On ‘Overcoming Overeating’

I am so excited – I’m going to a group run by the author’s of Overcoming Overeating, a book that gave me great comfort 30+ years ago in college, when my eating disorder owned me, and I was lost and terrified.

The authors recommend a new way to live which dumps dieting and involves legalizing all food — carrot sticks are not any better or worse than carrot cake. No food is forbidden (allergies and moral commitments aside, of course. If peanuts will kill you, don’t eat them. If you don’t eat animal products, you don’t have to start).

They also tell you to stock up on all your favorite foods in quantities so vast you couldn’t possibly eat them in one sitting.If you adore dark chocolate, don’t buy one chocolate bar, buy ten. If you love carrot cake, don’t buy one cake, buy three so you can keep two in the freezer. If you like crusty bread, buy a few loaves. If you want the whole soy milk instead of the light, buy it! Cashews and almonds—buy the family sized packages.

And then eat small portions of exactly what you want when you are hungry and stop. When you are hungry again, eat small portions of exactly what you want – whether it is an apple or an apple pie.

I know a lot of women that plan this just doesn’t work for – eating sugar and white flour trigger compulsive eating/bingeing. For me, it doesn’t work to eat so frequently – I don’t want to be involved with food that much.

And when I was in the throes of compulsive eating and bingeing and purging, it plain didn’t work for me to have all that ‘binge’ food around. I ate it. All of it.

What I did learn is how little it takes to satiate my appetite. It’s where I learned that small portions work well for me. I don’t even do things like eat tons of raw veggies, because I don’t need that much food. It’s not about quantity for me.

And the process talks about eating when hungry and stopping when full. I actually had a much easier time stopping after a small portion then figuring out what it felt like to be hungry.

During my bulimic years, I ate so much, I was never hungry. While anorexic and eating cotton balls to fill me up, I denied my hunger. I told myself that the constant churning in my stomach was anxiety or exhaustion.

When I showed up at Overcoming Overeating meetings, it took me a while to figure out what hunger was. Eventually I did. And that proved extremely helpful.

So, some things worked for me, some parts of their plan didn’t. But I can’t wait to go to the meeting and see how it seems to me now, at this point in my recovery.

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If You Don’t Have Something Nice to Say…

A friend recently told me that I shouldn’t show so much teeth in photos. I do have a big toothy smile, but I didn’t realize it was so unattractive.

Turns out, it’s not my teeth that are the real problem – the problem is that when I smile so wide, my laugh lines are very prominent, and I look older. Okay.

Another friend pointed out that with my weight gain, I need new bras, because the girls are popping out noticeably. Apparently, it now looks like I have four breasts, not two.

I KNOW I need new bras, but I despise bra shopping and don’t feel like spending the money right now. Stop looking at my boobs!

Also, sales people, stop offering me wrinkle cream and slimming black slacks. Hairdressers, I don’t care that blonde ages me.

The ONLY recommendation I want is from my bookseller 🙂 She’s welcome to offer me anything. The more suggestions, the better.

Other than that, unless you’re complimenting my big green eyes, keep it to yourself.

Inherited Fat-ism

I POSTED THIS LAST YEAR ON MY PREVIOUS BLOG. I’M RE-POSTING IT BECAUSE MY NEXT POST IS TO PARENTS; HOW TO DEAL WITH AN EATING DISORDERED CHILD.

In my mother’s house, prejudice was not allowed. Everyone was welcome, no matter your color, creed, gender, sexual preference, sexual identity, religion… Many, many took refuge and found haven and solace in our home’s open doors.

Well, actually, there remained one “small” area where prejudice was accepted. My mother hated fat. First and foremost, she hated fat on herself. She was always on some kind of diet. Mom used to make my sister take food away from her and throw it out, so she wouldn’t eat it. When she was dying and wasting away, the doctor begged her to eat more, to eat sugar, to have salt to retain water, to try; my mother flatly refused – she loved being skinny.

Funny how much it meant to her, considering everything else she achieved. My mother was brilliant, graduating high school at 15. She was also a brilliant pianist who attended Juilliard, paying her own way by teaching piano lessons, beginning when she was 12. By the time we kids came along, Mom had a huge following of advanced students who traveled from all around the country to study with her.

