One of the consequences of food allergies is nutrient deprivation. And one of the side affects of nutrient deprivation is binging.
For years I had food allergies without realizing it. During that time I became increasingly nutrient deprived. Because I was nutrient starved, I began to binge eat. At that point, I was 13 going on 14, which is a pretty common age to begin a disordered relationship with food, so I assumed that this was an emotional problem, not a physical problem, and I blamed myself.
I thought my tendency to binge eat meant a lot of things about me. I thought it meant that I was weak. That I had no self control. Because I was doing this to myself. I thought that I had no one to blame but myself. I thought I deserved everything I got. That I deserved to feel the way that I felt: completely out of control, filled with shame, regret, uncomfortably full, and yet still ravenous. And all the well meant guidance and advice from other people about portion control and weight management just served to cement my erroneous and damaging idea that my desires and instincts were fundamentally wrong and therefore, untrustworthy.
So imagine my surprise once I finally stopped eating all the foods that I’m allergic to, I also lost the need to binge. I remember it vividly. All of sudden, there was an absence where there had been constant struggle. And in that space I began to learn how to listen to myself and I began to learn to trust my hungers.
It was intensely freeing. I relaxed in places I didn’t know I was tight.
From the outside it could have seemed like I had magically gained some self control and discipline. But that wasn’t it at all. It was just that the reason I was binging was gone.
So what was that reason? The short story it this: Because of my food allergies, the villi in my small intestine were dulled and damaged and so they could not absorb the nutrients that I was eating. So I while I ate and ate until I felt like I could burst, my body got very little. So, I was never satisfied and I was always hungry.
Never mind the physical consequences of finding a way to stop binging (weight loss was the most notable) the real transformation for me, was emotional and mental.
I stopped seeing myself, or more accurately, I began to stop seeing myself as a weak person who couldn’t manage herself. I stopped seeing myself as a woman who’s desires were so overwhelming that I couldn’t help but give in every time. And I started seeing myself as a strong woman who’s appetite and desires are both things to trust and to listen to. That shift was phenomenally important for me.
This is an important point that I didn’t get to make more of in the video: sometimes, most times, the urge to binge is your body trying to tell you something. Instead of wasting years, like me, feeling like you are wrong, and that your body is betraying you. Instead of spending time, like I did, wrapped up in shame about your lack of self control. Try to see it as your body trying to communicate with you the only way that it can. This is hard to do. You probably learned, like me, not to trust yourself a long time ago. But my best advice to you and to myself is this: Trust yourself and try to listen anyway. It’s worth it.
A book that I used to read and reread regularly to help me with the emotional roller coaster that is trying to suppress the insuppressible is ‘Appetites: Why Women Want’ by Caroline Knapp. I highly recommend it.
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Filed in: Lifestyle
About the Author (Author Profile)Lillian's Test Kitchen is an online cooking web series. The recipes in this series are always grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and cane sugar-free. The recipes are also all (at this point) paleo. Some are vegan. Some are raw. I use the best ingredients I can find (and afford). But Lillian's Test Kitchen is not so much about food as it is about the experience of trying something you have never tried before and then finding the joy, comedy and laughter in those small moments in spite of and also often, because of dietary restrictions. My goal is to inspire others to take their health into their own hands and make their own food.
Sites That Link to this Post
- What’s Your GratiTUDE? Day 27 : Lillian's Test Kitchen | November 9, 2012
- Breaking Open | Eat, Recycle, Repeat | November 18, 2012