How someone defines a binge is a very personal matter. One person might describe it in terms of the quantities of food eaten in a short time span. Another person might consider that eating certain kinds of foods constitutes a binge, regardless of the amount or time frame. Occasionally, a person will label eating just a tiny quantity of a "forbidden '' food to be a binge, like one piece of candy, or a spoonful of ice cream. It all depends on the person's interpretation.
Note that overeating in and of itself does not lead to bulimia. Some binges are just splurges, mini self-indulgences that are fun and filled with the appreciation of food and the people with whom you share it. Some are opportunities to let off steam, reward yourself for an accomplishment, take a break in your routine, or give yourself a tirne-out from tedium. If you know why you're eating in this way, you don't follow the binge by a purge, or you don't find that occasional overeating or splurging interferes with how you live your life or think about your self-worth, your binge is not bulimic behavior.
Generally speaking, bulimic binges are terrifying, out-of-control experiences that become intense, dominant, negative forces in your life. They hurt physically, are increasingly habit-forming, and are often accompanied by feelings of self-loathing. They are typically followed by a purge of some sort.
A binge is something I do because I have to, not because I want to. A binge is like some medieval torturer subjecting me to things I wouldn't allow done to myself if I could help it
A binge? A binge is eating and not tasting. I feel like a trash compactor—shovel it in, smash it, throw it out Over and over, the same thing. I waste a lot of time and energy on this and I wish I didn't have to.
Every aspect of the binge-purge cycle can make you feel guilty, depressed, and/or out of control. You can feel angry, spacey ("zoned out")/ nervous, disgusted with yourself, panicky, lonely, and inadequate before, during, and after a binge and/or purge episode. These feelings are very difficult to shake off, and might even propel you into your next binge, in an endless cycle of self-abuse.
Are You Bulimic?
A Checklist of Bulimic Behavior and Self-Talk
Do any of the following statements apply to you?
• My life would be better than it is now if I were thin.
• I'd be more sociable and popular if I were thin.
• I rarely know when I'm hungry or when I'm full.
• I spend a lot of money each week on foods that most people consider "unhealthy" or "junk."
• I would consider stealing food or money if I didn't have enough money to buy the binge foods.
• I binge on large amounts of food that I eat rapidly and may not even really taste.
• I eat until I'm too exhausted to continue or it hurts too much to continue.
• I'm uncomfortable eating in public; I have trouble doing so.
• I'm afraid that if I order what I want at a restaurant, people will think bad things about me.
• I control my weight by purging.
• I don't think it's a problem if I make myself throw up once in a while; many of my friends do it.
• I deal with a lot of the tension in my life by bingeing and purging.
• Food dominates and maybe even controls rny life.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but includes many typical thoughts and behaviors of bulimics and the situations in which they find themselves. If your sense is that, "This is me!" you might be in the process of developing or may already have developed bulimia. Use the list as a way to pinpoint areas of particular concern, and to help you describe your situation when and if you choose to get professional help.
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