Binge eating disorder and obesity
I didn’t start out overweight. When I was a kid, I was maybe a little on the “thick” side, but I was healthy. I was really active until adolescence, when I started to put on weight. That was when I started buying lunch at high school – which really meant that I started eating fast food and snack pies sold in the cafeteria. I would get either pizza or a fried chicken sandwich or a hamburger, and polish it off with a package of cupcakes. My friends and I went straight to the nearby fast food joint on the way home, too, and we would get French fries and dip them in ranch dressing. I remember that: French fries every day after school. When we started driving to and from school, my eating really started to get out of control. I was babysitting a lot on weekends, and the families were always really nice and would leave treats – cookies and chips and things – and tell me to just help myself. And I would. It got to the point that I even started ordering out while I was babysitting. I would have a pizza delivered, and I would eat all of it. I felt terrible afterward, and ashamed, and I remember sneaking the pizza box into the neighbors’ garbage can outside so that the family wouldn’t know what I had done. It was terrible. When I went away to college, the bingeing got worse. I was on the college meal plan, and they had a full range of healthy foods available, but they also had the soft-serve ice cream at every meal, and an entire table full of cookies right there as you were exiting the cafeteria. So of course I usually grabbed one (or more!) on the way out. The thing about college food was that I felt so deprived. The cafeteria was only open for a few hours around each meal time, which never seemed to match up with my schedule. So I never made it there in time for breakfast (they stopped serving at 10am), and by lunchtime I was really hungry. They had this policy where you couldn’t take food “to go” – technically you weren’t supposed to leave with food at all – and since I knew that I would not be able to get food again until the cafeteria reopened for dinner, I would sort of “store up” and eat more than I really wanted. I was afraid of going hungry later. By the time I finished college, I was probably 20 or 30 pounds overweight.