Wake up. Go to class. Nibble on a snack. Go to my other class. Study. Eat a granola bar. Write a paper. Drive home. Pull out whatever leftovers are in the fridge and eat until I'm satisfied, right? No, I ate a little more. After all, I was starving because I hadn't really eaten all day and was making up for the calories I didn't consume earlier. "If I just eat a little bit during the day, then I can eat whatever I want when I get home," I lied to myself. "The calories will all balance out."
Photo by i yunmai
This was my life for several months when I was in college. I commuted to class every day and didn't want to buy the expensive food on campus, so I just brought a couple of snacks with me and called it good. I was also struggling with the fact that I gained weight since graduating from high school and starting college (but who doesn't?). Being involved in sports my entire life, I never had to watch what I put into my body. That is until college came around and I wasn't nearly as active as I had been. Feeling my clothes getting tighter and not liking what I saw in the mirror, I decided that food was the enemy and I needed to defeat it.
Photo by Volkan Olmez
The Mayo Clinic says: "Binge-eating disorder is a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating." The Clinic goes on to explain that while we all overeat sometimes, especially during the holidays, for some people this becomes a regular way of life. I was never diagnosed with a binge-eating disorder, but I certainly could have been if I kept going down the path of eating way too much. Thanks to close family members and friends, I developed a healthy view of food, realizing that food is not the enemy. My issue was that I felt like my academic performance and getting outstanding grades was the only thing that mattered. I put my identity, worth, and my all into having impressive grades. Every other area of my life, especially my physical health, suffered because of it.
Photo by Kendal James
Binge-eating disorder often occurs in people who are trying "to deal with anger, sadness, boredom, anxiety, or stress." If this is you, I want you to know that I see and I get where you are coming from. I would get angry when I didn't receive the grade I wanted on an assignment. I was sad because my social life was practically nonexistent due to my obsessiveness with near-perfect grades. I was bored with school, I was anxious, and I was stressed about what I would do after graduation. If you feel yourself falling into that pit of despair and like there's no way out, know that 1. You're truly not alone in this. And 2. You're going to get through this if you seek help. Talk to your doctor, talk to someone who's close to you, and ask for accountability. You can do this.
Photo by Ben White
Lastly, remember that food isn't the enemy. Eating too much is just as unhealthy as eating too little. Both are extremes on opposite ends. Know that you are "fearfully and wonderfully made." You may have heard that before and rolled your eyes (I certainly have), but when you read the entire Psalm where that verse is found, Psalm 139, you begin to understand a lot more. Our bodies, our lives, and everything we have belong to the Lord. It's not for us to abuse or call worthless. Don't let the real Enemy creep in and whisper lies to you. God knows who you are and that's all that really matters.
Photo by Amadeo Muslimović