Is what I'm doing binge eating/drinking?
November 6, 2007 4:36 PM   Subscribe

How do I know if what I'm doing is binge eating/drinking? More explanation after the jump.

What is defined as binge eating/drinking.
Sometimes when I come home from work I'll order a large pizza and eat half of it and drink a bottle of wine in one sitting (by myself), I did this tonight. I don't do it all the times, nor do I have a crazy desire to do it. Sometimes I even only eat once a day, today I ate twice including the pizza.
What's too much? I don't sneak food, or anything like that.
I'm 22, just under six feet tall and wight 190 pounds. I'd say I'm about 10 pounds over weight for my body type (no clue what my BMI is, nor do I trust it).
I'm a helicopter flight instructor so my weight is a factor in my job. In high school I weighed 230 and when I started my helicopter flight training I lost 40 pounds, down to 180, via Atkins. I still try to follow the diet, when I can but my schedule kind of precludes following it all that well.
I just moved to Florida (the other side of the country form my family and friends) and I live alone. I don't cook for myself as much as I should. Not because I don't like it but because I get sick of eating the same thing over and over (eggs for breakfast, chicken and broccoli for dinner). So I order pizza or get fast food instead.
It's not like I have no will power or whatever you would call it to not eat my diet, it's mostly that when I get home from work it's easier to call in an order for pizza then to make some food.
Is this still binge eating, and I have a problem?
Is the whole bottle of wine (sometimes four Henneikens when I'm really off my diet) a night binge drinking?
Do I have a problem?
posted by blackout to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would say that eating half a large pizza is not binge eating. If you ate the whole pizza, then some garlic bread, then started going through the fridge for leftovers, then followed up by eating a whole container of ice cream despite the fact you were feeling full already, you would have a problem.

Likewise with the alcohol, a bottle of wine is quite a bit but if you don't do it very often then I doubt it's a problem. If you were doing it nightly, you would want to watch out.
posted by tomble at 4:43 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might want to check into getting a crock pot/slow cooker and spend some time learning to use it. You can set things up in the moring, or the night before, and let it slowly cook all day. Here are a ton of recipes. Then you have a perfect home-cooked meal ready when you get home. I don't think you have a problem, I just think it's a shame to waste a good wine on pizza.
posted by Eringatang at 4:51 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Convenience and laziness rather than binge anything. The alcohol is maybe a bit much for one sitting, but not especially problematic. Sounds like your whole lifestyle could do with a revamp - more exercise, healthy eating - less junk food, less atkins diet. On a positive note, leaning to cook is great fun, and at least you are dissatisfied enough to come here and question the way you live, even if it might be somewhat off the mark (IMO.)
posted by fire&wings at 4:56 PM on November 6, 2007

a bottle of wine is four glasses. All those silly lecturey pamphlets we used to get in college defined "binge drinking" as five or more drinks in a sitting.

And anyway, i don't think it's a meaningful term. There are people who can't handle even one drink- the amount you drink doesn't make you an alcoholic- having a dependency on alcohol makes you an alcoholic. Drinking a bottle of wine every single day might not be the greatest thing in the world, but you're not doing it every day.

I'm like you in the sense that I order food way more than I should. I wouldn't call it a binge, but I know I'm not doing wonders for my health, because restaurants tend to use a ton of fat- that's why it tastes so much better than what you cook for yourself.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:00 PM on November 6, 2007

There's not really a predetermined amount for binge eating; a "binge" could be anywhere from a pint of ice cream to two dozen donuts in one sitting, depending on the beholder. The whole healthy eating/disordered eating/eating disorder spectrum is kinda blurry.

It becomes a problem if you're attaching emotional weight to the food that you're eating, or if you feel like you are losing control while eating it and can't stop. It doesn't sound like either is the case for you.

A bottle of wine and half a large pizza sounds like a pretty tasty dinner to me -- provided you keep it a rare occurrence, only once or twice a month.

