Binge eating disorder & Food addiction 

Beat (formerly the eating disorders association) characterises binge eating disorder as “a serious mental Health illness where people experience a loss of control and over eat on a regular basis”. Wikipedia, web MD and the world health organisation, also classify binge eating disorder similarly. Clearly, people in the know are calling over eating an eating disorder and classifying it and treating it similarly to those eating disorders we traditionally think of when someone mentions the term; bulimia, anorexia nervosa. 
So why is it so many of us seem to take so long to come to the conclusion that they have disordered eating, rather than that they are fat and lazy or simply need to stick to a calorie controlled diet? No one would expect an anorexic to just shut up and go on a calorie controlled diet. For a start no one would expect someone with an eating disorder like anorexia to be able to stick to it, we would expect that they would need structure, treatment and possibly a great deal of intervention. After all- they are killing themselves with a lack of food. But isn’t that what obese people are doing but in reverse? Sure it takes longer and the results don’t seem so dramatic to us, but the truth is that they should be. We are so used to seeing over weight people that someone clearly in pain and eating themselves to death is just a subject of ridicule or an example of no self control. 
And so, I spent my life not really thinking of my problems with food as disordered eating. Sometimes I viewed my body as the enemy, other times I viewed food as the enemy, which leads me neatly onto my next point and why after flirting briefly with the idea of food addiction and treating it as such (in a 12 step programme like overeaters’ anonymous) I came to the conclusion that this was entirely the wrong thing for me to be doing and actually was a contributing factor to my continued struggle.
Firstly, I disagree entirely with the initial premise that over eating behaviours can be looked at in a similar way to addictions to other substances or behaviours like alcohol, sex, gambling, drugs. food is inherently different. Food is vital to our survival, without it we die. People who view over eating as an addiction would argue that it is not food you are addicted to but binge eating or certain foods. The problem I encountered myself was to do with abstinence.
The main goal in any 12 step programme is to achieve abstinence as you begin and continue your journey. With drugs and alcohol or gambling the idea of abstinence is a fairly clear cut one- don’t do it. The waters begin to become more murky with things like food or sex. I read a lot about abstinence during the time I was interested in The 12 step programme. People at meetings, on online groups and in OA’s own book spoke about different ideas of abstinence. I met people with specific ‘addictions’ like cake or chips. For them abstinence meant not eating cake and chips, doing this meant they never over ate. 
This worked for them, so I tried to narrow down my trigger foods, things I would need to abstain from to be abstinent from bingeing. My list was long, and as time went on it became longer. Eventually I was left with quite a large group of foods I wasn’t supposed to eat if I was maintaining abstinence- because you see, my problem was that I wasn’t addicted to food. I had a disordered attitude to food, meaning that my disordered eating could be extended to just about any food, except maybe Kale or something.
Because- the crazy part of my brain understands that the whole thing is about sabotage and self loathing- it can make any food a weapon against me. All you have to do to punish yourself is eat too much food (of any kind) and plug that emptiness in the pit of your core. And by having foods that you are ‘supposed to abstain from’ those foods become all the more attractive to your crazy brain. Not only are they ‘fat person food’ so they contain more calories and will sabotage you more and more quickly but you’ve also been told you can’t have them, double guilt points.
This is why I am trying to make peace with all foods. My partner has quietly been telling me for years that food is inanimate, morally blank and has no intent. It isn’t good or bad, it just is. 
Why the hell didn’t I listen before?
 

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