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Confessions of a “Moderate Binge Eater”

I’m a 23 on the Binge Eating Scale. Right smack dab in the middle of “indicating moderate binge eating.” Score one for me. I thought I’d be worse. Not that I much trust self-assessment tests like these, but it’s an interesting little experiment. There was a time in my life where I think I’d have scored much higher.

For the normal people — those who don’t struggle with food — all the yo-yo dieters out there must be fascinating to watch. I’ve witnessed people on an all-liquid diet, nothing-but-fruit diet, pound-of-hamburger-a-day-diet, and only-eat-egg diet. I’ve seen counting calories and running 8 miles a day do wonders, only to watch that person, or myself, go on a three-month binge of McDonald’s and put on all the weight again.

Mcdonald's sign at nightThere is feast, and then there is famine. Rinse. Repeat. And get fatter.

I used to go to McDonald’s late into the night. A typical order would be a Big Mac Meal with a large chocolate shake and two double cheeseburgers. That’s 2,660 calories. I’d eat that on top of my regular meals, stuffing my face when I should have been sleeping. Some days I’d even order more, and those 2000+ calories would just be an appetizer.

I got into working out and began running a few years ago. I’d keep up the healthy act for a few days. Then one night I’d strap on my running shoes and head to the gym. I’d drive across town and sit in their parking lot telling myself to get out and run my 8 miles. Then I’d turn around and head to the drive thru. When I got there I had to have it all.

It was all, or it was nothing. Feast or famine. And I got fatter.

When I was in college I took a class on rhetoric. “Who do you think is the easiest person to persuade?” the professor asked, drawing a line across the chalkboard. On one end he put a dot — the extreme left point of view. On the other end he put another dot — the extreme right point of view. The dot in the middle — the centrist.

“This is how most people imagine the spectrum of the argument,” he said. “But some would say that’s the wrong way to look at things.”

He then drew an almost-closed horseshoe shape. Again, with the extremist at the end and the centrist at the top of the circle. “Sometimes it may be easier, and a shorter distance, to convince someone who is passionately at one end of the spectrum to jump sides and passionately become an advocate for the other side.”


We see this all the time. Sometimes it’s politics. Sometimes it’s personal. Sometimes, he said, you see it in people trying to lose weight. The people in the center can be harder to move. They don’t always understand what it’s like at the fringes.

And that is how a 370 pound man decides to go vegan.

I’ve jumped back and forth my whole life. There is no “I’ll just eat one cookie.” There is no moderation. There is all, or there is nothing. So “moderate binge eater”? Score one for me. I’ll take it.


  1. thanks for sharing this.

  2. I tried to take that test, but it was worded so badly and had so many inconsistencies that I gave up. Something that poorly put together can’t be very scientific or useful.

    We know when we are extremists. For me, the important part is to see it, observe when I feel that panicky urge to jump from one end of the horseshoe to the other, and do my best to minimize the damage.

    In the “All or Nothing” category, you’ve changed the definition of “All.” That’s a triumph.

    • I thought the test was kinda dumb myself. Not sure if it’s still widely used, but I got the impression is was at some point from my few minutes of research.

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