I’m now about 3 chapters into a new book called, “Food: The Good Girl’s Drug” by Sunny Sea Gold (I know, don’t some people’s names make you smile?).
She delves into her past addiction to binge and secretive eating that started when she was in her teenage years and her parents were going through a very nasty divorce. She turned to food in attempt to cope and to give her a sense of calm and peace for a while. The habit eventually showed consequences as she began to gain weight, ending up in larger and larger sizes of clothes. Her mom, in an attempt to help her hurting daughter, bought her a prescription diet pill that made her shaky, nauseated, and made her heart race to unhealthy levels. Sunny continued to hide her secret from her mom, sneaking into the kitchen late at night, keeping the lights off and dove into the cupboards and fridge for something to medicate her emotions.
Sunny has recently recovered from Binge Eating Disorder (which is far more occurant than annorexia and bulimia combined!) and spent a great deal of time, surveying young women from all over the country about their experiences with BED and how badly it affects their lives as a whole.
I was surprised how, right from the get-go, I felt as if I was reading my own personal stories. Every paragraph, I’d stop and think “hey, I’ve done that!” I felt such a relief (and appauled at the same time) how many girls, young women, and even adults struggle with binge eating. Whether it lasts for an hour after a nasty breakup, or continues on for months and even years at a time, anyone can fall into this. I know I’ve struggled with this (and still do from time to time) in my life.
Growing up, I remember summer after summer, having no real friends to hang out with, so I’d slink into our couch, watch TV and mindlessly devour a whole box of ice cream sandwiches. I medicated myself by unwrapping each and consuming it in as few bites as possible. I felt so alone, hopeless, and helpless. And sick.
My dad was so consumed in making something work in this new business of his that every part of his time was spent at work. Even when he was home with us, he was always on another phone call with an employee, a client, whoever. It didn’t really matter. The point was he was never available.
My mom, trying to cope with the sudden “loss” of her husband, was never “around,” either. She fell into a very deep depression, hardly eating anything and went out walking around our neighborhood all the time. My mom lost 50 pounds in less than 3 months. My dad was never there to notice and still doesn’t remember to this day (!).
I was dealing with being the only one at home (both brothers were so involved in sports or with their friends), and a pantry stocked with every boxed and process food you could dream up. That pantry became my best friend and all I had to rely on. Day after day, I’d roll out of bed, find some sugar cereal for myself and begin the day. It would be almost 8 hours each day before I’d get off the couch and go shower. I’d spend time in our basement, among all of the food storrage, looking for my next “high.” I wasn’t the best cook, so 3-steps of boxed instructions made things possible and convenient.
I don’t blame my mom for being so absent during such a painful period growing up- she was doing the very damn best thing she could do. She was surviving, but barely.
A big source of motivation for me to get up, workout, and eat right day after day would be remembering how dead I felt inside, sitting on that couch. I literally watched my childhood pass me by. I wasn’t out living or playing in the yard. Sports teams (recreational soccer) was a big laugh- I felt so humilated bringing more attention to how out of shape I was. I couldn’t keep up with anyone else on my team.
I never want to go back to that place. I never want anyone to experience what I did. That’s a big source of inspiration for me to continue as a personal trainer and reach out a hand to those who felt similar to how I did.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that finds themself reaching for food when they are stressed, sad, happy, angry, or experiencing any mood that doesn’t involve real hunger. There is help. There is hope. You are not alone.