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Confessions of a Borderline Binge Eater

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Is Bingeing in My Genes?

Back at my apartment, I come across a recent study that says overeating may be genetic: Researchers at the University of Buffalo found that people with genetically fewer receptors for the feel-good chemical dopamine find food more rewarding than do people without that genotype. Two of my aunts had weight issues -- they both underwent gastric bypass surgery. I wonder if I'm feeling the effects of my family tree. I'd prefer, however, to believe that binge eating is ultimately my own decision -- albeit a very bad one -- and therefore within my grasp to control.

I don't like feeling guilty or fat. I don't like moving my boyfriend's hand off my stomach after a big meal because I'm embarrassed for him to touch it. As with most problems, bingeing can't be fixed overnight. "I tell my patients that this is more about persistence in their effort than quitting cold turkey," Binks says. "It takes time to analyze your eating pattern and figure out how to overcome it."

A week later, during dinner with my boyfriend, I get up from the table for an extra helping of potatoes from the stove. Channeling Matz, I stop and ask myself if I'm hungry. The answer is no, so I sit back down and finish telling him about my day, proud of not eating simply to eat. One small step, but at least it's in the right direction.

It's now been a month since my self-imposed intervention, and though it's a daily struggle, I am slowly gaining control over my eating. I no longer look at foods as good or bad -- the way Matz says we're conditioned to do -- which helps me feel less guilty if I order french fries instead of a salad. This has actually curbed my cravings, because I know I can indulge if I choose. Mexican food is still my kryptonite, but I'm becoming convinced it's simply a bad habit: I've been overeating at Mexican restaurants for so long, my hands are practically programmed to shovel food into my mouth upon arrival. So I've set to work making some modifications: half-portion servings, one less margarita and, oh yes, my guy's hand romantically resting on my hip before any bingeing occurs, to remind me I'd rather feel sexy than bloated.

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erinmac2013 wrote:

I don't enjoy binge eating in the moment and I feel ashamed of myself afterwards. I want to get better. I have pinpointed the feeling of doing it as loneliness, anxiety or guilt about giving myself time to just sit and do nothing. Eating is an activity, it distracts me from my feelings. I want to work on allowing myself to just feel those feelings. It makes me feel less alone to know that other people struggle with this problem.

10/20/2013 07:17:14 AM Report Abuse
erinmac2013 wrote:

This story is very inspiring to read. I am twenty-one years old and have been binge eating for the past four years twice a week. I am considered a lean person (5'8, 128lbs) so when I tell people that I binge eat they assume that I have a disordered image of eating. Last night, I ate a normal dinner of tofu and salad, a piece of pizza, 2 calzones, a hot chocolate and a large bowl of chocolate chips. While I did this, I felt completely out of control.

10/20/2013 07:17:02 AM Report Abuse
dswilliams65 wrote:

I was a binge eater as a teen, a bulimic borderlining on anorexia in my 20's, and now in my 40's I'm back to binge eating. Guilt, self-hate, disgust, misery, fear of looking in the mirror.... Thanks for sharing your story; it's nice to know I am not alone.

2/25/2013 07:11:50 PM Report Abuse
crazydreams1 wrote:

I loved this article! I became aware of my binge eating after eatin 2 cookies, a muffin, and chips all in 30 minutes. The advice here sounds wonderfulk and i cant wait to try it out for myself!!

5/4/2012 06:31:47 PM Report Abuse
a3984502 wrote:

Right now I am following the Diet Plan for You blog by nutrition specialist Kate Hill. Kate helped me lose weight in a healthy way in few weeks, without starving! If you want to lose weight, just visit Kate's blog at:

3/4/2012 03:28:03 AM Report Abuse

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