People use food to cope with life for many reasons. One of the ways I used food to cope, when I was in the throes of my Binge-Eating Disorder, was as a substitute for love and intimacy. There was no way I would entertain the idea of dating (due to my physical and emotional state) so I binged instead. It wasn’t until I began my transformation that I realized I was substituting food for intimacy. The best way I can describe this similarity is to compare having a date night with a binge.
- Your love interest asks you out on a date and you’re flattered and excited.
- After your acceptance, you immediately begin to plan what to wear because you must have the perfect outfit!
- You envision the outfit but nothing in the closet matches the vision so you go shopping to buy the perfect ensemble.
- Date night is here and, as you primp, the anticipation builds to an excited frenzy.
- Your date arrives and the evening is underway! You’re having fun, the conversation flows and you think the potential for a 2nd date is high.
- You’re back on your doorstep, there’s a good night kiss and the promise of 2nd date.
- The excitement of the evening turns into contentment, fulfillment and the possibility of a great relationship.
- You’ve had a particularly stressful day and decide a date with bingeing is in order to release some tension.
- Planning for the binge starts and the menu includes delicious comfort food.
- You don’t have the food in the house for the perfect binge so you go shopping (sometimes to multiple stores so you’re not embarrassed buying all the food in one place).
- You arrive home and start preparing the food or opening packages and work yourself into an excited frenzy.
- The food is ready, you start eating and the day’s stress melts away. You can’t get enough so you continue to eat for a few hours or until the food is gone.
- After the binge, your excited frenzy gets a reality check and turns into disgust and uncomfortable fullness. That’s when the feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment start to surface.
Do you see how someone can substitute a binge for a date? The steps are eerily similar but the outcomes are very different. In the date scenario, the possibility exists to have a healthy, meaningful and intimate relationship. The binge night almost always ends in guilt, shame and embarrassment with no possibility of a healthy relationship with food or a significant other.
Both scenarios are inherently scary. What if date night ends in disaster and reinforces the belief that I’ll be alone forever? Binge night will provide feelings of comfort, love and false relaxation in the short term but deteriorating physical and emotional well-being in the long term. The fundamental difference is that the opportunity for a positive outcome only exists in the date night scenario. There is greater risk for rejection but the reward is so much greater.
Taking food as your lover ends up being a poor substitute for the real thing. If you’re missing companionship, intimacy, a partner or soul-mate, face your fear and go on a quest for the real thing because a love affair with food is a recipe for disaster!