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Overweight problem eater, no discipline

  • 31-08-2022 12:24pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1 Joe Exotic Tiger King

    I'm an 18 stone man, almost 40 years old.

    I have real issues with binge eating, and have for most of my life (I remember being 7 or 8 and partaking in binge eating sessions with multipacks of bars or crisps while locked in the bathroom).

    I go through spells of controlling it, maybe 3 months at a time, i'll lose some weight, feel better and look better and then the indiscipline creeps back in and i'm back to square one. If my wife is heading out for the night my first thought is to order some food, or go to the shop and load up so i have things to binge on. Quite often I'll binge and feel like death. I'll have bought more than I can eat, and even though I'm not enjoying the food, I'll force myself to eat it and keep eating. Examples of foods could be anything from frozen pizzas to large chocolate bars, peanuts, ice cream, ready meals, pastas or rice dishes, chinese takeaway, taco chips etc. I don't vomit, but I feel distended and almost paralysed from it, while also exhausted tired. Not a good look... jesus it's bad form to be doing this to myself. And I don't hate myself or anything like that at all.

    Aside from the obvious health impacts (which I haven't felt yet really, but I know I must be in store for), it's also an expensive 'hobby'. As far as my wife is concerned, I need to manage my portion sizes and exercise to manage my weight. She thinks I eat too much 'good food', such as 'real dinners' and that. She cooks a lot of our meals and they're not unhealthy at all. She doesn't know how much I binge.

    Has anybody any ideas on how to help? People say 'you have to really want it', and I do, but I still fail. I can go months sometimes and beat cravings and a lapse will trigger some sort of response that sends me on a spiral again, and I can gain weight rapidly at those times. I've a desk job, and young kids so very little time for 'me' time as often my wife will work opposite my hours so I've the kids in evenings or weekends while she works.

    I can obviously stand to lose some weight if you see me, but most are shocked if they hear my weight. I look overweight, but not as obese as I am I guess. It's like it's all over weight and not just belly (though that's sizeable at the moment too...).

    I tried hypnotherapy once but the woman started talking trying to indoctrinate me with homeopathy views on things, advocating drinking turmeric water to prevent cancer and all that stuff so I dropped off from her.

    I'm sure my story isn't unusual. But time is marching on, i've young kids who I don't want to see their dad die aged 44 from a heart attack, or be unable to walk to town with them, or run after a ball or whatever.

    I'm not sure what I want people here to say, advice on how to focus and stay focused maybe, any good book recommendations etc etc.


    Post edited by Hannibal_Smith on


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,443 ✭✭✭maninasia

    Whats the trigger for you to binge eat?

    I dont have anything to add except wondering if that can be avoided, is it compensation for feeling down?

    Or do you enjoy something else that is not 'unhealthy' as a way to cheer yourself play some video games, something else to keep your mind off stuff?

    Its tough when you have young children it does get a lot easier when they get older.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,233 ✭✭✭thefallingman

    Hi Joe, it's up to you what you choose to eat, there is no trick to stay focused. It's the same for any addiction which is what it sounds like to me. Many times i've heard people say, but i've no willpower. We all have the willpower but some choose to use it, others ignore it. I don't mean to be harsh at all, but if you really want to change and lose weight, it has to come from you, no tricks or short cuts, eat well and exercise. I wish you luck i know it's easier said than done.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,831 ✭✭✭3DataModem

    I believe a chat with your GP, and referral to a therapist, is what you need.

    There is no weight loss programme or healthy lifestyle that will outgun a binge eating habit.

    I wish you the best of luck. You seem to have a fair grasp of the problem so far, so that's a great first step.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 70 ✭✭RojaStar

    OP I'm no expert but it sounds like more like an eating disorder than a lack of discipline or a bad habit, especially when you say it's been going on since you were a child. In that case as others have said, you may need some specialised therapy to help you get past it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 236 ✭✭Bellie1

    Binge eating is an eating disorder. Ring bodywhys and maybe they can advise re a good counsellor who can help. It's up there with anorexia and bulimia so not easy to tackle on your own, it seems

  • Registered Users Posts: 210 ✭✭put_the_kettle_on

    Eating disorders are among the most complex of mental health issues to deal with. Here in the uk if you present with a non eating disorder MH issue you can avail yourself of up to 8 sessions with a counselor, but for eating disorders there is no limit. The NHS recognises that it can take several years to achieve a successful resolution.

    In common with some of the other posters I'd advise an appt firstly with your GP and ask to be referred to an eating disorders therapist. Start keeping a food diary, be meticulous and honest. A therapist will want this information. As someone earlier commented, you may have triggers for bingeing that you are not consciously aware of and keeping a truthful record of consumption can help to identify them.

    I wish you all the help and support you need.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,025 ✭✭✭✭fits

    It sounds like an addiction to me. You might benefit from rehab. Definitely talk to some specialists. A lot more going on here than regular overeating. Good luck x

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,044 ✭✭✭Mundo7976

    "I'm sure my story isn't unusual. But time is marching on, i've young kids who I don't want to see their dad die aged 44 from a heart attack, or be unable to walk to town with them, or run after a ball or whatever."

