Fast forward a few years to my early 20s. I was out of college and held a managerial position in fast food. I worked the breakfast/lunch shift, so my hours were from 6am – 4pm, with three days off. When I started, it was a struggle waking up at 5am to make breakfast at home and get to work on time. Once I did get to work, I was constantly on the go until about 2 o’clock p.m., just after the lunch rush.
One morning, I didn’t feel like getting up at 5 o’clock a.m. to make breakfast. I figured I’d sleep in and grab something to eat at work once I got there. I was surrounded by food all day, after all! So I hit the snooze button a few times, then rolled out of bed to get dressed and get to work. As soon as I walked in, the breakfast crowd started rolling in, so I grabbed a cup of coffee and knew I’d have to wait to eat breakfast after the rush. By 8 o’clock, I was HUNGRY. I felt like I was going to pass-out if I didn’t get something in me soon, but the breakfast rush was at its peak and I told myself I would have to wait.
Fortunately, the breakfast rush passed and I was finally able to make a breakfast sandwich for myself. To my surprise though, my intense hunger and fatigue had passed as well. I mean, I was still “hungry,” but not ravenous like I was an hour ago. I found this interesting and pondered it while I enjoyed by breakfast sandwich, which tasted so incredibly good! I thought back to high school when I used to skip breakfast and lunch, and only eat dinner. Perhaps I should try doing that again?
As soon as the thought entered my mind though, I slapped myself mentally as if I was about to touch something forbidden. I told myself that skipping meals was NOT good, and doing so would wreak havoc on my body and bring my metabolism to a halt. My body needed constant nourishment throughout the day, and depriving it of sustenance was cruel and would lead to disordered eating.
Despite my mental conflict though, I found myself naturally pushing my breakfast back further and further into the day. It was just so convenient to not have to worry about making breakfast in the mornings, or taking a 30 minute break to scarf down a meal that I couldn’t even enjoy. Eventually, my energy levels increased as well. I began hopping out of bed without any problems, and found myself flying through my 10-hour shifts. I would flit around the restaurant like a hummingbird on steroids cooking, taking inventory, unloading the truck, counting drawers and pretty much doing whatever needed to get done. Then after work, I would go home and cook or go out and eat whatever I felt like enjoying that day. It was great!
However, I still felt very conflicted over this lifestyle. My coworkers would pick on me for “not eating,” which really didn’t bother me. I would simply tell them that I wasn’t hungry and be done with it. What did bother me though, was when my family would comment on my eating patterns and shrinking frame. Although I was not trying to lose weight, I had in fact lost about 5-10lbs in the year after I left college. I weighed between 130 – 135lbs, which is perfectly healthy for a 5’6” frame, but my family members would tell me I wasn’t eating enough and was getting way too skinny.
Although I didn’t feel too skinny or weak or frail, I began to grow concerned myself. I knew I should be eating 3-5 times a day for optimal health, so why couldn’t I just do it? I knew why; because, when I did eat small meals all throughout the day, I would eventually lose control and then overeat. And not just once, or on special occasions, but every day! I hated that feeling of being out of control with my eating. It was so much easier to just eat something I really enjoyed at the end of the day, rather than try to control my eating throughout the entire day. I started thinking, “Maybe I have an eating disorder? Anorexia? Binge eating disorder? Is it even possible to have both? Why can’t I just eat like a normal human being?!”