharing this Tina! I have dealt with binge eating issues as well (I guess its fair to say I still do but to a lesser extent) and knowing that others have had this struggle helps. I have tried to find out what triggers these binges for me and avoid that food and/or situation and its helped quite a bit. I know now that I need to manage stress better which is a huge benefit for my overall well being!

  2. Errign says:

    Thanks for sharing this post Tina. It’s an important reminder that sometimes, our minds and bodies do take the reins, whether we want them to or not. I think that I’ve experienced the “conquering yourself” bit when I was 17 and had to pull myself out of wallowing, crying and violently reacting to my dad’s brain tumor diagnosis. 🙂

  3. I think for anyone who has issues with eating, it will be a never ending battle. I know thats the way it is for me. Some days its easier to deal with and others, are HARD. But the point is that you are aware, and that you are constantly trying to conquer those moments. I have a problem with secret eating which is why I now do a nightly recap of everything i’ve eaten for the day on my blog. It holds me accountable, and I have promised myself that I will be honest no matter what the outcome. My hope is that by continuing this practice i will conquer my own demons with food.
    This was a very thought provoking post to start my day off with. I really appreciate you putting yourself out there. It helps people who have the same issues more than you know!

    • Tina says:

      I think “secret eating” is the biggest thing I try to avoid. I still have times where I certainly overload on sugar and end up too full…but never classify it as a binge because it wasn’t an emotional drowning in food by myself. True binges always happened alone for me.

  4. I LOVED this post. As someone who has also fought with binge eating, I am so happy to see more awareness brought to the issue.

  5. Efka says:

    Thanks for sharing that

  6. lindsay says:

    TIna, you are a beautiful writer and a beautiful soul. God definitely has used your past to be an encouragement to others today. Thank you for your story, honest and real!

  7. i’m so glad you shared. although it wasn’t a trigger, it did cause me to think about the times that i binged in college, thinking it was totally normal and wondering why i couldn’t look at myself in the mirror afterwards. it’s a hard battle and i can honestly say that it’s taken the full 14 years to fight back, but it’s been 100% worth it!

  8. You are amazing for sharing this girl! Great post 🙂

  9. This just breaks my heart because it is something all too familiar. I’m just now getting off that path of life and am wrapping up treatment for anorexia and compulsive over-exercising which consumed my life for the past 10 years. It’s a rough journey but the end is so worth it!

    Thank you for sharing this!

  10. Tina, thank you for sharing such an emotional story. I have never experienced anything like that, but I can relate with trauma related to food. You are such an inspiration!

  11. Tina, thank you so much for sharing such a personal and emotional story! I haven’t ever experienced something quite that intense, but when I was kind of starving myself in high school I would go through periods where I would suddenly be overcome with the urge to eat and I would- I just wouldn’t necessarily do what I call binging. To “see” (because I don’t actually see you in person haha) you know and how far you have come from that is such an inspiration and is truly amazing!

  12. Kelly says:

    I think the word “binge” in thrown around alot. I don’t think people understand sometimes that binge eating is a real eating disorder and what exactly it means. I applaud you for sharing it with us and hopefully it will show people not to casually use the word binge when they overate a little at dinner the night before.

    • Tina says:

      Agreed. Binge eating goes far more emotionally deep than simple overeating a bit too much at dinner or at a social function. Or having four cookies in one sitting. A binge is where you are so full you feel sick…but can’t stop. Where you ache with the loss of control around food. Where you try to console yourself with food but feel shame in it as well. It’s a beast.

      • Bristel says:

        Tina, thanks so much for sharing this. It’s nice to hear struggles that feel so personal echoed in someone else’s experience. When I was seeing a therapist who specialized in eating disorders, she told me something about the definitiong of “binge” that I hadn’t thought about before, and it has really helped me gain perspective. She said, a binge doesn’t have to be an enormous amount of food. A binge can even be something as small as an apple if you’re eating it for the wrong reasons–if you’re feeling anxious or stresssed or sad, or you’re finally left alone and you want to “celebrate” or “relax.” People who struggle with binge eating disorder experience an almost high feeling from food, and chasing after any amount food for that temporary high, with little control over your actions or emotions, is where the binge begins. Followed by shame and frustration. And I agree, it is a beast. I’m definitely on the up-side of my recovery, but I still struggle, so reading posts like yours is a great reminder that “normal eating” might be difficult, but I. Can. Do. It. It’s all about the mindset.

