Trouble with impulsiveness and eating

I’m struggling with my weight…

During 2018-20 I lost 160 pounds because of a psychotic delusion. I starved myself because I believed that if I ate, I would go blind. I’m diabetic and made the mistake of watching a documentary about a couple who both lost their eyesight because they didn’t control their diabetes. Something clicked and I lost myself for 2yrs. I suffered because I was terrified that at any second, my eyes could go dark. I worried about everything that has to do with being blind and was scared to close my eyes. I spent hours online looking at places around the world, art, animals…etc. so I wouldn’t forget what they looked like. I looked for places that would take care of me and I looked into learning brail. I was a complete mess, but I believed 100% that I was going to go blind at any second.

About the middle of 2020, I started to come out of it. From that point on, I’ve been slowly gaining weight back because I just didn’t care. Door Dash came to town because of COVID, and it made it easy to order take out and that happened a lot. In 2021, I needed to go see my doctor for refills for my meds. I was terrified that I had gained too much weight back and that my Diabetes was way out of control. After getting a lot of support here, I got the courage to go. To my surprise, I found out that my Diabetes was considered controlled, and my doctor told me that I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted (I was already doing that) IF I controlled my weight. For some reason the part about controlling my weight went in one ear and out the other. I was enjoying eating things I hadn’t eaten since I was diagnosed in 2010.

This year, I went through an intensive therapy program. It was 6hrs, 5 days a week for a little over 2 months. They fed us breakfast and lunch with snacks in between at every break. 98% of what they fed us were carbs and calories. After the first month, I could feel the weight coming back and I started to get worried. Even though I could have brought my own food each day like someone else in my group did, I didn’t. They were also trying to figure out what anti-psychotics were going to work for me and the two I tried caused me to gain a lot of weight. I was very aware of all this, but one of the 9 BPD traits is impulsive, self-destructive behavior and it’s one of my biggest problems. Impulse eating is a huge struggle for me and even though I know I shouldn’t be eating something, I do it anyway because I can’t stop myself. I will obsess about the food until I just say fuck it who cares and eat it. Afterward, I feel like a failure.

I am a failure…

I promised myself I wouldn’t get over a certain weight again, EVER in my life… and I’m well over that number now. I feel out of control and I’m uncomfortable. I remember feeling so good being 145 pounds and I didn’t want to ever lose that… but I did.

I was talking to my mother the other day and she told me I must have willpower… but that’s not what this is about. It’s about being impulsive and not caring about the consequences. I’ve learned so much about nutrition since I was diagnosed with Diabetes. I know how to eat…

At the beginning of the month, my partner and I vowed that we would not order take out… not even once. So far, we haven’t… even though a couple times I almost did.

Tonight, after eating a big dinner and being disgusted with myself… I decided that I’m going to start limiting my calories and carbs. Sometimes I can fight an impulse if I really think about it, but most of the time the impulse wins. So, we’ll see how this goes.

How do I control these very intense impulses?

7 Likes

Hell no you’re not!!! You learn much more from setbacks than successes. You have learned that you need to adjust your weight management strategies.

Negative self-concept, especially with repeatedly affirmed with negative self talk, programs your subconscious brain to fulfill those negative expectations. Negative self judgment removes confidence and motivation. Self recrimination may seem to provide some motivation, but it tends to last only a few hours to a few days. On the other hand, self awareness and confidence can be permanent.

Forget being disgusted! Even if it’s something you don’t want to repeat, you might as well get your money’s worth out of the experience by enjoying it.

We are all individuals, so what works for me may not be the exact approach that you need.

I spent the first half of my life gaining and losing weight constantly. Sometimes I starved, smoked and drank it off. Other times, I would use a healthier approach. My weight range was between 250 and 132. About 15 years ago, I was overweight, out of shape, and the doctor wanted to put me on metformin, which is a medication for diabetes.

