March 11, 2012

I'm Going to Binge! Oh, Never Mind ...

The past few days have been interesting!

After I made the wonderfully tasty cold banana pudding, I must admit I found my appetite somewhat higher. It not only tasted more like a dessert than the room-temperature version, I reacted as if it were. Nothing bad happened, though, until I was once again exposed to external family-related stress. 

I bought and ate a large chunk of raspberry coffee cake (yes, sugar/wheat/SUGAR) in a "take that world" fit of temper. I fully expected to get sick as a dog but there were NO bad consequences. It's entirely possible I now have a truly healthy gut and one junk-food assault is not enough to make me sick. We could call the coffee cake incident risky or foolish, but we can't call it a binge because I ate one large serving and no more--plus there were no follow-up bags or boxes of junk.

The day after eating coffee cake I ate my normal healthy menu and the day after that was a calorie-deprived day in which I drank my usual coffee with cream and honey but ate no solid food. I'm not recommending that approach in any way but it actually worked quite well. I enjoyed the heck out of the coffee--even had a mug or two more than usual--and my body didn't even notice I wasn't eating until about an hour before bed time so I easily shrugged off the impulse. As usual, I had no acute hunger the next morning (yesterday.)

BUT something interesting happened. At mid-day I made myself a weekend-style breakfast of 3 pieces of bacon, 3 eggs fried in the bacon fat and a large serving (more than a cup but less than 2 I think) of the rice/veg dish which I added to the skillet for a swim in the bacon fat. I actually started the breakfast with 2/3 cup home-made yogurt and a banana. So I think we can all agree it was a huge feed of nutrients. Unfortunately, it didn't turn off my impulse to eat--I was just as "hungry" when I finished the meal as when I started. 

In my binge-eating career, this was how all serious binges started, by eating what should have been a large satiating meal but finding myself totally crazy with an urge to eat junk. So, I found myself thinking this might be it--after a year of healthy eating with splurges here and there I may be about to drive to the store and buy armfuls of junk. Drum roll ... 

What I DID do was make myself a 4-5 cup leafy salad and I ate a whole grapefruit plus the salad. And here's the REALLY weird thing. After I ate this second meal, with more food volume but much lower caloric/energy value than the breakfast I'd eaten an hour previously, the lizard brain impulse to binge WAS STILL THERE but my stomach/gut were so stuffed I found it incredibly easy to do nothing. Over the course of 2 hours the over-stuffed feeling gradually faded and so did the urge to binge. 

This morning I woke up feeling great, not to mention "lean and mean." All physical indications are that I actually lost some weight overnight which makes sense on 2 fronts--one, recent emptying of some fat cells could very well be what triggered the binge impulse and two, when you look at what I actually ate yesterday it was within my normal range of a day's food (just a little out of sequence) and I had been calorie-restricted the previous day. 

So here I am, learning more and more about my body's signals and responses. I'm eating normally today (Sunday) and Monday will be another coffee-only fast and THEN I'll be very interested in how my body responds on Tuesday. Will it be a normal day of eating or will I again have "binge fever" and need to make an extra-large salad to make the lizard brain happy?


  1. My experience has been that eating one SAD meal doesn't cause problems, but if I string multiple meals together, I get in trouble. I let things go a bit too much over the holidays and completely relapsed to my old way of eating.

    I got back on track over MLK weekend, but then went back and forth a couple more times to see what was actually going on. I found that it really took 4 days of clean eating before the lizard brain cravings were completely extinguished for me.

    It was an expensive couple of experiments (gained 20 lbs over two months) but ultimately I learned a lot. First, relapse is always there (why I need to eat nutrient dense food and practice my meditation). But second, relapse doesn't need to mean slip sliding all the way back to my top weight. I can stop it with a few days of vigilance!

    1. Hi, Beth! I totally agree that relapse is always there but at you and I have learned some tricks on how to outsmart the lizard brain, right? One thing that's definitely different for me now is that I've lost my fear of relapses and I feel safe enough to experiment. I give quality nutrition the credit for that.

      I hope things settle for you and you have a healthy spring!

    2. I think losing fear of relapses is really, really valuable. And I'm settled now so all is good. It's going to be 80 degrees here in DC this week ... what a spring!

  2. Oh, one other thing. You may want to consider experimenting with exercise when the urge to binge hits. The behaviorist at the weight loss practice I attend pointed out to me that when stressed, animals need to expend energy and if they can't fight or flight (think dog in a thunderstorm), they'll actually shake.

    I experienced this myself last May when I had a major league stressor at work just before my BBS session. Interestingly enough, a half-hour workout did eliminate that craving. Just a thought!

    1. Thanks! I've tried exercise before and it didn't help but who's to say it would still fail now? I'll remember the thought for next time (a member of my family is in something of a self-destructive spiral so sadly there will probably be a next time.)

    2. I think the trick to it working is that it has to be of sufficient duration and intensity. And you have to be of a mind to try it. The last week of May I had an even more major trigger and wound up going with three Tanqueray's and lite lemonade ;).