I agree with fire&wings: you're not a binge eater, you're a convenience eater. Stock up your kitchen with a big variety of stuff you like and that's good for you and easy to fix. You'll have something on hand when you're hungry and you won't fall into the trap of "well, I'm ordering out, might as well get the large; well, I got a large, might as well keep eating."
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:00 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

From Wikipedia:

Binge eating disorder (BED), is a psychiatric disorder in which a subject shows the following symptoms:

* Periodically does not exercise control over consumption of food
* Eats an unusually large amount of food at one time -- more than a normal person would eat in the same amount of time.
* Eats much more quickly during binge episodes than during normal eating episodes
* Eats until physically uncomfortable
* Eats large amounts of food even when they are not really hungry
* Usually eats alone during binge eating episodes, in order to avoid discovery of the disorder
* Often eats alone during periods of normal eating, owing to feelings of embarrassment about food
* Feels disgusted, depressed, or guilty after binge eating

Seems like this doesn't really apply to you. I do think you have unhealthy eating habits, but that's different than having an eating disorder.
posted by number9dream at 5:02 PM on November 6, 2007

Binge eating and emotional eating are two different things. You might start thinking about the possibility that you are seeking comfort in food. I think most people do to some extent and it's not always a problem. It might be a problem if you feel like you don't have control over what you're eating. Planning your meals more carefully might help...make more of your own meals, save the pizza for a specific occasion (which could just be "Saturday night").
posted by cabingirl at 5:09 PM on November 6, 2007

Why not make a ton of food on the weekend and then reheat it during the week. Or buy stuff you can heat up in the microwave - and they don't need to be TV dinners or Chef-Boyardee - here are some ideas

- Minute Rice or Mashed Potatoes
- Pre-seasoned rice
- Pre-marinated chicken, beef or pork - just pop it in the oven at 350-ish for 20 min and you are good to go.
- Hearty stews
- Hearty soups
- Good quality TV dinners (the healthy choice ones)
- Fish filets (you can bake em in 20 minutes)
- Canned oranges (yummy!)
- milkshakes (1 scoop ice cream, 1.5 cups skim milk, stirred not shaken!)

When I worked as a bike courier, I would come home, put some fries and fish filets in the oven, take a nice shower, and by the time I towelled off, my food was ready!

Then before I got married, I used to make tons of pasta and tons of meat sauce (or meat with sauce in it!) and would simply need to reheat it when it came time to eat.
posted by bitteroldman at 5:12 PM on November 6, 2007

As others have said, this doesn't really sound like binge eating to me. Half a pizza isn't really that much for a guy your age to eat. When I was that age half of a large pizza was basically an appetizer, and I'm not (nor was I then) a big guy.

This, on the other hand, is binge eating.
posted by dersins at 5:14 PM on November 6, 2007

Over what period of time do you drink the wine? About four hours? One drink per hour is proper, the gold standard for proper drinking behaviour, definitely not binging. Much more than that, enough to get you woozy, you are starting to overload your system and getting into binge territory.
posted by Listener at 5:16 PM on November 6, 2007

Response by poster: I started drinking the bottle of wine around 5:40 pm, and just finished it about 5 minutes ago, ~8:10pm.
I drank a bottle of wine last night, but prior to that I hadn't drank a drop, for well over a week.
posted by blackout at 5:19 PM on November 6, 2007

Best answer: enough to get you woozy, you are starting to overload your system and getting into binge territory.

This is twaddle. That would mean that anyone who has ever drunk enough to feel its effects has (or had) a problem with binge drinking. That's frankly ridiculous.

Getting drunk every night? A problem. Getting drunk every other night? Probably still a problem. Getting drunk on occasion? Normal adult human behavior, regardless of what the support-group namby-pamby-ers would have you believe.

My apologies for using both "twaddle" and "namby-pamby" in the same comment, but I couldn't restrain myself.
posted by dersins at 5:23 PM on November 6, 2007

I will join the crowd saying that this doesn't sound like binge eating. I've gone through phases in my life where I ate very little during the day (due to time restrictions, etc.) and then I'd eat a huge pile of stuff for dinner. It wasn't a binge, per se, and it wasn't an abnormally huge pile, it was just me catching up on what I *should* have been eating in smaller doses through the day.

