Confessions of a Borderline Binge Eater
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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