The thought of diabetes really got my attention too. I started exercising. At first, I became short of breath after walking one block. I kept pushing my limits, increasing my distance little by little until I was walking about 5 miles a day. Then I ran for a while, but decided continuing to do so would be too hard on my knees.

I quit sugar almost completely, using Stevia instead. I don’t remember if I stopped eating meat before I started exercising or not, but besides a few ounces of salmon once or twice a week, I still don’t do meat.

I have a large bowl of bran and a protein shake in the morning. In the evening, it’s vegetables, sometimes fake meat, sometimes pasta made from, I think, black beans. Oh yeah, I do shrimp sometimes too, also omelettes. I don’t do lunch, as I usually feel my breakfast until shortly before dinnertime. According to to calorie charts, I should have disappeared long ago.

Instead, for the past 15 years, my weight has remained between 140 and 144. Some would say that’s too thin, but I discovered it was easier to maintain that weight than if I weighed 150 or more. It seemed more like walking a tight rope when it came to maintaining a steady 150. I came to realize that my choice seem to be either to have a slow, insidious weight gain, or stay on the thin side. I’ve always heard about weight “setpoints,” as a reason for people to have a hard time losing weight, but apparently there is a set point on the lean side too.

One thing I believe made a huge difference. I stopped using social gatherings or special occasions as an excuse to consume larger meals. Yes, sometimes I got the question, “is that all your eating?” Then I would say something about having a large breakfast or having been obliged to eat something at someone else’s house.

Nowadays, it seems like my eating habits coincide with my version of OCD.

Ever since I started eating the way I do, and exercising, my hemoglobin A1c lab shows that my blood sugar is very well under control.

Associating the word “fight” with impulse, or “battling” it, is actually attributing more power to the impulse than it deserves. In a sense, you’re actually telling the impulse to fight back. It’s better to turn away from it, or decide to do something different. In my experience, cravings can be really distracting, but usually the worst part of them fades in 10 or 20 minutes. In your mind, you can visualize yourself with your arms folded, staring the craving directly in the eyes, and tapping your foot, until the craving loses its nerve and departs.

It’s not an issue of willpower. It has more to do with self understanding, self nurturing, and self compassion. You have done nothing wrong. With some things, the only way to learn is through trial and error. Don’t hold that against yourself.

Please stay in touch.

2 Likes

Hey there friend,

Thank you so much for trusting us with your story. You are such a wonderful, kind, all-around amazing individual and have been such an inspiration to work with in SWAT. This sounds like such a tricky situation and I’m sorry that you’re going through it.

I want to start by highlighting some of the many accomplishments you mentioned in your post. You took the initiative to seek therapy and get the help you needed. You went to the doctor, despite your fears. I’m serious when I call you a success and an inspiration. Because that’s what you are. You are going through so much, yet you continue to have the kindness and compassion to support others. You are putting so much effort into so many things, and you are succeeding in more ways than you realize; you managed to avoid ordering take out for two weeks successfully! All that you’ve gone through and handled should be a source of pride, not dismay.

Also, this isn’t a matter of simple willpower. Willpower doesn’t stop anti-psychotics from causing weight gain, and it certainly can’t perfectly quell any desire for food. But, at the same time, this isn’t about “being impulsive and not caring about the consequences”. It’s natural to want food and to eat more than may be ideal. I’m a diabetic too (type one, which is a bit different if you’re type two, but there still are some limitations on food) and I’ve certainly consumed food that I probably shouldn’t have.

This is all a long way of saying that you are not a failure. With time, you can build healthier eating habits and can get back to a healthier place. And sure, you may encounter some setbacks along the way, but that’s okay too.

I also want to congratulate you on recognizing that you may need to start limiting your carbohydrate and calorie intake. That’s certainly a step in the right direction if you’re looking to lose some weight.

While I can’t tell you how to control these “impulses” (and Wings, per usual, has great suggestions for that), I simply want to remind you that you are not a failure. You’re a valued member of this community and I’m glad that you decided to share this with us.