Everyone loved her, men adored her and yet, my mother ferociously hated every extra ounce of flesh she carried. She also hated extra weight on others, including me. She dragged young me from diet doctors to Weight Watchers to behavior modification specialists to diet centers. Together, we tried every diet we could find. (She always lost weight. Somehow, I always gained.)

Mom didn’t like fat on anyone. She took umbrage with celebrities who weren’t skinny – why did anyone think Diane Sawyer was pretty when she had wide hips (according to Mom)? I remember seeing James Earl Jones as Othello on Broadway. Evidently, she’d read he was on the same diet as she – she was very annoyed that he was still so big. Mom was a woman who didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone – unless they were overweight.

Fat-ism is crazy strong, I think. All her life, my mother purposely chose to be and do everything the exact opposite of her mother. My grandmother was cruel, viciously racist, a serious gossip, completely domestic, disinterested in education, subservient to her husband…..

My mother consciously became the total and complete opposite of each of those traits.

However, my grandmother hated fat and fat people. That, my mother never changed.

The End of Bulimia cont…

So, I stopped purging. I couldn’t physically or emotionally do it anymore.

And I did gain weight. However, I’d already been gaining weight for a while. I’d been binging so heavily, even purging didn’t keep the weight off.

At that point, when I couldn’t purge another day, I just gave up. I surrendered. I couldn’t go on the way I had been, and I didn’t really care about controlling my weight anymore. I COULDN’T TAKE IT! I’d been MISERABLE skinny and starving and BEYOND MISERABLE as a bulimic. What could be worse?

As I said, I did gain some weight. But the binging pretty much tapered off too. I suppose the fear of gaining massive weight (now that I’d stopped purging)helped.

But also, as I said, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was done, finished, I gave up fighting and starving and binging and trying to control the whole situation.

Once I did that, I began to get free.

And eventually, I began to eat regularly and moderately and the extra weight came off. (I maintained that weight for many years. If you’ve been reading the blog, you know that perimenopause has added ten pounds, and I’m ok with that.)

Starving, binging, purging, starving, binging, purging, starving, binging purging – that way of life – well, it really wasn’t a life at all.

Stopping the behavior (even gaining a few pounds)and finding a real life — that’s worth anything and everything.

The End of Bulimia

When I stopped throwing up about 13 years ago, I was truly done. I could not take another minute of stuffing my face and then spending the night hanging over a toilet. I’d developed an ulcer and vomiting became excruciating, but still I continued for years. The side effects of years of throwing up and laxative abuse caused such damage to my body, from my intestines to my (missing) teeth. There were minor cosmetic issues – puffy cheeks and angry red bite marks on the knuckles of my right hand. And of course, explosive diarrhea could be embarrassing too.

Whoops, I posted this too soon. But I’ll leave it up and finish it later. The end of purging made a huge shift in my life.

Changing a Bad Mood

Sooo, the 12 Steps insist that when I’m feeling blue or depressed or SORRY FOR MYSELF, I need to get out of myself and help someone else.

Sooo, I was having a yummy little pity party (if you’re worried, don’t – there was no rational reason. but I’m not always rational!), when someone who heard me speak in Pennsylvania six months ago called and said she was really struggling and wondered if we could speak. She said she’d been shy to call because I seemed so “together”. First of all, hahahhahahahha. If she could have seen me moments before she called, singing the blues and Second of all, of course I had time.

I hope she got something out of her conversation. She said it was helpful and asked if she could call again.

However, we know who really benefited from leaving her elaborate pity party and being of service to someone else!!!

Next up on the blog, my journey out of bulimia.

More on the last post – and Powerlessness

I was just speaking with a friend about my birth control pill dilemma, and realized I have two choices – take the pill with those side effects/consequences or continue to get my period very frequently and deal with those side effects/consequences.

And that’s it – those are my choices. Door A or Door B. There is no Door C. I don’t get what I want – a regular easy, breezy monthly cycle. Or a nice easy, breezy end of menstruation.

As with most things, I have no power over menopause! I just have a choice.

Who knew you could apply the 12 Steps to the menstrual cycle?