Thursday, May 22, 2008

Binge: what does it mean to you?

Yesterday I managed to resist Lamar's donuts, which were brought in by a coworker. For those of you who aren't familiar with Lamar's, it's probably better that you don't know how delicious they are. There were one dozen donuts at the beginning of the day. By 4 pm, there was one left. One lonely donut staring out of the box. Of course, the treat table is right by the refrigerator where I store my afternoon snack, so I had to look into its poor little donut eyes, just begging me to eat it. But I didn't. Angie and I have still been making our daily promise to stay on track, and I didn't want to break my word.

Fast forward to today. Angie wanted to take the day off from promise making, which I understand. In the back of my head, though, I still promised myself that I would stay on track.

Do you remember the episode of Seinfeld where Elaine has to contend with birthday cake every day at her job? Welcome to my world. Today it's coffee cake. Usually, my strategy is just to stay the hell away from the treat table. Simple geography- out of sight, out of mind. Except today, it wasn't out of mind. In fact, it's all that was on my mind. Eventually, I rationalized that the path to many of my previous binges (if you can even call them that) was denying myself a small amount of what I really wanted in the first place. So, I decided to just go try a bite of the damn coffee cake. This was getting silly.

That one bite was really delicious. In fact, it tasted so good that I cut myself a small slice. That slice was so wonderful that I had another. I tried to savor each bite, knowing that a binge eater wolfs down her food too quickly and gets little or no enjoyment from the process. Those two slices were gone pretty fast, though.

Was this a binge? What defines a binge, anyway? I thought I was clear on this, but I'm reading a book on the subject, and now I'm not so sure. Some experts define it in terms of the volume of food consumed, and some refer to the speed of the act. Others take into account the "loss of control" factor. There's no real definition... no real diagnosis.

Now I'm sitting here analyzing whether eating two stupid pieces of coffee cake was a binge or not. It's kind of ridiculous. Do I feel like it was too much? Yeah, probably. Was I out of control when I was eating it? No, I don't think so. Do I feel guilty now? Yup, a little, but it's not the end of the world. Do I overthink these things? DEFINITELY.

I'd really love to hear from you readers on this. What does binge mean to you? If you've had eating problems in the past, did you binge? What on? If you've never had an eating problem, I'd like your opinion too.


Kat's Mom said...


In my opinion- you and coffee cake today- not a binge. Nope.

I am no expert on the subject, but from my experience, binge equals completely going for it, eating something heavily calorie laden, consciously, until it only exists on the inside of your stomach. A binge is more like an entire large bag of potato chips, or half a bag of Hershey's Miniature chocolates (one of my favorite 10pm binges. Produces tremendous amounts of guilt and a heavy feeling in the stomach well into the next day!)

I think having something off plan has to happen once in a while. Actually, I think acknowledging the food's presence and having a bit is good for keeping the "I'm deprived" beasties at bay.

So, here's to a bit of coffee cake and after work runs!

MaryFran said...

To me a binge is when I've totally lost control of my eating. Eating whatever I want and KNOWING that I shouldn't be eating buy losing that control and being seemingly unable to control the urge to eat and continue to eat.

LA said...

I would call your coffee cake thing a misstep, or a splurge, but definitely not a binge.

A binge for me sometimes starts out with me saying, "I'm only going to eat half of this donut", then I eat the other half, then I have another donut, and then I say "eff it! I've already blown it" and I get out the ice cream and melt chocolate chips to put on top of it, then hit the potato chips, then back to the ice cream, then back to the chips...

You handled the coffee cake well, m'dear. Don't sweat it!

G.G. said...

I'd agree that two slices of coffee cake is not a binge, esp. if you feel you didn't lose control. Even't if you did feel like you lost control, you still stopped at a relatively reasonable amount of food.

Sometimes I just overeat, and sometimes I binge. Usually, for me, a binge is defined by a loss of control, but it's also tied up in quantity, too. If I "lose control" (meaning I ate more that I wanted to eat, or more than my level of hunger justified), but if I can manage to limit it to, let's say, two slices of coffee cake instead of the whole thing, then I probably wouldn't consider it a bings--just a warning sign that I need to be more careful about my choices.

To be honest, the one characteristic that I do identify with binge behavior is a genuine loss of enjoyment--not pleasure in the food, because there's a dirty kind of sensual gratification I can get when I'm binging (as in, "oh god those Reese's Cups taste fantastic") but that's really transitory and outweighed by just how rotten I feel when I'm done (physically and mentally). This is opposed to the pleasure I might get when I let myself indulge in a slab of my Mom's homemade cherry pie topped with vanilla bean ice cream. It tastes good, it feels good, it reminds me of pleasant memories, and that indulgence will become a good memory, itself. A binge experience is not one I can remember with warm fuzzy feelings, whereas an occasional overindulgence, I can.

We're all so different though! What's true for me may not be true for someone else, and may not be true for me two years down the road!

Hope I haven't gone into too much detail (I'm trying to cut back on that when I comment)--but you did ask . . . .

Janet said...

I've been good on my diet for over 2 months - not one cheat. Last night I went out for dinner and decided to treat myself to whatever I wanted. I deserved it, right? But then after we got home, while my husband was driving the sitter home, I said to myself -"oh well, today is already messed up" So I got a spoon, and the peanut butter and some chocolate and I went to town (even though I was still full from dinner)... and then I ate some cookies, I've been craving for a while but hadn't let myself have...and then I popped in a piece of toast, and spread honey on it (cuz I LOVE that, and I usually won't let myself...)

THAT was a binge! I think what made it a binge (for me) was two things (1) I wasn't hungry, and I ate it all anyway and (2) I did it in secret and didn't tell anyone (well until now)...

2 small pieces of coffee cake - not a binge, that was a controlled treat - BIG difference...

abby suzanne said...

You just ate more than you should have, definately not a binge. I agree you very well could have avoided a binge by eating what you wanted despite the "diet".
I have been through treatment for eating disorders and a binge is a clearly different mental state than just over eating. For me a binge is about numbing my mind and not about yummy cake.