Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tired of people calling eating more than intended, a binge!

I read it over and over and over and over and it's driving me crazy. People think eating a couple extra
cookies  for the day when they didn't plan for those cookies, is a binge. They will say, "I binged today. Should I skip dinner to make up for it?" Or, "I caved and binged on ice cream today and ended up eating 1800 calories today when I wanted to eat 1400."
That is not a binge ladies and gentlemen. That isn't even overeating necessarily - if you still ate at a loss for the day, you possibly made some poor food choices, but you didn't binge. If you ate over maintenance calories you overate for the day, but you didn't binge.

From an online dictionary:  

binge  (bnj)
1. A drunken spree or revel.
a. A period of unrestrained, immoderate self-indulgence.
b. A period of excessive or uncontrolled indulgence in food or drink: an eating binge.
intr.v. binged, bing·ing or binge·ing, bing·es
1. To be immoderately self-indulgent and unrestrained: "The story is like a fever dream that a disturbed and imaginative city-dweller might have after binging on comics" (Lloyd Rose).
2. To engage in excessive or uncontrolled indulgence in food or drink.

When I saw a counselor about 15 years ago, I started going to talk about my out of control eating. I had just lost the 50 pounds and was gaining back like crazy. I thought I was binging. While I was overeating and gaining rapidly, the therapist said I wasn't binging. Eating a box of donuts over the course of the morning wasn't a binge. It was too much food and it was poor choices, but it wasn't a binge. A binge was out of control massive eating.
From Wikipedia:
Binge eating is a pattern of disordered eating which consists of episodes of uncontrollable eating. It is sometimes as a symptom of binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating disorder. During such binges, a person rapidly consumes an excessive amount of food. Most people who have eating binges try to hide this behavior from others, and often feel ashamed about being overweight or depressed about their overeating. Although people who do not have any eating disorder may occasionally experience episodes of overeating, frequent binge eating is often a symptom of an eating disorder

My therapist said if I had eaten a box of donuts, a pizza, a 6 pack of soda and some ice cream over the course of the morning, that would be a binge, but eating 6-10 donuts over the course of 3-4 hours was not a binge.

But when I go to these weight loss sites, it's not a box of donuts that women especially call a binge. No, they are eating a single cookie. Or an unplanned sundae and then are calling it a binge. That's like calling a single glass of wine a drinking binge.

It annoys me because binging is a serious problem and calling a poor food choice a binge then trivializes those who have true problems with true binging.

Yesterday I had a couple squares of milk chocolate. It wasn't a great choice, but I didn't binge on chocolate. On Sunday, while out with my mentee, I had a chocolate brownie sundae. It took me way over for calories for that day, but it wasn't a binge. 

And yes, at times it can feel like you are out of control with giving into that temptation. It can feel that eating a cup of cashews when you had intended to eat a handful, is scary and out of control, but it's not out of control. Out of control would be truly out of control eating and eating the entire container of nuts and then moving on to something else and then something else and then something else.

I didn't get the whole binge eating thing until I witnessed unabashed binge eating in a dining room cafeteria when I was a residence director. There was a 30 something year old, very thin man who would come in to eat. He was beyond hiding his binges - maybe he hid it from his family by eating at a dining center, but the man would eat three to four full trays of food - every single day. He would mix weird foods together. He would go back for more milk and more sweets. He probably consumed 15000 to 20000 calories in the time we would eat our meal. He would eat until I'm sure he made himself sick and I'm sure he would then purge. Obviously, he suffered from a binge eating disorder/bulimia. That was binging. And that was a binging disorder.

So please people, stop exaggerating your overeating or bad food choices. Call it what it is and move on. And if you find that you are binging, seek help and don't trivialize it.

Stats for 5/31/12

Highest weight: 275  Now: 169.2


  1. People have definitely adopted the word "binge" into everyday, more casual usage. I think it is sad when people describe eating some extra, unplanned treats a binge.... calling it that puts a darkness, a "badness" on the event that isn't deserved. Too many people already have such a poor relationship with food, I agree with you, maybe we should look closer at ourselves when we use that word.

  2. Jeanette - that's a good additional thing. Calling it binging also making it bigger than it is. Making it sound more "horrible" than 'overeating' or "making a bad food choice". It's like calling yourself ugly when you're not ugly - punishing yourself, beating yourself up. How does that help with the problem? It doesn't!

  3. I was a closet binger for years so I definitely differentiate overeating versus binging. I told my boyfriend that there is a difference and he didn't see it that way.