“It’s what you put in your mouth for chrissakes!”
My dad was a classic binge eater and the above was his favorite thing to say. He couldn’t figure out why he binged nor how to stop. For him, life was a continual, losing battle.
Every day (more or less) he’d wake up and swear he was going to “be good” today. He wouldn’t binge or even overeat – not even a little. It was time to channel his inner Jack Lalanne (one of dad’s heroes) and kick some healthy butt!
Today would be the first day of the rest of his life!
And he’d usually do very well until around 9 PM. At that point in the evening, something would happen that ultimately killed dad. From the outside, all we knew was that he’d suddenly change his mind about food and his goal to get fit. He’d just stop caring and begin making any excuse to eat. And eat and eat.
When we went to bed, dad would still be at it; eating us out of house and home.
Dad suffered from “binge attacks.”
Without knowing what triggered the change in attitude, dad’s mindset transformed from a guy who was 100% determined to eat healthily and lose weight to…..the TOTAL OPPOSITE.
In binge attack mode, nothing could stop him from eating. His wife would hide food from him but that didn’t work. He’d eat the kids’ cereal and anything with sugar in it. Then, he’d turn to leftovers, then anything crunchy, and then anything he could find until he was too tired to get up again.
Once, in the midst of a binge attack, I asked him, “Dad, why are you doing this? You’ve been great all day — and are always disciplined during the day – but now you couldn’t care less about yourself or anyone else for that matter.”
“Don’t worry about it! If I want to binge, I’ll eat the whole damn house if I want.” he snapped.
I looked into his eyes. He was angry. I shut up.
In that moment, I saw something in dad that I’d never noticed before. It wasn’t the dad I was used to. In his eyes, I saw a hurt, angry, vindictive, and almost sociopathic creature. Whatever this part of his personality was, it hijacked his brain every evening and changed his beliefs about what was important to him.
It was like the Hulk rising up and taking over Bill Bixby’s mind. Only this particular Hulk was hell-bent on feeding itself as its sole reason for existence.
Dad passed away due to complications from diabetes.
He went through the entire rigmarole. Foot ulcers. Feet amputated. Legs amputated above the knees. Death from a staph infection while recovering from the last surgery. It was brutal.
I was right there with him when he died. In that moment, I silently swore I would never allow myself to be in that position. I would NEVER get diabetes and put myself and my loved ones through all that.
That was 15 years ago. The good news is that I do not have diabetes. I check morning blood sugar regularly and get a full physical with blood work twice a year. No blood sugar dangers. But I’m not out of the woods because I have the same rogue part of my personality as my father had.
What does this part of me say?
Fuck it! I can eat what I want! I can do what I want. I don’t care if I live or die. Fuck everything!~ my rogue food demon
It’s powerful. When this attitude hijacks me, it is WILDLY difficult to control. I often end up eating food JUST TO MAKE THIS PART OF ME DISAPPEAR – just to stop the wild cravings and uncontrollable….anger? Rebellion? Pessimism?