Here I was again, staring down the empty tub of peanut butter in my hands. My heart pounding, my stomach so full it was in pain, and my back with the sweaties. A wave a guilt and shame washes over me, over my greasy hands and oil-coated metal spoon.
So much fat. so much carbs. so many calories.
I could literally feel the fat expand into my cheeks and thighs and that place between the boobs and armpit.
How did I let this happen again? I told myself I wasn’t going to go down this path.
If you’re familiar with this situation, you’re not alone. Binge eating and emotional eating is a rising crisis–the food addiction portion of it comes with a lot of stigma, but there’s no need to suffer alone. The first step is to understand why you binge(and here’s 13 reasons why!). Following that, I think it’s only natural to now learn how to stop.
1. Surf the urge
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in therapy, it is that feelings come and go. No single state of being is indefinite, and that is the same case with urges and cravings! They can sure last a while and their intensity could be strong, but know that with ever wave that comes crashing down on you, the tide will calm again and the feelings will disappear…and then it will rise again. And then it will fall again. I take this opportunity to either busy myself with something else that requires my attention, or practice mindfulness. Close your eyes, notice the tempting thoughts that come, the sympathetic nervous system activating (heart racing, the clammy hands, the frown in your eyebrows), notice it all and just don’t judge it. Say to yourself, “Okay, my mind is thinking of that brownie sitting in the fridge right now.” Urges won’t last forever, no matter how strong they are. The more often we learn to surf the urge instead of acting upon it, the more we can break the ingrained neurochemistry of the habit.
2. Eat Slower
Binging is fast and furious. At least, a lot of times that’s what it was like for me, if not; constant and consistent grazing. Chances when we are binging, we’re not chewing our food optimally because we don’t have the patience or we are not focused on liquefying our food before swallowing it. Learning to eat mindfully is a tool not just for us binge eaters but for the majority of the world to adopt habitually because of its health benefits. Here’s my one tip to ensuring that our very next meal, whatever it is, a slower, more thoughtful one!
Our digestive systems will thank us too. =)
3. Journal the feelings
Going back to the surfing the urge tactic, what I suggest you do is grab a journal (and I know, it’s hard to do right in the moment because all you can think about is the food) and write down your thoughts as they pass, holding no emotional attachment or judgement towards any thoughts. Think of them like clouds–you watch them pass by but that’s all they do–float around. I generally write little thoughts in the back of my life planner/agenda and review them in my nighttime routine.
4. Give Grace
It’s so important that in this recovery process that we give ourselves some grace! Not all days will be good, and not all days will be perfect. If we expect a smooth recovery, we are only fooling ourselves and setting ourselves up for rumination and self-sabotage (either through deprecating thoughts or resorting to binge eating all over again! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried on the bedroom floor in a fetal position in pain–and not just from the stomach but also in my heart). There is no such thing (well, I’d hate to say never say never because miracles do happen, but–) as linear recovery. Success is paved through small victories, and small victories are done through small actions. Don’t discount the positives.
The most common “screw up” I find in clients is that they overate, ate mindlessly, or ate emotionally. Now, that’s a WHOLE LOT better than binging! Ultimately, we want to be able to control the food, and not have food control us and a lot of that involves eating intuitively (stopping when we’re satisfied; not full)–that’s the ultimate destination. A step towards that destination is simply not binging, so all these other types of eating behavior may occur in the process. Congratulations! We’ve moved a step forward.
We will fall on our faces more than once. Heck, we’ll fall on our faces 99% of the time, I’m willing to bet. But what’s more important is the resilience we own as human beings–the ability to get right back up and battle whatever obstacle comes our way. A river cuts through stone not because of its strength, but its resilience.
5. Get yourself a coach.
There is no doubt that coaching is one of the best tools life tools. Much like an athlete has a coach for achieve their performance goals, a lifestyle or diet coach will help you keep yourself accountable, clarify your goals, and facilitate a self-healing process. This is different from having a therapist that just talks about feelings and psychodynamics (don’t get me wrong, those are important components of any kind of recovery, especially with addiction, but what’s with all the talk and no action? It’s not future-oriented?)–coaches are more practical in their approach through creating awareness, clarity, and action. While many coaches come in certain tastes and personalities, I personally love a blend of humanistic, behavioral, and spiritual tactics. Getting coached through your recovery process is one of the best tools you can ever give yourself.
Having the right coach in your corner allows you to see another perspective, consider questions you would never normally consider, be challenged in a powerful way, and ensure that the growth that comes from feeling safe (not just comfortable) occurs. A good coach doesn’t let you off the hook; they hold you accountable to be the best version of yourself and believe in your potential.
Binge eating is one of the worst demons I’ve ever had to face, and I’ll be honest–I still face it even today. I am much stronger than before and I’ve stopped the binging from ruling my life because I’ve learned to have control over it, than have it control me. I specialize in diet coaching, freeing women and young girls from the diet crazies–wouldn’t that be nice for a change to not have to life in fear of food and social settings, and start thriving in life? No, you don’t have to become “fat”, or “give up your goals”, I believe you shouldn’t have to compromise anything you want in life just because certain situations hold you back. With a little help, you can have everything you desire–never feel that you must limit yourself.
If this post spoke to you, send me an email at [email protected] and we can connect and have a discovery chat (think of it like a virtual date at a virtual coffee shop called google hangouts, haha!) about your history with food addiction and binge eating. ?
I believe in you. I am sending so much light and love. There is nothing you cannot handle and you cannot break through–that is the power you harness.
(this was also a guest post on Consumer Health Digest)