<3 Tuna

2 Likes

I get it Rosie, we spend a LOT of time together and we talk about so many different things and I think we have a pretty good understanding of what we want eachother to know about, Your my very very good friend and we talk about food a lot. lol, Im prob the last person who can give you advice on controling impulses but I do want to tell you that you are no faliure - not even touching the hem of the garment of the coat that faliure is wearing. Both you and I use food for just about every emotion, if you feel good, lets celebrate with something nice to eat, if you feel bad lets have something nice to eat to feel better.
When you feel like crap a lot and lets face it, feeling unwell, being in pain, dealing with everyday life and its struggles, some people can manage quite nicely (dont you just hate them) others turn to something that they think makes them feel better, whether it be drugs, drink, food, collecting things, spending etc etc, oh gosh I have 2 of those gotta stop spending damn it. Anyway back to you, we turn to those things especially food because its easy, its an easy and nice fix and its not about willpower its about wanting to feel good for a few minutes even if you feel rubbish after, the good outweighs the bad (excuse the pun) “sticky bunnnnn that makes me feel so good inside” followed by “that was a really stupid disgusting thing to do oooooo there is another one left” and if you are unhappy and dont love yourself why say no right??

I guess the only real answer is to find something that makes you feel better than that! and actually you do have a wonderful reason see this through, to find that strength so I know you can do this, I would love you to put a picture on your computer of your son and fiance when they got engaged to look at when you feel and impulse think about that wedding day and how you want to be your best self. I think you are beautiful but I want you to feel that way. Ive got your back xxx

3 Likes

I haven’t just learned this, I already knew it. I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life. I’ve been on many diets, learned about nutrition/fitness in a class I took, have had a nutritionist sit down with me a couple times and teach me how to read nutrition labels and she taught me a lot about how to eat as a Diabetic. I already know how to adjust my diet and what I need to do.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could just flip a switch and turn off all the programing my father did to me to make me believe that I’m a fat dumb ass who has no willpower? Of course, I know that I shouldn’t devalue myself with self-criticism. I don’t like myself and a lot of things must change in my head to fix that.

Or maybe not fill my plate up with 3 times the food that I need? I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here.

That’s right. At present, I’m unable to exercise enough to make a difference and I don’t have any equipment like a stationary bike that can help. I didn’t exercise at all when I lost the 160 pounds. I just ate very few calories in a day.

Growing up, I was very active in sports. I played Softball throughout my whole teenage years into high school. I cycled long distance 50–80-mile rides in my late teens and early 20s. I’ve had times in my life where I did exercise but now, I live in pain and exercise is just not something I can do. There are probably some things I can do, but I haven’t looked into it.

That’s what I’m on and have been since 2010. I was on insulin for 3yrs but losing weight helped and I haven’t needed it for years. My first A1C test was almost 13 and in three months I lowered it down to 6.5 and my doctor was blown away. I know how to eat, Wings. I know how to keep my sugar under control, I know what foods to eat and what not to eat. I know everything I need to know about Diabetes and how to manage it. My last A1C was 5.6 which is the lower side of pre-diabetic.

None of that makes a difference if you can’t control your impulsive behavior.

I appreciate your suggestions and the time it took to reply but, this isn’t regular impulsivity that I can just “turn away from” or distract myself to get past. This is a serious symptom that takes a lot of therapy and coping skills I don’t have yet to overcome. To be honest, I don’t usually have time to think about it, I just do it and it’s not till after that I realize what I’ve done. Sometimes, if I do catch myself, like I said in my original post, I will obsess about it and usually give in because it’s distressing. Impulsivity and emotional dysregulation are core features of BPD.

2 Likes

This means a lot. Thank you for your encouraging and thoughtful reply.

