Lost Weight, Now Can’t Stop Bingeing

By October 11, 2012

I’ve been bingeing for the past 3 days and making myself sick. I can’t seem to stop and continue to binge even though I know how awful the last binge made me feel. I’ve recently lost about 15 lbs and weighed myself today and realized that I gained 4 lbs. in the 3 days of bingeing. Is that possible? It’s making me nervous how fast I’m able to put the weight back on and it’s making me want to eat more out of guilt that I had failed to control myself. I’m nervous about putting all the weight back on and I want to end my binge today so that doesn’t happen. How do I go about doing that. How much weight can you gain in 1 day of bingeing? – J.

Dear J.:

It sounds like you have fallen into a cycle that is making you miserable. When we put so much focus on our weight, we easily lose perspective of our overall health—physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

Let’s start by talking about your weight fluctuations. Without a medical evaluation and full nutritional assessment, I can’t give you a definite explanation for what you’ve experienced, but I will describe some general possibilities.

You don’t specify by what means you lost the weight prior to your episode of bingeing, but if it involved restricting carbohydrates, 5-10 pounds could have been water loss (as your body used up its stored form of glucose, in order to fuel your body). This is a temporary state, and the weight loss is deceptive. If this was the case for you, some of the weight was quickly regained when carbohydrate foods were reintroduced.

Your purging in addition to bingeing, however, makes matters more complicated. It’s very possible that you developed edema, which means the body is temporarily holding on to more fluid than it needs, due to electrolyte imbalances caused by vomiting. I highly advise you to see a medical doctor immediately for an exam.

I know your primary concern is the four pounds of gained weight, but think beyond that—about the physical harm of bingeing and purging. Electrolyte abnormalities can lead to muscle weakness, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, and seizures. You can damage your digestive system and erode the enamel of your teeth. In addition to the physical consequences, consider how mentally and emotionally distressed you have been as a result of this episode.

Wanting to stop your binge and writing to us is an important step in the right direction, but do it to take care of the whole you—body, mind and spirit. Binge eating is not simply a lack of will power or “failure to control” yourself. There are issues that need to be explored that are at the root of these episodes. I strongly urge you to seek professional counseling. See “Finding Treatment” for some guidance, and ask a trusted friend or family member to help you to follow through. There is hope and a healthy future ahead for you. Please write back to let us know how you’re doing.

With care and concern,