Binge Eating Disorder and Me

Binge eating disorder. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to realize about myself was that I had let my relationship with food become so… broken. I won’t outline the specifics of BED here, but there is additional information and suggestions for support here. My goal is to fix my relationship with food, and my tool is Soylent.

About Me:

I’m obese, weighing in at 330 pounds last time I checked. In truth, it’s a fairly recent addition to my life, as I was 200 pounds (or less) as little as 6 years ago. This journey is about so much more than weight loss, but I will be tracking my weight starting at the arrival of my Soylent package.

I realized fairly recently that I use binge eating as a means of avoiding stress, avoiding decisions,  avoiding social obligations, and ultimately hiding from my life. Stressful day? Eat an entire pizza. Celebrating a complete project? Same answer. Don’t want to worry about dinner tonight? Go to McDonalds… and since I’m here I’ll get some extras “for later”.

The first time I really and truly realized that something was amiss with myself was the first time that I lied to defend my eating habits; claiming that I was ordering for two (or even three) people or going to two different restaurants in one evening to avoid having to explain ordering so much food. That worry only really served to plunge me deeper into shame spirals and eventually I was skipping classes and work because I’d rather eat whatever I wanted while my roommates weren’t around to judge me.

I’ll leave it to psychiatrists and/or those with more wisdom to analyze why it took me so long to truly identify my behavior as unacceptable and that a change was needed. It always seemed like I was just “going through something right now” and I could be back on track as soon as things got “normal”. As a result of my constant binging, my diet and nutrition over the past few years is nothing short of shocking. I’m too embarrassed to even spend time reflecting on the specifics of the things I’ve done to my body. Long story short, I have arrived at a place where change is no longer a desire, but a necessity.

Where Soylent comes in:

I’ve made the decision to change my diet and lifestyle many times over the past few years. All attempts have ended in failure… Much of this is a result of my crippling perfectionism, that is to say “inability to stick to anything if I stumble even slightly”. A single backslide, or a single company BBQ was enough for me to justify devouring a whole pizza later that day “since I already goofed it up”. Trying to balance my diet and achieve some level of nutrition always seems to end up with me back at the pizzeria and wondering when I decided to give up on my diet. Some kind of justification had slipped through and then broke the dam before I could figure out what happened.

I’m quite excited at the prospect of removing food from my life (though I have no illusions that it won’t be a tremendous challenge). There won’t be a balance; there won’t be an attempt to control habits. I’m stopping the system. After working in IT for a good chunk of my life, there’s one simple thing that often works when it comes to technology: turn off the machine and restart it. If someone’s having a problem, that’s the first thing I advise. So it’s time to apply that concept to my life. So removing food as a factor from my life altogether (starting with 3 weeks) will serve as my system restart

The financial decision:

In the end, my curiosity was enough to make me want to try this experiment, but the financial effects it would have in my life pushed it to the top of my list. For someone who spends a reasonable amount of money on food, Soylent can save quite a bit. But for someone like me who (to my shame) has spent an entire days budget (or more) on one meal, it marks an exciting money saving opportunity.

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Arriving tomorrow!

My Soylent should be here by tomorrow! I’ll be at work all day, but if I miss the truck I can swing by Kinkos later in the evening to pick it up (I think). I’m getting pretty jazzed to start this up. Today, I just wanted to spend a minute making sure I know what my plans are for weight tracking and back up plans.

Overview:

Each day, I’ll be tracking three major avenues of progress: weight, energy, and craving.

I’ll be charting my weight loss but will probably not give overly frequent updates on it (because I’ll be trying not to dwell on it too much since it’ll be merely a side effect of this lifestyle change).

The most important factor is energy. I’ve always been a low energy person. Napping excites me more than most adventures. So I’ll report on how I “feel” as I go. This is an area where I hope to see great improvement. I’ll also be spending at least 30 minutes at the gym after work every day and sneaking over to the university swim center on my lunch breaks (hopefully at least 3 times a week). I’ll report on my energy levels before, during, and after.

By craving, what I really mean is “how hard it is to maintain a Soylent only diet.” If I feel like I’m starving myself, I will have some frozen veggies just to prevent backslides, but my hope is that the balance of nutrition and high fiber will leave me just “wanting” some of my usual bad choice foods, not feeling like I “need” something solid. To clarify, the frozen veggies are meant as a last stitch thing, an alternative if I reach the end of my rope.

Ordered! … and some resistance

Ordering was simple and quick. Nothing really to note about it, apparently all the difficulty of obtaining Soylent is a thing of the past. No wait-lists, just Soylent 1.5 on it’s way to my place after a few simple clicks. AWESOME.

There was, however, a bit of fallout from telling the people closest to me about my intentions.

I expected a little bit of resistance. After all, I won’t be joining people for lunch anymore and the “Tap-a-Keg” Tuesday tradition at the local Ale House is going to be one that I’ll start sitting out. These are some of my only social interactions, and I worry about finding healthier avenues for socialization.

I was genuinely surprised how many people called it “a desperate move” or called Soylent “a fad that won’t change anything”. Mildly discouraging, but I was able to show them the logic that led to this decision and make halfhearted justifications claiming that I was treating it as “experimental”.
All this without telling them that the real reason is to try and overcome BED, (too embarassing). I imagine that people heard me say I was starting a food alternative called Soylent and they just pictured me doing a long term juice cleanse or something. But that’s not what this is. I like the idea of losing some weight, but more than anything I just want to stop the intense damage I’ve been doing to my body over the last several years. I feel like I’m 25 going on 60 most of the time.

Worst case scenario (the way I see it) is that my body doesn’t get the things it needs (which it hasn’t been anyway because of my maltreatment) and I’ve spent LESS money and made no real improvement. Not so bad.

I have to say though; I feel like Soylent is a pillar of change that I can really build around. The omnipresence of food as a factor in my life just makes any decision to improve feel impossible… But the concept of eliminating food as a neccessity is just too appealing not to try. The end goal is not to be on a Soylent only diet forever, but to use it as a tool to eliminate my horrible relationship with food and eating, and maybe incrementally attempt to forge a new relationship with it.