    This. A former colleague said this to me about smoking, took me a while but I did it. Then there's my weight & overeating I had to do something about it. You know you can stop for a few months & feel better for it, then it's time to extend that by having something else to focus in. Exercise is a great way to help, doesn't have to be anything too strenuous at first, walking/cycling /swimming, anything & it won't take long for it to become enjoyable and to be able to extend your range.

    Also remember, there no such thing as 'I can't'

    You can do it, bit by bit.

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 2,493 Mod ✭✭✭✭Mystery Egg


    A really good starting point is to look up the podcasts of the Binge Eating Dietitian, Jo Moscalu.

    The podcasts are free, short and simple to understand and she provides starting points for overcoming this disorder. Once you've begun to understand the condition you can gain the courage to link with a specialist who will help you overcome it.

    This condition is an illness. It's not your fault at all. You deserve support. Full freedom is possible. Good luck. :)

  • Administrators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,940 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Neyite

    I've zero willpower. When I wanted to quit the cigarettes I tried all the patches, gum, inhalers, cold turkey and failed. Hypnosis worked a charm though -just a book online with a downloadable audio file I put on my phone and listened to before sleeping. No other woo BS, just what it said on the tin - so it might be worth giving hypnosis another go, just not with yer wan. I've been off them 13 years and counting with no discomfort or cravings from the first day.

    When my weight started to creep up due to metabolism slowing down thanks to ageing, I did try to be good and again, fecking useless willpower. Within an hour I'd cave on my noble intentions and grab something junk to eat. So I went back to the hypnosis, and again, just a book and an audio file that does only that and while I only did it fora short time earlier in the summer, I was a lot calmer, able to resist junk easily, took smaller portions and feeling satisfied. It felt manageable and without any of the usual stress, and I began to lose weight.

    I fell off that wagon while on holiday and I've to get back into it again but I'm feeling more confident this time around. I need to lose a small bit more but now I do eat well, snacking is almost cut out so it's more about building more exercise into my day as well which is tricky with a long commute but I'll figure it out. The psychological bit was the part that made me fail.

    It's the Paul McKenna hypnosis - he's got a couple of them for weight loss. The way I see it, its under €15 so if it doesn't help, I'm not massively out of pocket and can explore another avenue to my goal.

  • OP - I think the fact you do not binge to satiate but actually do so way past the level of satiation into near comatose discomfort - coupled by how periodic and "triggered" your binging tends to be - makes me feel like you have a compulsion issue and compulsive behaviours here - as distinct from addiction and addictive behaviours as suggested by some other users.

    The differences are subtle at times but very important and would be one distinction a psychiatic expert would explore with you if you were to visit one. Which it sounds like you really should.

    Also issues like this tend to be a lot more nuanced and complex than those who will just tell you "its all willpower you just have to use that willpower". Just like you can have all the muscles in the world, but there will be still things too heavy for you to life, you can have all the willpower in the world but there will be some sources of compulsion and addiction and trauma that are just heavier than what your willpower is able for without support. And many supports are there.

    To your post first though - you asked for books or other sources you could follow up into that might be helpful. I have much less experience with eating disorders that I do other compulsive or addiction behabiours so it is hard for me to know what to suggest. You might look into a book called "The Body keeps the score" which delves into how a lot of compulsive disorders come from past traumas. There was also a podcast on the Huberman lab on the subject of Trauma and it's effects with Dr. Paul Conti. Episode 75 I think. There is also a podcast from ireland by the "Two Norries" on the subject of eating disorders with a guest who had a different eating disorder to you but a lot of her story might still ring with you. This is episode 28 with Lorna Ahern. And I believe she is open herself to being messaged and offering advice. So listen to that one and maybe contact her?

    Secondly you ask what you might do yourself - Look up a lot of my post history related to alcohol. I gave alcoholics a lot of the same advice I would give you. But I will throw a few out here too.

    First you should certainly consider coming out with it to your wife that you have an issue, you are fighting a battle by yourself which you did not want to burden anyone with, but you are losing that battle alone and you need help. You should certainly consider the help of a professional. Everyone is doing it these days! :) Don't feel bad or shame for needing help.

    Second you should look into identifying all your triggers, problem times, problem locations and so forth and working out a strategy - preferably with your wife - to avoid them. If there are certain times, locations, or situations where this issue explodes then try to be completely out of those situations. Even if it means a long walk in the country side with no money at all on you to buy food.

    Third would be some introspection into what you do feel you get from the binging. Try to identify what it is you get from it or that makes you want to do it. Is there a feeling, an emotion, a physical sensation, that is either brought out by - or is surpressed or pushed away by - this behaviour? If so you could identify things that bring the same result without the food and pursue them. For example if you suffer from a lot of anxiety and the binge makes you feel less anxious for awhile then explore things that will reduce your anxiety in general.