This weight maintenance calculator says that someone of your height and weight and a moderate activity level (yours may be higher, I don't know what kind of activity is involved in helicopter flight instructing) needs about 2500 calories a day. The Dominos nutrition information for a normal crust, one-topping cheese pizza works out to about 300 calories a slice, or 1200 for half a large pizza. A bottle of wine has roughly 625 calories. Your dinner works out to about 1800 calories total, or about 3/4 of your total targeted caloric intake.

I wouldn't call it healthy, exactly, but I sure wouldn't call that a binge.
posted by fuzzbean at 5:28 PM on November 6, 2007

Nthing "not bingeing." What tomble said in his 1st paragraph is binge eating. (Especially if you top it off with a box of cookies.)
posted by iguanapolitico at 5:31 PM on November 6, 2007

It doesn't sound excessive, but you did ask.

Some would say that if you're using this pizza and wine as an emotional crutch it's not great, even if objectively it's not all that big a deal. Think about that a bit.
posted by zadcat at 6:01 PM on November 6, 2007

I had a roommate that used to binge and trust me you aren't a binge eater. She would occasionally eat until she nearly threw up (and she must have a couple times). She would do things like have two venti frappuccinos in a row after having a massive meal at a restaurant, and then probably go home and eat whatever sweets she could find. She was only slightly heavy and she didn't do it that often, but yeah binge eating isn't finishing the Ben and Jerry's in one night. It just really sounds like you've gotten into some bad eating habits and now you crave that quantity of food/alcohol on a regular basis. Probably if you devoted like two weeks to eating healthy, your body wouldn't be demanding half a pizza and you would be satisfied with eating a normal amount every day.

I also wouldn't say you are binge drinking, especially for someone your size. Probably wouldn't hurt to cut back a little for your health and the calories, but I wouldn't be that concerned.
posted by whoaali at 6:05 PM on November 6, 2007

I think if you're asking yourself "am I binge eating", you're probably not.

Just like crazy people don't wonder if they're crazy... in their heads they are the most normal people in the world!

If you were really out of control, your behavior would seem to be completely normal... just like a drunk can wake up in a gutter and not have any idea that there is something wrong with waking up face down on a public street caked in your own vomit.
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 7:05 PM on November 6, 2007

Best answer: Not really binge territory. If there's pizza left, you're far outside the boundaries.

You may be overeating/drinking due to hunger or low blood sugar, though, if you're prone to skipping meals. You are kind of carb-bombing with pizza and wine, but it doesn't sound pathological.

I find pizza to be one of the easiest ways to kill a bottle of wine. Mmm salty wine-friendly food.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:08 PM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

> This is twaddle. That would mean that anyone who has ever drunk enough to feel its effects has (or had) a problem with binge drinking. That's frankly ridiculous.

Sorry, but I was defining what one binge is. One binge has effects on the organs, but yes, you are right, it doesn't mean someone has a problem with binge drinking. Not twaddle though. Hmph.
posted by Listener at 7:40 PM on November 6, 2007

order a large pizza and eat half of it and drink a bottle of wine in one sitting (by myself)

That sounds like a very pleasant evening to me.

re. "You might start thinking about the possibility that you are seeking comfort in food" -- yeah, like the rest of the planet. Infants: breast, adults: wine and pizza.

Post another question if you start turning into a lardass or a drunk, but for crying out loud, a bottle and a half pizza? Relax and enjoy.
posted by kmennie at 8:00 PM on November 6, 2007

At a glance, no, this is not binge behavior. Binge eating can't really be defined in concrete terms (one more potato chip and it's a binge; eating x calories in one sitting; etc) but is based more on emotion. Feeling out of control when eating, unclear recollection while you were eating, very heavy feelings of guilt and remorse after eating (with possible action to "punish" oneself for the binge). To me, you just sound like someone who takes advantage of a cheap meal you don't have to cook for yourself, with the added benefit of comfort food. You're fine.
posted by sephira at 8:19 PM on November 6, 2007

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