2 Likes

Hi Rosie,
thank you for sharing. i also might not be someone who can give you an advice on this.
i am a stress eater, when at work and everything it getting too much, i kind of “need” a snack.
thats something i also can’t overcome.
what i did years ago was a nutritioning program, what you also have mentioned and did.
i lost over 70 lbs since that, slowly but steady and holding weight for a time, then lost some pounds.
it took me so much discipline doing this, but i am quite happy with my weight.
right now i am adjusting my eating, to get everything i need. i also struggle with that sometimes, but then
on another day its going better then.
what i can tell you for sure is that you are not a failure. everyone struggles, thats human. that is absolute
normal. you are an amazing, beautiful human, with a big and strong, kind heart. even going through all of that in your life, you are helping others, you are there for your family. with your encouragement here at
Heart Support, we are all, i am so grateful that we have someone like you here. your posts and responses
are wonderful, brave with sharing also your experiences, kind and heartwarming. you are an absolute gift
for us here. i am proud knowing you, i am proud of you and thankful what you do here.
thank you Rosie, from the bottom of my heart. stay strong and YOU matter. you are loved.
lovely greetings and feel hugged.

1 Like

Right and when you don’t have the coping skills needed to manage these things, unhealthy or maladaptive coping take over. Smoking weed is something that I used to think helped me, but I know it doesn’t. I’m struggling with that too.

I think you’re right. Maybe I just need to learn how to love myself and that’ll fix everything.

This is actually a great idea. They are planning on getting married sometime in 2024 and that gives me plenty of time to lose the weight. It’s a good motivation and perhaps being in therapy right now is a good thing in that I’ll learn some coping skills that will help me get there.

ditto :hearts:

2 Likes

Yeah, it would be nice, but if you succeeded that way, wouldn’t it be frustrating to think you’d waited so long to do it? Yet flipping a switch doesn’t work, at least not without a lot of mental conditioning beforehand. You can’t just flip a switch and make much happen that isn’t powered by electricity. Is there no hope because you can’t flip a switch? You can’t flip a switch and make a cathedral appear, but you can build it a brick at a time. Freedom from negative childhood conditioning requires countless small steps, and it can take years, and residual triggers often remain.

I was sexually molested at school and at home. It was constantly reinforced that I deserved whatever happened to me. PTSD mimicked autism (at that time it fell under the umbrella of mental retardation) and I was taken out of school. I was an emotional eater throughout childhood, yet anemic due to the poor quality of food available. I had abscessed teeth, chronic strep throat and ear infections.

That’s the tip of the iceberg related to my history, but I can relate to the awareness that I can’t just flip a switch and manifest sudden change. Emotional damage doesn’t accommodate a switch flip fix. I can say that tiny bit by tiny bit, you can transfer control of your self-concept from the past to the best part of who you are now.

You are an absolute gift to this site. You are inspiring, supportive, empathetic and quite wise. I would trust you with my feelings and my life if it came down to it. As faithful of a friend as you’ve been to others, you need to be a friend to yourself. Love yourself even if you’ve fallen off the wagon and had three helpings of something. When you’re extending your compassion and support to others, you dig deep within and receive cues from your heart. When you can allow your heart to serve you in the same way, I suspect the tension that has led to the impulsive behavior will be diminished.

I wondered about the exercise thing. I just hoped it could help. I’ve had arthritis since age 11 when my brother threw me off a porch and my hips got damaged. They crunched when I walked after that, but for some reason improved around age 50. Still, sometimes the hip pain keeps me from sleeping. Sometimes I ache all over. Once in a while, I can’t walk very far. Fortunately, movement usually doesn’t make it worse.

Years ago, a symptom of Lyme’s disease caused me a balance disorder, which led me to physical therapy. I complained about the pain caused by the prescribed exercises. The guy didn’t seem very sympathetic. He told me the less movement I did, the less I’d be able to. Despite what he said, range of motion, my stride and body flexibility has decreased, but I’m pretty sure I’d be much worse off if hadn’t kept moving as much as I could.

You can only do what you can do. Even a tiny amount of movement helps.

