“I aim to be to you by six,” says Geoff. While this is the usual Saturday routine of us going about our life’s admin in the day and meeting up in the evening, I’m annoyed. I hang up the phone and immediately order a large Pinkberry on Uber Eats. Why can’t he get to me earlier? If he loved me, surely he’d aim to be at my house as soon as he could. But he doesn’t, so I’m sitting, waiting, until 6 p.m. when he arrives. The only thing to keep me company between now and then is Pinkberry. I’m bored. Uber Eats says my order will take between 20 to 30 minutes. Feels like a lifetime.
Why has a common incident turned me to food in this way? In fact, on nights when I’m home alone with nothing to do, why do I turn to ice cream, Oreos, or large quantities of pork belly? It’s an insatiable hunger that comes without warning, nor can I control it. Sometimes mozzarella is on the binge menu, sometimes chips. But almost always ice cream is, like today, when I very impulsively ordered that Pinkberry.
I am, on the whole, a healthy person. I exercise three to four times a week, eat a fairly good diet, and constantly fluctuate between a size six and eight. I would consider myself normal in terms of body type. Some have said I’m more on the athletic side, but at the end of the day, I hate every inch of it. I hate my arms because they’re fat, my stomach pooch, which even in my skinniest times was still there, and my legs. Oh, lord, my legs. They are muscular, short, and topped with a nice layer of cellulite. Geoff says he loves my body and is very attracted to me. I have no reason to think otherwise, except the fact that he’s keeping me waiting until 6 p.m. to see him.
Idle time is a binge eater’s worst enemy. It’s that time when we can let our minds wander to all corners of the delivery menu. Although my binge habits tend to have me cooking some sort of ungodly large portion of comfort food, I’m no stranger to a delivery order of starter, main, side, perhaps another side, and then dessert. I hope the delivery man thinks it’s for two. The idle time also gives us time to hide the evidence since shame is a binge eater’s biggest fear. If Geoff sees that I’ve had a large Pinkberry, he’ll judge me, shame me, and potentially leave me. Who wants to be with a fat pig? And if my roommate knows I’ve grilled and eaten a pound of pork belly, she’ll judge me and tell all her friends what I’ve done. I can’t let them know what I’m doing to myself. I even lied about the nap I had this afternoon. I can’t let them think I’m lazy.
I finish the Pinkberry by 3 p.m. Three more hours until Geoff is here. How will I fill this time? Read, bathe, clean? I will definitely be hiding the cup and bag that the ice cream came in. But there’s still lots of time. I could do something productive. I’ve been saying I want to learn Spanish and to play the piano. But I’m annoyed and tired—annoyed because I’m waiting for Geoff and tired because I’m depressed. The only thing that seems to motivate me is food.
He’s just sent me an invite to a gig on Facebook. He should be getting ready to come and see me. Why is he on Facebook? Why is he not doing everything he can to get to me ASAP? Is it male stupidity, or is it that I’m not worth getting to any sooner than 6 p.m.? I can feel the need for more food. I have plenty of time to binge before he comes.
We are supposed to be going to a birthday party tonight, but I feel so disgusting that I just want to lay in bed and do nothing. The small talk seems so much more painful when all I can think about is my beloved food. Plus, I love doing nothing. I love not having plans and staying in bed for hours upon hours. I also love being alone. Being alone is when I can think about food. And also eat food, as much food as I want without judgment.
I debate telling him not to come over at all. If he’s going to make me wait until 6 p.m., I’m going to make him wait even longer. I don’t want him to have this control over me and my feelings. I want control. This gig he’s inviting me to looks stupid, and I think the girl in the band likes him. I don’t want to go out of spite. A Friday night in bed with a mini buffet sounds better. This food cannot hurt me. It can only comfort me.
I could scroll through Instagram to pass the time. It’s a good way to stay in touch with friends but another binge eater’s nightmare. Endless images of women who are stick thin and who seem to be living the perfect life are thrown at me, even if I don’t follow them. It’s unavoidable. I think for most rational thinkers, these images would motivate oneself to get in shape, eat healthier, and attempt to achieve this idea of Instagram’s perfect body. But for me, a binge eater, it’s the opposite. It makes the binges worse. Why? Because I am not good enough to have this body, this lifestyle, nor this amount of Instagram success. I even try following plus-sized or curvy models. People seem to like them. They spread the word of body positivity. But they also have beautiful faces and are rich. I’m none of that. I resort to a whole pack of Oreos, telling myself that I’ll get back on my Weight Watchers and fitness regime on Monday.
Monday comes. I’m tired, and I don’t give a shit about anything else but sleep and food. I skip the gym and use Monday as my cheat day, telling myself it’s okay to skip the gym if I don’t feel like going. Tuesday is a perfect day to start back on a diet and fitness schedule anyway. But Tuesday’s no better. If anything, it’s worse. I work from home, and I’ve basically been a slug all day in my pajamas. I drag myself to see my therapist. We discuss the binges. He links them to loneliness and anxiety. I think it comes from the issues surrounding my alcoholic father. Who can be sure? The good news is my therapist’s office is right next to a giant supermarket. I know exactly what I’m going for today: pork belly. This supermarket also has a Krispy Kreme.
It’s now Wednesday, and I’ve not had a single healthy day this week. Rather, I’ve not had a single day without a binge. I keep telling myself the last one will be the last. I truly want it to be, but when the sadness, irritation, and anxiety comes, so does the urge to fill myself with food. What else could one use as fulfillment? I immediately think: a dog. But I can’t care for a dog right now. Perhaps a new skill. I know! Spanish and the piano. But I’m too some-sort-of-feeling that’s preventing me from doing these tasks, as well as tired.
I eat a healthy lunch of baked chicken and veg so I can afford to have one of the doughnuts that’s in the kitchen at work. Just one doughnut—it’ll be fine. I tell myself I’ll make it to the gym to counteract the calories gained from that doughnut. I make it to the gym. I work hard, I feel good, and I burn 650 calories. It’s like the doughnut never happened. It’s dinner time. What do I want? A burger and fries. I’ll opt for a quinoa salad instead. That will fill me, and it’ll be healthy. Finishing the salad, I need more food. My roommate’s home, so I need to find a way to sneak the binge. I can bring a large purse to the supermarket and then she won’t see what I have in there when I get back. I’ll keep the garbage in my room and get rid of it before she wakes up the next day. She’ll never know. Binge successful.
By Friday, I tell myself I’m going to have a healthy weekend. In fact, it’s easier for me to eat healthy at home—no cakes, sweets, and other deterrents around like they are in the office. I feel good going to sleep on Friday night knowing I’ll have a healthy weekend and will feel amazing come Monday.
Saturday morning. I’m tired. I allow myself to take the day off the gym with the promise to myself that I’ll eat healthier. Scrolling through Instagram, there are lots of body transformations happening—people going from size 20 to size 12. I tell myself I could do this. I could do this if I just get the right mindset, the right motivation, and keep it going. I’ll start on Monday. I’ll start after the weekend when Geoff inevitably finds a way to make me feel unloved and I resort to food. Monday will be better.