How big a binge

[eating disorders, description of binging, calorie numbers]

There was research released this week about how much exercise the human body can endure over the long term. Their conclusions were that people can expend two and a half times their resting metabolic rate consistently every day. Above that amount, tissue starts to break down and it isn’t sustainable.

The thing that interested me is that the limiting factor is how much energy the body can digest from food. That is around 4000 calories a day for the average person. You can physically eat more than that but the body can’t digest it. My binges, at their worst, can add up to 7000-8000 a day. That’s three or four big binges plus some other eating over the course of a day. These days, I don’t do any attempts at compensatory behavious like self-induced vomiting, use laxatives or fast. I do overexercise and restrict (diet). Just realised that I’ve written this all in the present tense. My attempt at intuitive eating feels so new that I don’t deserve to say that these things are in the past. I’ve not binged in ten days which is the longest for a long while for me and the binge urges are much more manageable as they are weaker and less frequent.

This screenshot shows my calorie intake from a week of binging this year:

Screenshot of the MyFitnessPal calorie counting app that shows my high calorie intake over a week of binging.

I gained around 5-7lbs that week once the water weight/bloat settled. It should have been more if I had digested all the food I ate. This research explains why.

Of course, the eating disordered part of me thinks “ooh, I can eat as much as I want and it won’t count”. A pound a day of weight gain still! I can’t exercise when I am eating that much as need to be near a toilet for the inevitable gut distress. Not to mention the intense negative thoughts and guilt and shame and self-hatred and suicidal thoughts and pain pain pain. No, the binging still would ‘count’. But it’s interesting to have outside confirmation of an effect I had noticed in my body and dismissed as me being stupid. I’m still aiming to not test it again though.

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