        • Tina says:

          Oh, I agree. I didn’t mean that a binge had to be a huge amount of food. I meant to focus on the lack of control and the emotional struggle. Thanks for sharing from your therapist. I love that this is opening up talk on this subject.

  13. I don’t have anything to add, but binge eating is surrounded by so much shame and it is great that you are sharing your story so that people might feel less alone.

  14. Thanks for sharing Tina. Restriction and Anorexia are pretty much glamorized until the point of emaciation. Binging and bulimia, on the other hand, are always viewed as shameful in their excess. I’ve written about my own binge eating on my blog, but I’ve never spoke in person about it with anyone except my boyfriend because it is such a stigmatized and misunderstood illness. Once again, thanks for sharing! You wrote this post beautifully.

  15. I too struggled with binge eating although i am A LOT better now. I will never say im 100% because i believe that we will always struggle with this and it will always be a battle. We are strong and we will come out on top!

  16. I never had an eating disorder get out of control but I’ve dealt with mini binges frequently. Even to this day I get them, but I can control it more. Whenever it happens I feel like someone else is taking over my body and it’s not me.

  17. I, too, have been caught in this emotional, uncontrollable, and saddening cycle. Fortunately, I’ve been able to overcome it over the years, but it still will test me at times. You are such an inspiration, Tina. It’s great to see how far you’ve come through it all. Thanks for opening up and sharing your story!

  18. Tina says:

    Thanks for sharing this Tina. I can totally relate to this post. I still struggle with binge eating. It has gotten a lot better but i’m still not in a great place just yet. I would love you to talk more about this topic and how things got better for you. You give me hope!

    • Tina says:

      I’m hoping to make this a series actually to go through some of the key points in my journey through the entire experience.

  19. I’m SO glad you wrote this! I don’t think binge eating gets enough attention and people just write it off as a “lack of self-control” when really it’s something you can’t shake off no matter how much self-control you try to muster.

  20. Laura says:

    Wow, this brings back so many memories for me and I am SO thankful I am no longer starving, bingeing and purging. My first binge was at a Halloween party in my class at college. I let myself have pizza and after that, it all went downhill. My memories of my freshman year of college are made up of empty nut cans and peanut butter jars. I think they honestly saved my life because at least I was getting some form of calories, even though it was through binges. Thanks for sharing, Tina.

  21. Khushboo says:

    U expressed yourself so eloquently, Tina! Our bodies ate smarter than we think…there’s only so long they will put up with deprivation until it fights back with a vengeance!

  22. This was so hard for me to read– I struggled with bingeing and purging for years, so I know very much where you’re coming from. I definitely feel like those were years where I had to “conquer myself” to get to a healthier place..and it did take years for that to happen. It makes me so sad to think back on what that time was like for me…but it also makes me appreciate my current (healthy) position even more.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  23. jobo says:

    Wow. This was so powerful to read, Tina. My heart ached for you in that dark spot and I just want to hug ‘that’ you then, and the you NOW for conquering it and being so brave to talk about it as much as you do. This is by far one of my most favorite posts from you.

  24. Thank you for sharing, Tina. 🙂

  25. cheryl says:

    it sounds odd, but my moment was a package of hot cooa mix. against my bed b/c i shared a common area (grad school) and didn’t want to be seen and already ate but NEEDED more. all i could find was that packet. i ate it dry. and cried. and knew things were going off-track

  26. Wow, Tina. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve never had food issues like you describe and its helpful to understand them when you share so openly the thoughts and feelings behind it. I wouldn’t even believe this is coming from the same woman whose blog I read now and has such a healthy outlook on food and life. You’ve come a long way!

