Bingeing and Starving, Feasting and Fasting, or Bulimia

Do you recognise this syndrome?

I am not talking about Intermittent Fasting which is becoming more popular with diets such as the 5-2 or IF. These are controlled and not designed for bingeing one minute and starving the next, but use a more balanced way of eating.

Human beings love to feast. We love food, we love using food to socialize and to celebrate special occasions. On these occasions people naturally overdo it. We may rub our tummies and say that we really cannot eat anymore, and will probably not eat anything for the rest of day without giving it a thought. We dismiss it and forget all about it, looking back and saying what a wonderful meal that was.

However, there are many among us who will just end up hating themselves and even carry on eating until they are sick. If they cannot be sick they will make themselves sick. They loath themselves and then try and starve to make up for it. In a way they are punishing themselves.

These are the people who are caught in the trap of dieting and eating disorders. We call it Bulimia when severe. However many people who are constantly starving on slimming and restrictive diets are bordering on to this disease.

Firstly they need to learn not to hate themselves and realize that it is not their fault! They have fallen into a trap. Would you blame an animal if you found it caught in a trap that it hadn’t set? But a trap has been set with the modern world of dieting and the need to be not just slim, but skinny. People, particularly women, try to emulate the celebrities who are stick thin and then feel that they are a failure if they cannot succeed at doing that.

Marc David of the Psychology of Eating Institute, in a recent webinar that I watched on Emotional Eating, pointed out that people who binge and starve are in a never ending cycle. This cycle in turn causes enormous stress to the mind and body which make it difficult for the body to metabolise and absorb nutrients. He cites three steps as to why we end up bingeing after starving:

  • We fight the need to eat
  • We are too controlling
  • We are too restricting

Let’s look at what has happened in the last thirty years

Back in the 1980’s Paulette Maisner wrote a book called Feasting and Fasting. She was a terrific lady: I met her and learnt a lot from her in the world of Nutrition. This book was about Bulimia and Obsessive eating. Although Bulimia was quite familiar it was not so well known then, but it came out of the closet in the 1990’s and in a way, we have Diana, Princess of Wales to thank for that.

At the time that Paulette was around in the 1980’s, we still had the problem of having to watch our weight, just the same as today, but the pressure was to be a size 10 or 12 and not 6 or 8, as it is today. Even allowing for the changes in the sizing of clothes since then, this is still a big difference. Men simply did not worry. They were just reminded from time to time about their “beer bellies”.

However a lot has changed in the last thirty years and as an older person I have been there to witness it. First of all in the early 80’s, we were suddenly told, after years of watching our intake of Carbohydrates- that we now needed to base our intake on starchy foods and limit our intake of fat. The Food Industry cashed in on this and invented numerous foods labeled “low fat.”

What everyone, including the experts, failed to take note of was that starchy foods were the very foods that people were tending to eat too much. Indeed Bulimics and the Obsessive eaters would binge on them. Have you ever tried to binge on Meat?

The result is a paradox

Now in the 21st Century we have thousands of books and experts telling us how we can lose weight. Most contradict one another whilst suggesting various means, such as low fat, counting points, counting calories, protein shakes, low carbohydrate, and so on.

But at the end of it all we have a Paradox. We are increasingly being told that to be overweight or obese is dangerous. Yet we have these eating disorders of Bingeing and starving and Bulimia. In spite of all the wonderful diets that are around, society is increasingly worried about an Obesity Epidemic. Why is this I wonder?

Because the advice that we have had is simply not working, an increasing number of people are looking at this problem including the authors Zoe Harcombe and John Biffra.

Are you just as confused?

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

I suggest that your journey out of the diet trap could start by doing some research and reading yourself. Don’t just buy a diet book because you think is looks effective, look into the reasons why a particular diet would or would not work.

Discover for yourself why you are finding it so difficult to maintain a way of eating that you know is right for you as an individual, to keep you healthy and slim, without resorting to drastic methods.

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