It sounds like you’re committed, despite the setbacks. You’ve made your life far better than it would’ve been if you’d have given up.

There’s a lot of stuff that if it were in the house, I’d eat it, even if I knew better. Fortunately, I’m too reclusive to go out and buy the stuff I shouldn’t have anyway.

So giving in leads to distress, which leads to giving in. That’s why you need a different and self-nurturing response to break the cycle.

You mention not having enough time to think about it, and only realize after. Is it possible to arrange your circumstances in a way that gives you more time to think about it?

Keep in mind, you’re perfectly wonderful and a beautiful soul just as you are in this moment. Remember that when you start to feel stressed.

1 Like

Im with you Mystrose. Its been super hard for me to lose weight since I had Kiera. I ended up losing 35 lbs in a week or so and then it started coming back on.

I think I have some sort of binge eating disorder stemming from experiencing going days without eating (not by choice) and my family always findiing a reason to celebrate something by eating. I get very anxious now if my fridge isn’t full because of the time when I didn’t know if I’d eat again.

I probably am not the best person to give feedback given my own issues, but wanted to say you are not alone in this. While our circumstances are different, the struggle is similar.

I have been having problems exercising recently due to my cerebral palsy. In order to counter this I have a meal replacement shake for breakfast, a Healthy Choice meal for lunch and then I splurge on dinner. Granted, this probably isn’t the right way but I find that restricting my calories during the day and being able to look forward to a good sized dinner without going over my recommended calories has helped so far. The anticipation of a big dinner helps stave off the binging usually, but I’ve had to downright keep tempting foods out of the house because I would eat and eat and them immediately feel bad because I sabotaged my weight loss.

I do hope overtime you are able to overcome this viscious cycle. I am right there with you.

1 Like

Can’t be a failure, because you keep trying.
That’s the definition of a winner and a fighter.

There are plates out there that have sections on them (divided plates). Those are a great visual reminder of getting a mixture of foods in your meals.

You promised yourself you wouldn’t get to a certain stage, and now that you have, it’s a good time to use all the skills you have to get back to a place you’re happier with. The picture of the engagement is a great idea. I’d say to also write a list of the words for how you want to feel when you’re at certain weights.

Also, can u make some sort of snack that will be a healthier treat? Like pure fruit juice with water as frozen popsicles, or a black bean brownie bites? Based on what you can and shouldn’t eat too much, maybe you can have a salad always at hand, or carrots and other veggies that are fillling and take some time to chew and digest and can help you wait out the worst if the impulse?

2 Likes

Thank you for reminding me of this. :hrtlegolove:

1 Like

How the heck did you lose that much weight in one week? Holy cow.

Thank you @Sapphire for your support, it means a lot.

I did a little bit of research last night and to be honest, I don’t 100% fall into any of the eating disorder types. Emotional eating mixed with impulsiveness is the closest I can come to describing this. I used to think it was binge eating, but I don’t consume 5k + calories in one sitting and I never let myself feel overly full. I hate that feeling. Whatever this is, I’ve done it most of my life.

I’m sorry, that’s got to be really rough. The woman who lived across the street from us growing up had CP too and she paid me to vacuum her house twice a week for awhile. She eventually was confined to her wheelchair and had to move so she could get better care. She was so strong it amazed me. I bet you’re also very strong. :hrtlegolove:

2 Likes

The 35 lbs was baby + excess fluid (relatively normal with Noonan babies, as well as pre-eclampsia). But yea I was back to pre pregancy weight in 10 days. Ive gained roughly a pound a month since then.

Yea, I dont eat 5000 calories in one go either but it seems like once I start sometimes, I just cant stop eating. Eventually my rationality takes over and I do, but by then its usually too late.

As for the CP, its been humbling. Im no longer the invincible yung’un I used to be lol. But I understand my aches and ailments better and I have an excuse to not push myself other than, “You shouldnt do that”.

You’re so welcome for the support, Im glad its helpful.