  27. Diana says:

    Tina, you put your struggle into words so eloquently. I don’t think I could pinpoint a certain ‘moment’ in my life and sometimes wonder when food became so much more than just something yummy my mom put in front of me – something that could bring me joy and energy, and alternatively something that can be fraught with peril. Yeesh.

  28. This is such a powerful post Tina and has put perfectly into words what I’ve struggled with in the past. It’s something that continues to be a challenge but your story provides hope and inspiration to so many people!

  29. Kiah says:

    Hey Tina, thanks for sharing this. You’re a really great runner! I haven’t struggled with binge eating, but I’ve definitely had to conquer personal challenges…as does everyone 🙂 Lately I’ve been focusing on conquering mental roadblocks while running.

  30. Thanks so much for sharing, Tina You rock!

  31. Does everyone remember their first binge? I do. It was after being very anorexic and that feeling you described took over. It was an extra large box of wheat thins, which I ate all of, that started mine.That was the weekend that I started going from 90 pounds to 150 pounds in less than a year.

    Pop tarts were another major culprit as days passed…and I’d constantly be hiding those silver wrappers. I remember my days of hiding food and driving to far away places to sink into my binge alone — terrified someone would see me in a parking lot or “find me out.” It was mortifying the times my behavior was discovered.

    Anyway, I’m in a much better place in life now but the memories are always fresh. The temptation is always there.

    • Tina says:

      I can relate to all of that. It’s crazy how alone it feels but that there really are others out there who can relate. Why I don’t want to keep it so hush hush.

  32. Right there with you…beautiful writing too, Tina! I could feel and see everything you were writing.

  33. This is really amazing- thanks so much for sharing you story (and I agree with other comments- the writing is really beautiful). You have a way of “painting” the story with your words- I can visualize every detail. I really, really appreciate when strong, healthy women can share personal stories of moments of weakness- it makes us more “human.”
    I struggled with binge eating (and overexercising to compensate) at lot in my mid 20’s. I know that horrible “full but empty” feeling. I still struggle with mindful eating a lot, but have thankfully got a hold of the late night binges that used to control me.
    Thanks for sharing such a personal story.

  34. I have been there many time before too. It’s the most embarrassing thing and there’s nobody around. The beating yourself up, the rationalizing, the tears. Thank you for sharing.

  35. I love this post SO MUCH Tina!! I can totally relate. Thank you for sharing- this will help so many people! <3

  36. Carly says:

    Thanks for sharing Tina. Having battled with an eating disorder myself, I can completely relate to so much of this. While I haven’t classified myself as a binge eater, I definitely know what it’s like to plan every morsel that I put in my body. For a year, calories consumed my life. When I wasn’t eating, I thought about eating. I ended up a skeleton (size 00 was too big on me). Anyone who has had an eating disorder will ALWAYS have at least mental relapses, but its the bigger person in each of us that helps to not fall back to bad behaviors. I find now that if I do (occasionally) get out of control with sweets, it helps to tell my husband. He doesn’t really care that it happened – in a good way, but sharing my lack of control helps me to face the problem and admit that it happened so that I can move on and not keep it a secret. I always feel better hearing these stories from others who are now healthy, because I don’t feel so alone 🙂

  37. Great post! I love how you articulate your struggles.

    I’m still on my food journey and haven’t arrived at a place that I feel totally happy with the way I eat and how I look. While I hate that you had to go through this, I’m happy that you’re able to share it with everyone. Your ability to make yourself vulnerable is really appreciated.

  38. Sara says:

    Thank you for posting this. I can completely relate to you. I’m going through a rough time with my eating right now. I am in college. There are so many unhealthy food options on campus-lots of food trucks too. I have been eating just salads and fruit because they are my safety foods. I was happy with it and had no desire to try the unhealthy foods. Yesterday I met with a counselor and she scared me so bad by saying I needed to gain weight or I could pass out somewhere or have a heart attack. So, I binged all day and went around campus trying all the food I was able to resist before. It was the best food I’ve tasted in months. I ate everything very fast until I felt physically sick. I am terrified now that I am addicted to the food. That’s my biggest fear.

