A 45-year-old fat man trying to find his inner skinny dude.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I have been reading some blog postings about the binge.   For example:


The second one is particular painful, and there's a follow-up, too, which is also painful.

I do not binge.  (Knocking wood right now.)  From what I can tell, I'm the guy who gets lax, and thinks, eh, one more X won't matter.  One more yogurt, one more piece of chicken, whatever.  That becomes "one candy bar won't hurt."  And then, "one cinnamon roll won't hurt."  And then you put them all together and you have a symphony.  Or is if a fugue?

But even when I do not binge, I do feel the compulsion to eat a lot.  To EAT.  I feel that especially when I'm tired or upset.  Lately, these conditions have felt pretty normal to me.  What I try to do when that happens is first to check in and decide if I'm actually hungry.  This is easy and takes no time.  Sometimes it even curbs the urge to eat.  Once in a while, anyway.  But not most of the time.

When I have the urge to EAT, I try to remember that being overfull is not comfortable.  Same result as above.  Sometimes it works, mostly it does not.  Sometimes I load up on filling but low-cal stuff.  I can eat dill pickles with the best of them.  Maybe a big salad.  Sometimes if I get very full, I don't feel like eating anymore.

Luckily, I have never eaten an entire jar of peanut butter.  A bag of cheddar popcorn is a different story.  I can definitely eat an entire pizza (see my earlier entry below).  Hell, eating an entire pizza doesn't even seem all that strange to me.

Years ago, my doctor (whom I really liked), told me she thought it was tough trying to get in 2000 calories  every day.  I was very surprised.  I could (and can) get that in by the end of lunch and not be hugely full.  But I'm getting used to the idea of not being stuffed.  I read that the difference between Americans and Europeans is that Americans eat until they are full, whereas Europeans eat until they are no longer hungry.  This is an important difference.

I see all these ads for diet products that say Lose Weight Without Feeling Hungry.  a) I have been doing that.  b) What's wrong with being hungry?  Being hungry makes me feel as though I'm kind of lean, that I'm not just turning myself into a sausage casing, pushing more and more food down my gullet.  If you eat enough real food (potatoes not potato chips, chicken not chicken nuggets, etc.), you will probably never be overly hungry.  Plus, even if you are, unless you are destitute or not living in the Western world, you have ready access to some kind of food.

So what is with the binge?  It's not about hunger, not physical hunger, anyway.  It's about need.  I think it's about habit.  Eating has in the past been a comfort.  Not eating (meaning getting thinner, being healthier) is a change that puts you out of your comfort zone.  That in itself is a stressor.  Sure, there are great things about losing weight--new clothes, taking up less space, being able to do more, move better, etc.  But people check you out, too (I swear--even me).  This is cool, but it also means you are not invisible anymore. 

I knew a woman who lost 130 pounds and then competed for Miss Alabama.  She told me stories about guys who were assholes to her when she was fat hitting on her when she was thin.  Some didn't even know who she was.  (She turned them down, which I like.) 

The point is, when you change your body, you are changing your life.  People will view you differently when you're thin than when you're fat.  One of those people is you.  That is freaking uncomfortable.  What's the best way to get comfortable?  You have a choice, I guess.  Ride it out (the one I'm hoping for).  Or get fat again.  Bingeing will do that for you.  (So will "just one" or "just one more" of anything, over time.)  The bingeing is, I think, in part an old habit, and in part a psychological pushback.  It's not you being kind to yourself.  It's you trying to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. 

It won't work, not if you hated being fat enough to start getting thin. 


  1. I'm not a binge eater either - I can feel sympathy for people who deal with it, without actually understanding it. I guess I'm just a chronic or compulsive overeater. Like you it's "another piece of chicken." One thing I'm coming to realize is that when food is an emotional crutch, you can't just quit it cold turkey without some other form of support. If you're using food as a coping mechanism, a comfort, a distraction, you need to learn other ways to deal with stress, otherwise you're just putting yourself in the worst possible situation: in pain without a method of relief.

    For me it's difficult (and shocking) to find anything that is as good a crutch as food. I have to watch my alcohol intake, because that's about the closest substitute, and I definitely don't want to go down that road. I've read some books lately that have been helpful, and several blog posts or comments from bloggers that were illuminating.

    Also, for a lot of people, as much as they hate being fat, being thin can be problematic. Believe it or not, I actually have mixed feelings about losing weight! There was a good post on Lou Schuler's blog, I think I linked to it a couple months back, something like When the Weight is There for a Reason, you can probably find it. It only just touched the surface, but I know in my own experience that life is in some ways more difficult when I'm thinner (see recent boob post).

    Skip, I tell you, if I ever get all this stuff figured out I will be PERFECT.

  2. Me and you both! Though Buddhism would say we are right now. (Yeah, yeah.)

    I think you're right about the need for other support. I understand (though I have not researched it) that a lot of people who have gastric bypass surgery become alcoholics, because they can't use food. (I assume the anxiety associated with their changed lives adds to the need for support.)

    Classic talk therapy is probably a good idea. A journal might help (or a blog!).

    Have you ever seen It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World? This is for you: