Confessions of a Compulsive Eater
"Why can't I stop eating?"
Thousands of U.S. women ask themselves this question every day as they desperately struggle to gain control over food and lose weight. Excessive eating is the most prevalent eating disorder in our society. While most of us overeat on occasion, and many feel we eat more than we should, food addicts feel powerless to stop the constant cycle of bingeingeating that involves large amounts of food in a short period of time. Such was the case with Cynthia, who struggled in her relationship with food for more than 20 years before she found release and healing. Here's her story.The Editors
I ate the whole pie.
I'd driven to the nearest grocery store that morning where I cruised through the bakery, selecting a cherry pie and a few other items. When I returned to an empty housemy husband was at work and my son was in schoolI started pushing down my loneliness by shoving heaping tablespoons of pie into my mouth. When it was half gone, I hid the rest in our refrigerator vegetable bin and began the housework. At lunchtime, though I wasn't hungry, I nibbled some leftovers. Then, an hour later, I once again stood at the counter, spooning pie into my mouth. If I hurry, I told myself, I'll be able to finish it before the school bus drops my son at the house.
Today I'd eaten an entire pie. A few days ago it was a bag of cookies; before that, a cake. I just couldn't seem to control myself. Life had become a routine that began each morning with a mental review of the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator. And once I started to eat, I couldn't stop until I was almost ill.
My eating disorder began when I was 18. I had a strained relationship with my parents. One night I'd argued with my father over some insignificant matter and decided it was time to move out of the house. It wasn't an amicable parting: For the next eight months, my father refused to talk to me and discouraged my mother from having any contact with me. My school friends had moved away to attend college, I was struggling financially, and I was alone. The rejection and pain of that estrangement were almost unbearable.
My mother ate when she was upset, and soon I began to imitate her coping mechanism. It felt safer to stuff my mouth with food than to confront my father. I gained 30 pounds and was miserable. Though I eventually reconciled with my father, lost the excess weight, and returned home, the emotional bruising I sustained never healed.
My next heated disagreement with my father occurred three years later when he accused me of having sex with an old boyfriend who'd stopped by for a visit. Of course, that wasn't true! But my father was furious and told me I had 90 days to find another place to live. After that he refused to talk to me againor even look at me. I again reconciled with my father, but soon we had another disagreement. He refused to talk to me for 10 years after that, during which time I marriedand gained 40 pounds.