I didn’t get to weigh 238 pounds by eating like a normal person. One of my major struggles with food is binge eating. When I get around something sugary, it is easy for me to start with a little bit…and then something internal snaps. Before I know it, I’m stopping in the corner store to buy more junk food and stuffing my face like I will never see food again.

I hide this behavior, for the most part. Sometimes the ravenous beast comes out at a bar, but lots of people eat a plate of nachos when they’re drinking, so it doesn’t seem like bizarre behavior to anyone. But when I’m thinking about Swedish fish while mixing up a homemade milkshake to follow my slices of pizza, I’m definitely doing it in secret. I eat until I feel sick, and then I eat some more. The next day, I feel dull, congested, and headache-y…and ashamed. It typically takes at least a day to feel normal again, but one of the worst parts about these binges is that sometimes they don’t stop. Once I’ve screwed up one day, I throw in the towel and eat like a crazy person for the next few days, weeks, or months. This is how I went from 170-ish in 2009 to 240 in 2011.

I’m not alone in this. Many people struggle with binge eating and I know that this problem isn’t going anywhere. I can choose to stay away from food that triggers cravings, to stop drinking more than one or two drinks at a time, and to white knuckle my way out of the land of french fries and nachos.

Throughout the last six months, I have caved a few times to these binges. I will go through the week pretty well, and then go on a trip where one trip out to dinner with a few poor choices turns into a weekend full of overeating. I don’t even know how to track it, so I don’t try. When I get back “on the wagon”, it is more difficult than it was before to get through a day within my allotted points and I feel like an addict jonesing for a fix. It has become more a problem recently, where it seemed like every weekend I would have a “cheat day” (or two) where I didn’t track.

This has definitely gotten in the way of my weight loss, and my feelings of control. To help myself work on kicking this habit, I created a 30 days Binge Free challenge. I’m allowed to have a high point day! To eat a yummy dessert! To go out for a few drinks. But I need to track it all and to follow whatever plan I have created for myself. And I’ve discovered, planning is key. Without a plan it is so easy for me to make a bad choice, and one bad choice often snowballs.

So far, I’m on day 9 of 30! It has been really good. I have stared down temptation and done well. I know that success breeds success, so I’m hoping that the accomplishment of 30 days binge free will just be a starting point. As an added incentive, my sister’s wedding is coming up in Ireland on May 20th so I have that as motivation to stay on track and look great in all those wedding pictures.