Recovery from Binge-Eating … What it isn’t, what it is

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What recovery from binge-eating isn’t …

Many years ago, while I was still in the worst throes of compulsively binge-eating, I defined recovery from binge-eating quite differently than I would today.

At the top of my what-is-recovery list back then … being permanently “thin” (with its false promise of never-ending happiness and instant success at whatever I tried). Being thin meant I could do anything and everything I wanted.

Next, the ability to eat my favorite foods without bingeing on or obsessing about them, an idea fed by the everything-in-moderation fantasy, which for some people can actually become reality. (I learned I am not one of these fortunate souls.)

I also wanted to be able to binge-eat about once a month with no consequences — that is, no weight gain, no bloating, no hangover and most important, the ability to stop the next day. This shows how little I actually knew about the progressive nature of binge-eating disorder.

And finally, I would have wanted to stop obsessively focusing on what I weighed, should weigh, could weigh and might weigh if I could only … (stay on a diet, actually get to goal weight, control my portions, not feel like a failure, and so on).

Back then, none of the above would have been so clearly stated, given the mental fog I lived in much of the time. But taken together, they indicate how much I wanted to literally have my cake and eat it too.

What recovery from binge-eating is … to me now!

And now, my current definition of recovery includes just one of the above.

First, I see recovery as an ongoing process, and not a goal to reach one day and then I’m done. Recovery isn’t like winning a trophy – it’s something I experience on a daily basis in all aspects of my life, and not just the food I eat.

Second, instead of wanting to be permanently “thin,” I have reached a place of size stability, which means I can comfortably fit into the same clothes I wore over a dozen years ago. I haven’t kept most of them around, but the things I really like are still in my closet. So recovery means my body size no longer yoyos up and down. And, I can shop in most “average” stores. Back in the day, there were no fashionable clothes for anyone who dared to be a size 14 or higher.

Third, I do eat my favorite foods – but those have changed. I learned over time that some foods for me are like alcohol to the alcoholic, and I cannot handle them (e.g., sugar and white flour). So I have let them go. And to be honest, if they didn’t have such a negative crazy-making impact on me, I’d still keep them around because they do taste good. But recovery now means I prize sanity and stability over a sugar high.

I’d still love to be able to binge every so often and be able to stop, but I have tried this over the years without success. In fact, my efforts led to some serious relapses. And so that one has had to go too. Recovery means accepting what is true for me. And the truth is, I can’t handle a binge. Another truth – I love recovery!

Recovery also means (still) that I have stopped worrying about what I weigh. I actually do not remember the last time I stepped on a scale. It is a number I wonder about sometimes. But as long as I keep eating a certain way and fitting comfortably into my clothes, the wondering doesn’t last more than a few seconds.

And finally, recovery for me now goes way beyond food, eating, weight, size and appearance. It’s a state of mind, and of being, where I pay attention to my thoughts and feelings and spirit. Recovery is where I get to choose how to live my life on a daily basis.

What is recovery to you?

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