(216) I can’t stop binge eating with diabetes

How long have you been in the cycle of binge eating and self-loathing? This episode’s letter writer describes constant guilt and shame as she tries move away from binge eating and manage her diabetes. Do you feel addicted to food and struggle to manage your blood sugar? This episode is made for you.

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Dear Food,

I can’t remember the last time you and I were together and I didn’t feel guilty.  I’m 42 now and that makes me feel really sad.  
Until recently, I hadn’t really weighed the consequences of what withholding and restricting  you or what binging with you was doing to my body and ultimately my soul. Years ago, in a group therapy session that I hated going to, I listened to an alcoholic describe what he did with alcohol. After work, he would binge drink beer until he passed out, only to wake up and do it all over again the next night. That’s what I did with food.  
About six months ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes.  I burst out crying in my doctors office. She told me gently that it wasn’t my fault, but I don’t believe her. I have done so many horrible, shameful things with food.   
When I was 17, I went to my family doctor with an article from Cosmo that described PCOS.  “I have this!” I told him confidently.  He laughed me off.  After much pushing and shoving, horrible internal ultrasounds, humiliating facial hair and losing the hair on the top of my head, I was diagnosed at 23.  
When I received the diagnosis, I got on the scale and then the nurse took my pulse. “Ahh, an athlete, your pulse is so low.” I smiled and nodded. I was in the midst of a full blown eating disorder and living on Diet Coke, cigarettes and melba toast. For seven years I restricted my food intake – no one knew. I was praised for my appearance, and “willpower”. I really wanted to die.  
After a big break up and a big move to a new city and grad school, things began to change. I stopped working out around the clock. I started to eat three meals a day, and snacks on top of that.. Suddenly, food became such a comfort. It helped with the stress of work and studying. It helped with the loneliness and confusion I was feeling. Feeling stuffed felt better than falling in love.  
For ten years I cycled through the binging and self-loathing. I gained weight, I got depressed, I was put on anti-depressants, I gained more weight, I got more depressed.  Sometimes I wonder if the sugar shock I would give myself mimicked the same dopamine surge of my medication. For a long time, I put myself on a roller coaster ride of hormones and sugar crashes, sugar comas, heartburn, indigestion, anxiety attacks, and deep depressions.  Food has been the constant in my life.  
So here we are, lots of years later, trying earnestly to understand why I binge eat and how to stop it. Doctors have sent me to nutritionists who has described how important portion control is. It makes me feel angry.  I feel so ashamed.  I can’t tell anyone I’m diabetic.  If I eat keto, my blood sugars stabilize, but nothing about keto feels good to me.  I am so jealous of people who can eat in balance and harmony and not in the extremes. I don’t know how to do it.  
I don’t know how to feed myself without hurting or denying myself.  I don’t know what feels good anymore. I’d like to address my diabetes through my food because I believe it is the source of the issue. I wish my doctors had given me a blood meter when I was prediabetic, so I could have started the learning process then. I wish there was more information about the emotional side of PCOS and more research into emotional eating.  I’m trying to see this as a message my body is sending me. How can I listen now with kind ears and compassion? 

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