It’s been a week since I wrote How to Stop Binging Part 1.
As I wrote in Part 1, the first step to healing any disorder is acceptance and acknowledgment of who you are as a person. Go back and read that article here before you continue on to this next part….
The next key to ending your binge eating disorder is crucial.
As you know, a binge is where you eat more food than you truly need or want in very large quantities, sometimes to the point of making you sick. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a junk food binger, or a health food binger, it still feels out of your control. Some individuals find themselves binging on “health” food…oatmeal, kale chips, coconut oil, organic and free range meat, smoothies, etc, because they are not feeding their souls the way they truly need to. Others may receive more comfort from sugar or salty foods like donuts, cake, ice cream, pizza, chips, etc, yet it’s still because something crucial is lacking from their life too.
Accept and acknowledge where you are in life regardless of what you’re eating. Your situation is yours alone, and nobody else’s. And what’s more? It’s okay. It’s okay, because you’re human. You’re not perfect, nor will you ever be.
But if you’re reading this, you’re obviously uncomfortable with using binging as a coping mechanism. You most likely want to find a different, more positive and enriching coping mechanism to turn to.
Here’s how to stop binging (part 2):
1. Take a break from nutrition-focused reading
If you’re a binger, you’re most likely also a restrictor (though not the case for everybody). But if you’re a restrictor, your desire to restrict is fed off of information you receive outside of internal cues. You’re getting information on how to restrict and what food is good / bad from stranger-people that have no idea what your metabolism is like, what your hormones are like, what you crave, what foods you don’t like, what makes your body feel best in the morning, your family life, your sex drive, or ANYTHING else for that matter. My advice for you is to take a break from reading articles online, whether it is a “health journal,” a blog (like those What I Ate Wednesday Posts on food blogs that inherently cause criticism and judgment), Instagram (no need to look at other people’s food), Twitter or Facebook. Just go MIA for awhile…I promise you’re not missing out on anything. What you will be missing out on is a chance to stop restricting for once, if you don’t take this break.
2. Eat the stuff you crave
Say it’s 2 PM and normally you would be having your daily not-so-tasty celery and spinach smoothie, but what you really want is a fat piece of cake. Why don’t you allow yourself to have it in that moment mindfully? What’s so unnatural about having daily indulgences instead of nightly binges?
This is when I hear: “But Madelyn, if I let myself have that cake during the day, then I’m going to end up eating 2 pieces. Then 3 pieces. Then I’ll have the whole thing!”
This is when I try to make my point. The only reason your body may cause you to eat more than you “logically” think is an okay amount is because you already have prejudgments made about what’s okay for you to eat, and what’s not. You are going into the process of eating cake with a dieter’s mindset already.
If you go into the process of eating your “binge food” during normal day hours with the mindset of “okay, but after this I will be good all day long” then you’re associating cake with bad. THIS is what causes the binge. Start eating the stuff you crave without judgements towards the food OR yourself.
3. Be mindful as you eat
The third part is to simply be mindful before you eat. I go over this process in detail in my program Body Freedom but it’s rather simple. Intuitive eating paired with mindful eating is optimal, but for now, let’s just start with mindful eating. For example, when you sit down with the cake, be fully present. Smell it. Touch it. Ponder why you’re eating it. Hunger? Memories? Emotions? That’s cool, whatever the reason may be. If it’s for emotional reason, dig deeper and think about what emotions you’re feeling and why. Think about some other ways that might massage the emotions better, like possibly confronting a problem head on, or writing a letter to get your feelings out better than just eating. If you’re sitting in front of the cake simply because you’re hungry, ponder how it’s going to make you feel. Think about the kind of energy it will, or will not, bring you. Keep in mind to be judgment-free the entire time.
The word for you right now is curiosity. As you think about why you’re wanting whatever food it is you want, allow yourself to be curious.
Curiosity is way better than “bravery” in this instance. Don’t try to be brave; be curious about your body and why it’s doing what it does. Wouldn’t understanding the why be so much more helpful than just trying to push past it?
4. Investigate what ends food has been trying (and failing) to meet
While ceasing the judgments you have towards food choices (and yourself) is a crucial part to ending your binging, there is another extremely important part of healing, and that is to find out what in your life is missing. In other words, why have you been turning to food in the first place? Why do you obsessively research food? Why do you restrict during the day? Why do you restrict during the week? Why are some foods allowed and some are not (regardless of whether or not you binge on them)?
Do you find yourself craving sweets? Maybe your life is missing sweetness. Maybe you don’t feel loved on a primal, emotional, physical, spiritual or mental level. Get out there and date. Dress yourself up in clothes you love. Eat only the foods you love. Feel sexy, feminine, gorgeous and smart. Give yourself the romantic feelings you deserve (with or without a partner).
Do you find comfort in the volume of a binge? Maybe your life isn’t full enough. Maybe there’s not enough activity, business, or joy consuming your days. Try something new. Explore. Go to a different city. Make time for arts, crafts, books, concerts, music, time in the park, a dog, volunteering, or dancing.
Do you find yourself controlling your food during the day and binging at night? Perhaps, you have a hard time allowing balance, and being okay with not always having control. Meditate. Practice yoga or simple breathing exercises. Read The Untethered Soul. Learn how to give up control. Go to church. Stop constantly thinking about how you can fix things.
Bonus- study chakras. This can certainly help you identify which chakra in your body needs to most attention. I have THIS book to help guide me on my chakra needs.
I think #4 is probably the most important. If you can figure out what gives you a “high” feeling, you’ll be so consumed and happy with this sensation, then you’ll eventually stop turning to food (because you’ll realize that’s the one thing that can’t truly solve your problems.)
If you notice, when I discuss my own journey on my podcast, the biggest change happened when I started eating the foods I craved AND got a dog, started dating again, created my podcast and moved cities. I was missing intimacy, companionship, a “greater” purpose, the outdoors and my intuition. When all those things came together…wow.
Turning to food, when you actually really just want to move cities and make new friends, is like putting a bandaid on a broken bone. It doesn’t help. At all. It might make you feel like it’s helping, but deep down you know a different action needs to take places.
Have questions or comments? Something else you’d like me to write about? Reach out.