    • Tina says:

      I know what you mean. I would try as soon as possible to keep from viewing foods as good or bad. I know from personal experience getting rid of labels helped tremendously for me.

  39. Emily says:

    Sadly, I understand this post exactly. I know that exact feeling of being out of control and being “out of mind” until afterwords where you ask yourself what had just happened. No one is alone in this daily struggle.

  40. Katie says:

    This is so enlightening for me. I’m excited that you are considering making this into a series. Already I’m wondering what happened next. You are a gifted writer – you should consider making this into a memoir.

  41. Leana Miller says:

    Beautifully written. We are here to serve the lord, and sometimes that takes a walk down a dark path; a path that the lord knows you will be strong enough to get out of and tell others, and help them 🙂 I have been there too… the physical and emotional pain it causes. “Food Hangovers” the next day. ICK. and thankfully God saved me before I completely drowned. Now every time I have a temtation I remind myself of how selfish it is to stuff myself with food that I don’t need! all while there are starving children somewhere else who would be so confused by such a strange behavior! The “empty” feeling always goes away when I fill it with some christian book reading, or scriptures! 🙂 Thanks for posting this, you’re an amazing person!

  42. This post makes me sad about your struggle yet so proud of you for conquering that mindset each day now…
    It’s scary how easily negative food and body image thoughts can overcome and consume our thoughts…

  43. Yup – hits close to home for a lot of us, including myself.

  44. […] when I read Tina‘s post this morning, it really struck a chord with me…because she is one of the […]

  45. AmandaCG says:

    Wow. Thank you for sharing, binge eating is so overlooked and not talked about or dealt with enough. It stems from something emotional and deep. People don’t realize its a form of drug, like alcohol or drugs. Just as an alcoholic or a recovering drug addict says, they will always be in recovery for it. Same goes for an eating disorder. Its so refreshing and encouraging to see how healthy and balanced you are. Inspiring to all.

  46. Lauren says:

    Tina! WOW!! For once I think I have stopped and sort of looked at myself in the mirror and realized where a deep rooted issue is. I deal with the “eating in private” and thinking that it won’t eventually find me…I manage to keep the scales at bay because I work it off with my daily exercise…but I beat myself up about how “good” I am and not seeing any results but I try to forget about those times where I have “eaten in private” as if they never happened….but they did happen…and I always remember them…and then make myself feel horrible about it…

  47. teresa says:

    How brave of you to share the real truth of this night in your life. Your thoughts, and the way you wrote the whole thing is great. It’s still something so many people can barely begin to talk about. I’m discovering, through my husband who’s been helping out on a depression board, that this phenomenon of “cutting” is frighteningly common now too. Lots of young women, like you in this post. Lots of them have eating disorders and it sure seems like a night like this would trigger this new, additional issue as well. I truly believe your honesty and the example of how you live your life now will help many people.

  48. Sydney says:

    Tina, you are such an amazing person. I feel like I don’t really know much about binge eating, but notice some of the same tendencies in my eating habits. I’ll be really particular (not quite measuring it out particular) about what I am eating and then eat a pint of ice cream and candy bars and chips and anything I can get my hands on. You are truly an inspiration.

  49. Shan says:

    Tina, as someone currently going through an eating disorder and trying to recover, I want to THANK YOU for this post and anymore that you decide to do. This is an inspiration to get better =)

  50. Shayla says:

    Tina you’re such an inspiration and thank you for sharing your story with us. I would love for you to do a series of this.

    During my disordered eating days I had many moments like what you described. I was 20 lbs. less than I am now, my body was starving, and there were nights I couldn’t take it anymore. I would stand there in disbelief at the empty nut butter jar or ice cream tub. It was dreadful and I’m so happy I’m freed from that disorder. It will always be with me and a part of me, but I’m happy of the person I’ve become because of it 🙂

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