2 Likes

Calories are spooky things. They can sneak up on you. A teaspoon of butter a day equals over 3 pounds of weight gain in a year. Over time, seemingly insignificant food sources can put the pounds on. For example, cream or coffee creamer is good for about 6 pounds a year. An extra condiment here and there has the same effect.

I don’t count calories though, however when I assessed my intake for a while, I came to realize that it was rarely over 1500. Experts say that’s not enough to live on, but I’ve been doing it for 15 years. Instead of calorie counting, I “titrated” my intake. In other words, by trial and error, I figured out what it would take to keep my weight steady.

As I mentioned earlier, or maybe in a different post, my weight used to go up and down drastically. It was like that for over half a century. Hence, I doubt that anyone was more surprised than me when I succeeded in keeping my weight stable.

A couple of self observations may or may not be relevant to others, but these are a couple of things I learned about myself. I found that reducing intake by very small amounts at a time, allowed my body and mind to adjust and not feel deprived. For example, reducing portion size by one or two bites, then waiting a week or more before reducing it further. I also came to realize that having reduced intake, what I did eat was actually more satisfying and even tasted better. I also experienced less hunger between meals. These days, I almost never feel hungry before mealtime.

Early in my process, I figured out that after a large meal, I ended up really hungry a few hours later. That’s one reason why I don’t bother with large meals at social events or holiday celebrations. I realize that a large meal every now and then isn’t a big deal in itself. I could always compensate for it by reducing calories for a few days after. However, I don’t like how long it takes to get back on my regular schedule and be comfortable with it. Another issue is, after being on a very steady diet for so long, even a little bit of extra food makes me uncomfortable.

The incredible thing is, I don’t even slightly miss how I used to eat. I usually have a bit of dessert every day, like a scoop of ice cream, or some Stevia sweetened dark chocolate, and once in a while, Sue and I split a large vegan Cookie.

Maybe none of my experience feels applicable. We are all unique, therefore require solutions tailored to our needs. Still, sharing experience is a way of sharing ideas that may be adaptable to others.

1 Like

@Sita @Wings

Thank you for your posts. :hrtlegolove:

Learning how to eat or diet isn’t my issue.

I watched a video about self destructive and impulsive behavior for people with BPD this morning and they talked about how people with BPD feel pretty horrible most of the time (for me, especially when I’m alone) and we’ll do just about anything to feel good. To feel different. Be it risky sex, drugs, spending money or eating… we tend be pulled to the things that are dangerous or destructive for some reason (the rush maybe?).

Eating the way I have been is hurting me, it’s making me gain weight and prob causing my Diabetes to be an issue again. Even tho I know this, the impulse to just go get a cookie is pretty strong. The impulse to go to the dispensary is pretty strong. So strong that I don’t have the coping skills to stop.

They say that the only way to fix this is for me to find something healthy that can replace eating badly and smoking weed.

I think in my next therapy session this week, I’m going to ask if we can work on this.

2 Likes

Finding something healthy as a replacement is in line with my mention of “turning away” from something in favor of something else. I used to use what are theoretically “calorie negative foods.” Recently, it’s being said that such foods don’t exist, but I found some of the stuff on the list to be helpful. I found raw crunchy things - things that made noise inside my head when I chewed them to be satisfying, once I got used to them. There are some low calorie crackers I had once in a while, but more often it was carrots, celery and apples. If I get sufficiently involved in a hobby or project, I can forget to eat, even when I should.

Yeah, the consensus is that it involves dopamine. It’s often referred to as a “dopamine rush,” or an “endorphin rush.” It’s not limited to food. It can be any number of impulses. A common one is gambling. Having a creative outlet can also cause it to occur. I like to fix and restore old stuff. I also spend time listening to music, and at times restoring old recordings. I used to scan old photographs for my patients and restore them. That way, they have both the original and one that’s much more realistic.

I also find spending time here to be helpful too.