“You look too skinny.” Well, thank you very much for triggering a binge eating session by telling me that it’s OK for me to eat more. Many of my binge cycles have been started with this comment. It’s demoralizing too, because I worked really hard to get here and now you are telling me it was for nothing. Thanks a lot dumb ass!
“I’m concerned about your health.” This is usually when you have lost weight. Well, you weren’t very concerned about my health when I was overweight because you didn’t say anything then. Why have you all of a sudden taken an interest in my health? This is a veiled attempt at covering up for the previous comment.
“You should try (blank) diet.” Thanks, but this isn’t a weight control issue, it’s an eating disorder. Much like telling a bulimic person that they shouldn’t throw up, telling us to diet isn’t the source of our problems.
“I eat dessert every day, but only after dinner and a sensible portion.” Great, awesome, thanks for that sage advice. Again, what works for you clearly won’t work for me. One taste of dessert and I’m likely to eat the whole package, then drive to the store for another package plus potato chips, ice cream, and Hot Pockets.
“You should just practice portion control to limit your calories.” What part of binge eating don’t you understand! Oh, all of it!!! 90% of the time I use portion control like everybody else on the planet. It’s the 10% of the time where I have uncontrollable binges that I can’t control.
“I’m worried you might be anorexic (or bulimic).” I’m about to blow your mind, but the fact is, there are LOTS of eating disorders, not just anorexia and bulimia which have been publicized on TV. Are there only two types of cancer? Well, then logic dictates that there might be more than two eating disorders on this planet.
“You should exercise more.” Unfortunately, most people have such a limited understanding of eating disorders that they believe that burning more calories by exercise can overcome the calorie surplus created by binge eating. The facts are I would have to run a marathon and ride in the Tour de France every day to overcome the caloric intake related to several 5,000-10,000 calorie binges per week.
“You shouldn’t keep junk food in the house.” Seriously? Do you know what a car is? Do you know what a credit card is? We live in a society where most people are never more than 5 minutes from getting as much food as possible. Not keeping food in the house isn’t the issue. I need to be physically restrained when I binge eat to stop me. And it’s not just junk food. I can binge on anything from cookies to rice cakes.
“What do you eat when you binge?” How in the world is this going to help? You are basically asking me to humiliate myself in front of you. Because you can’t understand how a person can eat 10,000 calories in a day, after I explain it to you, you will think I’m disgusting and so will I. Thanks for that.
Not saying anything at all. There are a lot of dumb things you can say to a binge eater, but the worst is not saying anything at all. The truth is we are a sad, depressed, and ashamed people, especially when we are overweight. We shun society because of our embarrassment and all we want is to be is left alone. We push people away to make this easy for them. We wallow in our depression and literally feed our disorder, making things worse. Most of the time, we won’t accept help anyway. But you never know when a few kinds words might help someone who feels the crushing weight of the world and their own body, feel just a little bit better, to get out of bed and have a good day, even if you know they don’t want your help.