Binge Eating in a Post-Stomach World

10X100: Day Two

Photo by Ethan Sexton on Unsplash

I can’t binge eat anymore. At least not the actual eating part. It’s physically impossible.

That is what weight loss surgery did for me. It’s a very real, hard stop on eating. I only have about 20 percent of my stomach left. It’s not stretchy at all, like a non-sleeved stomach is. That means that full means full.

Full means uncomfortable, to the point of pain.

It’s actually kind of weird. Because that feeling? That’s the post-binge feeling. And whether or not I actually binged, that feeling always makes me feel the way a binge did. Shame. Weakness. Out of control.

What weight loss surgery didn’t do was remove what was behind binging. Poor self-esteem. An addictive pattern of eating. A long history, going back to childhood, of self-harming with food.

So, it’s like the binging is still there — it just doesn’t involve as many calories. The compulsion. The shame. The rituals. The reasons. They’re all still there.

Sometimes I binged to fill an emptiness inside me. Sometimes I hid food so I wouldn’t have to share it. Sometimes I ate because I couldn’t not eat.

Sometimes, though? Sometimes I just wanted to eat. I like food. I love to cook. And weight loss surgery didn’t take that away either.

Yesterday, I kept track of my eating with My Fitness Pal. That was my 100 day agreement with myself. So, good news that I didn’t blow it on day one.

Yesterday was also a rare occasion where practically everyone was out at dinner time and I didn’t have to cook. I went to the grocery store, rented something from Redbox, and bought some things from the deli and the olive bar.

todaro bros.

Especially these little cherry peppers that are stuffed with prosciutto and cheese. They’re so good. Decadent even. According to My Fitness Pal, two of them have 160 calories. I bought four. And some greek olives and marinated mushroom and these chicken wings I like.

A few years ago, I would have binged last night. I would have eaten easily four or five times as much as I did. Not for any negative reason. I wasn’t feeling bad. I wasn’t having a particularly hard-on-myself day. I wasn’t trying to stuff down any thing or fill any empty hole.

I just really like food. And having a night to myself is rare. And it tasted good.

If I have 20 percent of a stomach and I eat 20 percent of a binge — is that a binge?

I ate two of the peppers and a couple of chicken wings. They didn’t sit well in my stomach. I don’t know if it was because they were spicy or maybe I didn’t chew them well enough or maybe I just ate too much.

All I know is that it all came back up. I know that’s too much information, and I’m sorry. But I think this is important. If you’re thinking about weight loss surgery, I think it matters.

It’s not like being sick. Because I wasn’t sick. I didn’t have a virus or food poisoning. My stomach — small as it is — just said nope and ejected what I’d eaten.

I hate throwing up. It scares me. I’ve often thought that was a good thing, because it kept binging from going to full-on bulimia when I was younger. I hate how it makes me feel that I ate enough to make my body need to spontaneously purge.

I ate 1500 calories yesterday. That’s not binging. Not technically, anyway.

What I need to learn is how to not eat to that pain point. How to stop eating fast, because (usually, unconsciously, but not always) I know that I can eat more if I outrun the full feeling. How to eat meals instead of grazing — because I can eat a whole box of crackers or cookies or tub of movie popcorn as long as I eat it over a long time.

Just having a smaller stomach isn’t enough to stop the non-eating parts of binging. That’s what I’m still learning, three years out.

Today’s ten minutes of exercise: ten minutes of walking up and down the stairs. I looked like a fool. I’m going to have to toughen up and go out in the cold. Tomorrow.

I made you something to help, if you want to do this 10X100 thing with me.

Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She is an out-of-place Nevadan living in Northwestern PA with her husband, three superstar kids, two dementia patients, a good friend, Alfred the cat, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes and is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation and the upcoming novel The Astonishing Maybe. She is the original Ninja Writer.