    Fourth would be some introspection on trying to remember where this started, and what was going on with you at that time too. You described the first time in a bathroom at age 7 or 8. Was that really the first time? Are you sure? Or just the first time you remember because it was relatively extreme? Was there anything before that? Do you remember what you were feeling at that time? Can you remember other situations of any kind at all before or since where you felt those similar feelings? For example I once knew someone who suffered from a constant feel of being rejected and being alone. He could not identify why this was until I asked him what he is actually feeling when that anxiety hits. I then asked him could he remember other or the first time he felt exactly those same feelings. And he suddenly remembered as a small kid he was being really naughty so his dad who was against physical violence tried the scare tactic of throwing him out of the front door of the house and pretending he was being kicked out of home and would not be welcome any more for being so naughty. The Dad of course let him back in after some minutes of this trauma, hoping it would have instilled discipline in the kid. But what it instilled was a trauma where the small child suddenly realised they could be rejected and left entirely and totally alone in life at any moment at all. And he grew up with that rooted in him without realising it all came from that one moment.

    Finally remember that nature abhors a vacuum. When we try to simply remove an addition or compulsion from our lives - we leave a hole in our lives. That hole will fill itself somehow. Usually with the same compulsion or addiction eventually. So you can not simply just remove this issue and resist it for months on end. You have to add something to your life in it's place. A pursuit you find meaningful and engaging preferably but something at least. For example a lot of the issues I used to have with anxiety I have replaced with Martial Arts and gardening with a tendency towards farming vegetables and herbs and so on.

    Other than that I think there is little more I can say without more background or feedback from your side. Hopefully some of the above helps. But there is only so much we can do from our keyboards and you really need to seek support in your family and in the medical professionals.

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 2,493 Mod ✭✭✭✭Mystery Egg

    I would just like to add that eating disorders where the person is overweight remain an area where the general public think they can help. They can't.

    The post above is very kind, detailed and well intentioned but contains advice that professional BED specialists would advise against. Professional guidance is where it's at for the OP for recovery. No shade at all on the poster above.

    OP, take the steps you need to. My advice is to avoid Overeaters Anonymous like the plague, and have a listen to Jo on the podcasts I mentioned above, and then find an eating disorder specialist to help guide you. Good luck.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,579 ✭✭✭Greyfox

    I disagree with the last poster and think some members of the general public can help, you just have to distinguish between the helpful ones and the nonsense, anybody who says you can get fast results is talking nonsense.

    On reddit and YouTube there are genuine examples of people who have lost a huge amount of weight, a friend of mine found David Goggins a great inspiration.

    I think keeping a diary is a must as well as telling everyone and taking progress pictures. You will still fail at times as most people have experienced the cycle of overdoing the calories and feeling like all their hard work was in vein.

    The question is when you binge can you forgive yourself afterwards and start the next week again with the aim of been better than last week. You have a choice, the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.. its impossible to avoid the choice as to not choose is choosing regret.

    Try to imagine a very clear picture of how you want to look in a year or so and the things you will be able to do in the future. You only have 1 shot at this life and you owe it to yourself to give it your best shot. Best of luck with your next attempt, you can do it

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 2,493 Mod ✭✭✭✭Mystery Egg

    The poster needs to recover from binge eating disorder.

    This cannot, ever, be solved by going on a diet, any more than anorexia is cured by eating hamburgers.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5 urgentcell

    I'm so sorry for you for what you are going through it's incredibly difficult for you, and I can sense so much shame where there should be none.

    What you describe is certainly Binge Eating Disorder (BED). I agree you need professional advice. I would urge caution about who you go to for advice. BED is still somewhat misunderstood. I would ask any professional are they going to prescribe a weight loss program first, if they are walk away. Your number one problem now is your binging and trying to stop that, losing weight is irrelevant.

    95% of diets fail, if a doctor prescribed a medicine with such success rates they would be out of business pretty soon.

    Apart from diets not working they are also responsible for eating disorders.

    I beg you not to go on a diet again you need to live your life without binging. Imagine a life free from binging. It's a complete myth that willpower will sort you out.

    Would you phone bodywhys?

    I wish there was as much compassion and understanding of BED as there is of anorexia. There seems to be blame for BED and compassion for anorexia. Both are terrible and seem to have an obvious cure eat less or eat more, if only it were that simple.

    Google health at every size too.

    Best of luck in your journey.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6 lisetrickel

    I heard about diets and concentrating on physical fitness, but none of it worked. I was 27 when I realized I needed to work on my body.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,282 ✭✭✭Fiona

    There is a Weight Loss clinic in Blackrock that may be able to help, Dr Crotty is one of the doctors there.

    Obesity / over eating etc is not easily solved and expert medical help could benefit you, I have made some changes which I would be happy to share personally as I don't want to break any forum rules.

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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,495 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith

    Given the OP hasn't been back since August I'll close this one off.


This discussion has been closed.