First of all, my views on this are highly unconventional and probably controversial. Much of what I’m talking about has hardly been discussed or researched. You won’t find this in the DSM-5 or any DSM and most shrinks, even “eating disorders specialists” don’t know this stuff. Why? They have never experienced massive binge eating themselves.
Secondly, some of what I am saying won’t apply to certain populations. If you vomit afterward, none of this applies. I’m only talking about what happens if you don’t vomit. Also, if you are diabetic and are insulin-dependent or have other serious medical conditions and you experience a binge, then what I’m saying here about what happens following a binge may or may not be true for you PLUS you may also have further serious medical complications not listed here. Consumption of alcohol or drugs will also complicate matters.
If you are reading this and are in medical danger, don’t even read further. Get help. I do know a binge can be serious. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t, or trivialize it.
Now, that saying…I disagree with the DSM! Why? The DSM does us a great disservice by classifying all binge eating into one lump diagnosis category. So what happens is that there are all different kinds of binge eating, and it’s all lumped together as the same “diagnosis.”
I have been talking to so many people who suffer from this or have suffered from it. Some people binge primarily on sugary foods. Many of these folks discover that their binge eating is addiction-like and some of these folks benefit from eliminating concentrated sugars or certain types of dessert foods, even certain breads.
Others binge on anything, it doesn’t have to necessarily be sugar. I have heard that some binge on primarily protein foods or salty foods.
I do believe that binge eating is a physical disorder that is generally nutritionally based. It could be hormonally-influenced or even caused by seizures. And of course, any drug, whether prescribed or not, can cause binge eating, including marijuana. I have heard, also, that certain physical ailments, such as Lyme Disease, can cause binge eating or symptoms that mimic eating disorders of all types.
Back in the 1980’s, I read all the literature about what to do if you find yourself overeating when you are feeling blue. Or when mindlessly eating in front of the TV, or bored. Or if you went out and ate junk food when your boyfriend dumped you. I found that none of this literature applied to me, nor was it helpful. In fact, I found the “poor coping” theories insulting to say the least. These people who touted “better coping” had no clue what I was going through.
See, the DSM may talk about binge eating disorder but makes no distinction between the following: 1) There are those that eat a few candy bars, or a few pieces of pizza, and then call that a binge. They feel horribly guilty afterward and maybe have a tummy ache from the candy for an hour or two. Maybe they gain weight, cuz it is, in fact, too much to eat. Or maybe they don’t.
2) Others massively binge eat. I’m talking about huge quantities, like 10,000-15,000 calories. I have rarely actually counted the number of calories in any of my massive binges, but I know the quantity was around that much. I have heard that 15,000 was the most anyone can humanly stuff in, but I’m not sure that’s accurate…and over what period of time? Anyway, that number sticks in my head.
What I am saying is this: The medical profession is lumping us all together. So if someone complains of binge eating, and in fact, they’re doing mini-binges (sorry, but a few candy bars isn’t a binge in my eyes) what happens is that the medical profession and these specialists think the main problem is guilt. So they think, “Hey, they’re neurotics! These gals make a mountain out of a molehill.” That’s why those of us who massively binge get poo-pooed at the treatment centers and in doctor’s offices, and we end up wondering why.
I do think massive binge eating is indeed serious. Now, I’ll talk about what happens to a person AFTER eating those thousands and thousands of calories AND not throwing them up.
This is my own experience. I’m writing this out in second person, however, for whatever reason.
Something stops you from eating. Maybe you just can’t fit in anything else. Maybe you start to choke or the food won’t go down anymore or it seems to be filling up right up into your throat. Or you run out of food.
You are at risk for stomach rupture. This has indeed happened to people and personally, I’m positive it happens far more often than medical science is willing to admit. Rarely does a person survive if their stomach ruptures. I believe that it has occurred and not been documented because without an autopsy, the person’s death may be documented as a heart attack or other cause.
I have heard that you should never, ever take Alka Seltzer or bicarbonate of soda, also called baking soda, following a massive binge. These will increase your risk of stomach rupture. I don’t know if this is true but that’s what I’ve heard. I remember from childhood my mom used to tell us to take baking soda for a stomach ache, but I’m sure glad I never took it after a binge.
You feel sedation. This hits hard. Like you have taken a very strong sleeping pill that kicks in fast. (I’ve actually passed out, but not really fainted, simply collapsed to the floor. It hasn’t happened too often. Usually, I have the good sense to lie down before I’m out cold.)
If you sleep, you sleep deeply despite the fact that you’ve got all that food in you. How long? It varies.
Your stomach is huge. Probably it is larger than it would be if you were pregnant. Unlike pregnancy, there is expansion all around, not just in front, although I think this varies from person to person. It will stay that way for a long, long time. If you binge Sunday night, your stomach will be huge all day Monday and most likely into Tuesday as well.
