- Food & Drink
An anxious plane journey two years ago was my turning point. I was sat in a back row seat watching the stewardess push a trolley of meals and snacks up the aisle, and I was panicking about how to get hold of enough food to just take the edge off. My best plan revolved around the guy sitting next to me getting up to go to the loo and maybe getting locked in, so I could order double and pretend it was for me and ‘my companion’.
He didn’t get up, selfish bastard. I had to make do with a sandwich and a family-sized bag of chocolate-covered pretzels. As I ate I told myself that this would do. This was my last moment of weakness. When I got back to the UK I’d be good. I’d eat like a normal person and I’d be happy. I was resolute.
I spent the rest of the flight planning which shops and cafes I’d go to when the plane landed and what I’d buy, feverishly imagining the moment when the real binging would begin.
At the airport I hopped between cafes, drinking coffee, eating dry blueberry muffins and choc chip cookies. It was not enough food, and it was the wrong food. I can be amazingly fussy during a binge. Gorge on the wrong thing (like blueberry muffins) and the urge doesn’t go away. It just becomes more demanding – stamping it’s feet like a demonic Veruca Salt and shouting: “But you promised me crisps and sandwiches!” So I stopped off at M&S and loaded up on wraps, rolls, crisps, plus a few sweets for variety. I ate them all on the train on the way home, grinding my way through each mouthful and filling my handbag with the wrappers and cartons. I was too embarrassed to put them in the bin.
When I got home, stiff with food and shame, I booked an appointment with my doctor. I told her I thought I had a problem with food: I eat too much. And not in few-too-many-biscuits kind of a way, but in a loaves of bread, boxes of cereal, packets of biscuits and doughnuts and crackers, blocks of cheese, jars of peanut butter and jam and marmalade, buckets of popcorn all at the same time kind of a way.
My doctor did what she could. I left the surgery with a book recommendation, a smudged, tear-bedraggled leaflet with the telephone number for our local mental health services on it, and a handful of tissues. That was 16 months ago. Since then I’ve been through a few rounds of interviews and blood tests and, at each stage, I was reassured that I do qualify for treatment (congratulations Miss Davis, you are mad!) but that I just need to wait. Six weeks ago I began a course of cognitive behavioural therapy designed to treat people with binge eating disorder, of which I am one. Hello.
This blog began many years ago as a food blog (and how much that has contributed to me developing an eating disorder is a question I’ll have to answer one day), so below is a recipe for porridge. During my saner phases – and also during my insaner ones – an anchor meal helps me stick to regular eating habits and avoid binges. This slightly bizarre breakfast (it contains chia seeds, for goodness sake) has often been my anchor.
My little sister, whose honesty about her diagnosis with binge eating disorder (BED) helped me admit I had a problem too, has written a blog post explaining what BED is. Click here to find out more. For help and information about eating disorders, the Beat website is a goldmine. And if you want to talk to somebody but your doctor, friends or family aren’t the right people just yet, they have a helpline you can ring: 0808 801 0677.
Porridge of a Disordered Mind
A handful of porridge oats
1 tsp ground linseeds
1 tsp chia seeds
200-250ml almond milk
A handful of berries
Tip the oats, linseeds and chia seeds into a small pan. Quarter the apple, slice out the core and then coarsely grate the apple. Add to the pan. Pour in the almond milk.
Set the pan on a medium heat and gently bring to the boil, stirring often. Once the porridge is boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for 3-5 mins till it has thickened a little.
Pour the porridge into a bowl. Top with a handful of berries and serve.