Allow yourself to binge if you have to

allow yourself to eat

I know, it sounds like weird advice from a binge recovery mentor: allow yourself to binge. But I mean it. Allow yourself to binge if you have tried to stop yourself but failed.

This was one of the first rules I set myself when I first started my recovery journey back in 2007. During those early years, I could not find the right help to conquer my disordered eating because I was too ashamed and felt too guilty to even talk about it. So I had to find my solutions by reading books and searching the Internet. It was hard, but still, I look back on those first years as the years of great discovery.

One thing that I had already implemented a couple of years before was the healing effect of journaling. Although I wasn’t fully aware yet, I did notice that once I stopped writing, I’d start to feel worse again. So something in journaling was helping me.

allow yourself to binge

When I wanted to stop binging (and as a result, stop purging), I knew I had to find ways to take the pressure off. The pressure would build during the day at work. I was not as assertive or self-confident as I am now (I’m still not really good at it, but compared to then, I have improved 200%). So I would often come home super tired and with a lot of resentment because people would ignore my boundaries. All I could do was eat it away and then punish myself by purging so I would not gain any weight. At least, that’s what I was telling myself, but reality showed that I was miserably failing at that.

The moment I would come home, the eating would start, purged somewhere in the middle, and then commenced eating to finish with another purge. It exhausted me, but I did not know where to go for help. It was my big secret.

At some point, I decided that when I’d come home, I’d take off my coat and sit down at the table immediately to write down what I was feeling and how awful I felt. I would do that before I opened the cupboards in search of food. I set the rule that I had to write down every horrendous detail of the day. To that, I added: if I’d still feel the need to binge afterward, I could.

But the funny thing was that when I had written for an hour or longer, the pressure was off. I was able to prepare myself a healthy dinner and eat that. I’ve filled journal after journal with words, tears, and snot. I still have them, but I have tucked them away nicely. If I’d wanted to read them, I could, but I don’t want to.

Allow yourself to binge: the effect.

Doing so, I was able to decrease the number of binges (per week) tremendously. And because I didn’t binge as often anymore, the reason to purge was gone as well. Allowing yourself to binge after you have written in your journal for an hour does not produce guilt, nor will it take as long as an unconscious binge will take. With the number of binges down, the purging entirely stopped because my main reason to purge was punishment and to undo what had happened.

It would be best if you were willing to write in your journal for as long as it’s needed. A “few lines a day journal” is not enough. For this, you must be willing to scribble your hurt, your frustration, and despair away until it doesn’t hurt anymore (for that day).

While you write, you will find out more about yourself than you’ve ever known, and based on this, you can decide to make critical decisions. Decisions that lay at the foundation for your reason to eat.

I mean, if you keep on writing about that one coworker, you might need to talk to them or to your boss (as I did). But I also found out how lonely I was and how I wanted to work somewhere else. I learned a lot about the “stuff” that made me eat, and I changed them over the years.

So yes, allow yourself to binge if you have to, but do it consciously and not before you’ve written down everything that makes you eat.

PS I’m going to re-implement this excellent technique on the days I tend to eat over “something.”

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