You may notice swelling in other parts of your body, including your face, arms, hands, legs, ankles, anywhere.
I can see why many people are tempted to abuse laxatives, because these speed up the digestive process. It means the huge tummy won’t be around as long. However, if you have diarrhea, either induced or it just happens, here’s what to expect:
Your stomach gets extremely bloated and uncomfortable for a long time prior to the diarrhea. So it will actually be larger for a while. Your stomach will growl like mad. You may experience a lot of abdominal pain that lasts for hours, including cramping. The swelling in other parts of your body, such as your ankles or thighs may worsen. You will most likely have to defecate rather suddenly, and if there’s no bathroom around, you might leak. If you are stuck sharing a bathroom or using a public bathroom, you might go through a bit of embarrassment. I’m not going to go on and on about the warnings about laxative abuse cuz you’ve already heard them. I do know of people who have died or have permanent damage. It’s far from rare.
Another thing that happens is that your body gets revved at some point. Your heart pounds, you sweat, and you feel very hot. Some people have reported a raised blood pressure and pulse, and even raised body temperature. It sounds like what physically happens to the body when you are exercising, or when you feel afraid. However, these sensations are more a nuisance than anything else. You aren’t likely to be able to sleep while your body is revved like this.
An acupuncturist explained to me why this happens. It’s because your digestion is working on overtime. It’s working extra hard. It’s got a huge amount of food to process and it’s not designed for a “meal” that large. It’s going to take extra time, too, to process all of it.
You may or may not experience gassy emissions, such as burping or flatulence. The burps may contain stomach acid or even bits of the food you ate, or have a sour taste, or taste somewhat like what you binged on. This will affect your breath odor. Flatulence may be uncontrolled and may be in a large quantity.
Now what do these “experts” tell us? First of all, they assume we all go out jogging after a binge, or just feel guilty and otherwise go about our normal days. Given the above, clearly these “experts” have no clue what a person goes through physically following a binge.
Most “experts” will tell you to go right back on your meal plan, that is, if you binge Saturday afternoon, just eat dinner as usual. Oh, really?
As for those of you who do these mini-binges and call what you have binge eating disorder, maybe you need to realize that guilt won’t hurt you. It’s a feeling. Yes, it’s real, but you’re not in physical pain due to guilt. Guilty feelings don’t mean you will be punished, fined, jailed, or reprimanded. Guilty feelings don’t mean some St. Peter will choose Hell for you. It’s a feeling and it passes. Once you realize this, the “moral issue” of these mini-binges is wiped out. Do go right back on your meal plan, if you choose to use one, and you’re likely to be fine. You won’t even gain weight.
These “experts” have clearly never experienced massive binge eating themselves. If you try to eat again following a massive binge, YOU CAN’T! You might try, but you aren’t even capable of putting anything into your mouth for a long time after a binge. Your stomach turns when you try to eat. You may even have trouble getting liquids in for a long time, and as a result, suffer dehydration. You’re just too sick.
The experts assume some of us jog off the calories. For those who do those mini-binges, this is probably applicable. However, following a massive binge, you cannot even comfortably sit in a chair, you cannot walk, you cannot stand up. Absolutely no position is tolerable. Probably lying down is the only thing you can do, but it’s far from comfortable. If you try to concentrate on a task, you find that you cannot do so. You’re in too much pain. This can go on for a whole day following the binge. If you try to eat, you feel worse.
I’m going to address something else that’s concerning to me. People have reported to me binge eating over and over in succession, or having too many binges very close together in time. This has happened to me, too.
I’ve been going through this for over three decades. I can tell you one thing: I’ve been in the situation where I was binge eating over and over and my stomach never had a chance to return to a tolerable state of comfort before the next binge. I remember gaining weight very rapidly during those periods and I felt extremely sick.
This is truly critical. There’s no way your body can process all the food you’re putting into it. You must do something to make it stop.
The times I was in this situation, I recall desperately trying to get help, and literally getting laughed at by doctors. I had no clue what to do. The hospitals didn’t take it seriously, either. Nowadays, many still don’t, but some do.
I saw the hospital as a way to stop it, but since “I can’t stop bingeing” would never get taken seriously, I had to lie my way into the hospital. I assumed the hospital was the answer. Get myself locked up so I won’t binge. I had to say I was suicidal so that they’d take me seriously and maybe admit me. This went on for years, sadly. I wish there had been some other way. I wonder what other things I could have done instead of subjecting myself to all that lockup.
I have tried to tell doctors about all this stuff, about the sedation, the sweating, the farts, everything. No one has ever taken the time to listen except that one acupuncturist I had quite a while back. That’s why I’m documenting it here.
Take care you guys.