I have never been sure if I was a binge eater. I’m still not sure.
I know I used to eat some wacky stuff. I’d sometimes make frosting just to lick it off of spoons. I loved crunching on frozen orange concentrate crystals. And surely everyone has eaten an entire box of Twinkies over a weekend, right? Right? Hello? Why aren’t you answering me?
Though that eating behavior was rather atrocious, I usually felt in control of it. I was eating a can of frosting because I wanted to, not because I couldn’t stop. And I’m pretty sure I always stopped when I was full. From what I’ve read, binge eaters usually eat rapidly. They’ll eat even when they’re full or not actually hungry. I typically ate this food alone, which is a binging behavior. But who would eat orange concentrate in public anyway? I get strange enough looks for admitting I like to eat Ramen noodles raw.
Yesterday Marla was saying she’d never binged like someone who ate a pint of ice cream in one sitting. My first thought was, “A pint of ice cream really isn’t a binge is it? It’s not like it was a gallon. It comes in that cute little cardboard cup because that’s the proper serving size, right?” My second thought was “The fact that I even have to ask these questions proves that I am somewhat screwed up.”
There are some occasions where I do feel like the off switch in my brain has been broken off. Normally my eating is like the conveyor belt in the checkout line of the grocery store that automatically scrolls forward until a box of oatmeal or can of olives breaks the infrared beam right before the scanning plate to stop the motion. That’s all fine until you throw on a pack of gum or a bag of shredded cheese which slips under the beam and keeps plowing your purchases into the crack between the belt and the metal scanner. Sometimes my beam doesn’t get tripped and I just want to keep eating and eating even though I know I should just stop the damn conveyor belt shoving food into my mouth.
Luckily this doesn’t happen often, but some foods are prone to trigger it. Muffins. Cake. Ice cream. I can be halfway through eating a muffin and I’ve already decided I want to eat another one. My mind can’t even focus on the pleasure in the present without wanting to draw that pleasure out even longer. I don’t want one piece of cake, I want three. Are there actually people in the world who can eat one piece of cake and not go for another slice because they actually don’t want it and not because they would be embarrassed to be seen pigging out? How can anyone eat just one piece of cake without tying themselves to the couch with a knotted up afghan? Again, the fact that I’m asking these questions makes me wonder about my pathology on this subject.
After Easter dinner, at which I literally did eat about half of an angel food cake/pineapple pudding cream concoction topped with raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, I brought home some of the stuffed feta and spinach salmon we’d had as the main course. I intended to just put it in the fridge, but I ended up dumping it on a plate and eating 2/3 of it, even though I was way past full. This was extremely odd behavior for me. I can’t recall doing anything like that in the last couple of years, if ever. I don’t know what triggered it, other than the fact that I’d declared Easter a free day so perhaps I was trying to make the most of it, though I don’t think that’s entirely it.
The next day I just went back to my regular routine. No binging. I ran. Did some Pilates. I have no plans to make frosting or buy orange concentrate. So I’m left wondering, am I really a binge eater? Was this like one drunken night of revelry anyone might have or am I like an alcoholic that went on a bender, but now has to get right back on the wagon? I dunno. I’ve heard tales of people eating entire bags of Oreos, but I never ate *that* much in one sitting and don’t really relate to those stories. Maybe I am a binge eater and I’m just too close to the behavior to see it. Maybe I can’t remember all those times I ate an entire box of Papa John’s cheese bread because I simply considered it to be normal.
Whatever it is, the types of food I tend to eat now don’t trigger the binging behavior and I usually avoid the foods that do. Maybe that’s the best I can hope for. I don’t want to ask people to stop making tasty desserts just because I’m around. I like tasty desserts. Even if I binge on them, if I only do it occasionally I don’t see anything wrong with that. But I also know that if I lived a life where I was constantly surrounded by pastry carts, I might not be so thin right now.
I’m sure some of you will have opinions about whether I am a binge eater or not, but I don’t know if I particularly care if I can label myself one or the other. Labeling things sometimes seems more academic than useful. I know sometimes I like eating something so much that I don’t want to stop eating it. Is that much different from liking reading a book so much that I don’t want to put it down or enjoying a TV show so much that I watch an entire season on DVD in a day? The only difference seems to be that eating too much can be harmful to your health, whereas I’ve never heard of anyone being killed by a book or being swallowed by a sinkhole of butt impressions in a couch. You might be crushed by a bookcase though, which is why you should always get a ladder to fetch the book off the top shelf and never attempt climbing up the shelves. Maybe if reading more than 10 pages a day made you sick, there would a lot of ill bookworms out there.