How to recover from breaking your bright lines

bright lines

Finding guidance when you keep breaking your bright lines in recovery. A (bright) line is one of the rules you follow when you recover from binge eating or food addiction. They are:

  • No sugar
  • No flour
  • Three nutritious meals a day
  • That meets the quantities rule.

It doesn’t matter whether or not they’ve broken a long streak of days or break them over and over. They all feel awful and want to give up. If this is you, read this article before you want to give up. Know that acting quickly is essential. The longer you procrastinate, the more chance you have to walk away from recovery altogether. Time is your friend.

First, and most important decision

The first thing to do is the best thing you can give yourself. Stay neutral. Don’t sweat it. Forget about getting angry at yourself or setting the intention to do things perfectly from now on. All of this is not going to help you. Look at your situation as if you were a scientist and look for data that you can log. Be factual and be quick to rezoom (in other words: to keep going as if you don’t know any better).

Crush it

The first thing you do is to throw away any food you have left. Throw it away, crush it, burn it, pour dishwashing soap on it. Do everything you can to prevent yourself from digging up the food from the trash can and eat it anyway.

Talk to your buddy

The second thing you do is to call or write your buddy or someone from your support group to tell them what has happened. No shame, no blame! Tell it factual: I broke my lines, and I feel awful. I’ve always told my buddy when I broke my lines. Okay, so I may have been a bit late sometimes, but in the end, I did. Not telling her felt worse than not telling. When you keep it a secret, you can’t change it. You hide in your deep dark stash of secrets.

Another reason to share is to force a breakthrough in the behavior you’ve always shown. To eat addictively, you often need a certain degree of isolation. So if you want to change, you need to create less opportunity to isolate yourself.

Journal about it

While not everybody likes journaling, you need to have a moment of contemplation after you have broken your bright lines. Journaling helps to dig deeper into your True Self to find out what happened and what you need to do to prevent the next binge. Whether or not you want to write it down is up to you, but I have always found it very helpful to write it because by writing it down, you integrate your solution better.

Preferably you start journaling when you notice the first food thoughts. I have done this for a long time (should implement it again), and it was super helpful. By the time I was done writing (sometimes it had taken over an hour to get all the crap out on paper), my urge to eat was gone. At some point, I even dared to challenge myself: “It is okay to binge until you have written in your journal.”

What triggers you?

When you start to take breaking your bright lines seriously, you will also find out how there are similarities in how your binges often start. Triggers often have a source somewhere inside of you: a thought, a feeling, some kind of behavior, social circle, or a health-related aspect. We think they come from without, but the opposite is real. Even when somebody does something that is triggering, it is still how you deal with the trigger. For me, being tired and physical pain triggers me. The moment I notice those aspects, I need to be more aware. I know this because I managed to look at my breaks as data instead of failures. Let’s look at the triggers:

  1. Thoughts

Did you have specific thoughts right before you gave in? Are they helpful thoughts, or are they sending you down the slippery slope? Is there are a voice inside, you saboteur, that tells you how okay it is right now to eat? Spoiler alert: it is not. How is that sabotaging part playing a role in this? Also, think about critiquing your program that can be a significant trigger.

  1. Feelings

Thoughts often come with certain feelings. How does a lack of willpower feel? Are you about to give up? How do you feel the minute before you get up and actively break your lines? Right before you give in. It’s not a great feeling, right?

  1. Behavior

Besides the thoughts and feelings, your behavior can also trigger a break. Think about how you may have certain friends that you keep meeting and who always bring food. Or think about how you may need to steer clear of the “goodie isle” in the supermarket, since seeing certain foods may be the same as buying them. But I’m also thinking about going to bed too late, working too hard, not drinking enough water, not planning your food, not having veggies in the fridge. There are so many things that can trigger you into giving up!

  1. Social

On the social level, you can look at how you may isolate yourself from others to create the opportunity to eat. At some point in my life, this caused me to be very lonely because all I did was eat, work, and sleep. You need uplifting people whom you can call when the temperature rises or who will listen to you when you come around from your food coma. It is for this reason that you need a recovery buddy. A buddy is on the same path as you. You support each other in making the right choices and to take your food plan commitment every day.

  1. Physical health

Lastly, ask yourself if you got triggered by something that happened in your physical health. Some people get very triggered when they are tired, struggle with specific physical ailments or pain. While I have seen many people overcome ailments like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Diabetes type 2, inflammation of the joints, and more, cutting out sugar and flour is not the be-all and end-all to your solution. In recovery, they give you a specific nutritional plan, but that plan is not automatically suitable for your physical ailments. Always check with your doctor and never follow a plan blindly. For some people, like myself, a weight loss plan is not the right program when they come from a restrictive background. If you continuously binge because you have only been dieting, your body is trying to tell you that it is hungry. Why else would it create eating opportunities so sneakily?  Whatever nutritional plan you receive, check it against your body’s needs. If you cannot handle dairy, then don’t eat dairy. If you don’t eat pork, then don’t eat pork. Or apples, cheese, peanuts, or whatever. You are the boss, and you know exactly how your body reacts to certain foods.

Forgiveness

Besides evaluating what went wrong, you need to forgive yourself. No, this is not some kind of soppy thing to do that is only suitable for fluffy-bunnies and unicorn-lovers. It is a necessary action, but many people forget to do it. Forgetting this can result in a build-up of resentment combined with feelings of guilt and shame that can become a reason to break your bright lines again and again. A straightforward forgiveness exercise is the Ho’oponopono where you connect with the situation that made you eat and then say the following sentences (preferably out loud):

  • I am sorry.
  • (Please) Forgive me.
  • Thank you.
  • I love you.

Read more about this technique and its background here.

Action Plan

To be honest, there is no rezoom or going back to whatever program without a plan. Sorry, but that’s the way it is. The least you can do is make sure that the next meal is planned and will tick all boxes on the list of bright meals, which means: no flour, no sugar, and a weighed meal so you cannot fall for the overeating addiction. Besides that, you need to make sure you have the quantities right, so make sure you have your food scale on the counter.

Besides that, go back to your big fat why, you ever started this recovery journey. Does it still feel right? I needed to change my big fat why at some point when I found out that it did not motivate me anymore. So, tell me: why are you on this journey? What drives you? Coming from that motivation, find out what is needed conditionally to help you move forward. Do you need to have a conversation with someone? Do you need to go to bed earlier? Or is there a certain food that you need to cut out of your plan? If you connect to your True Self, then you’ll know exactly what to do.

You’ll also want more self-care and an early night, because fighting food, giving in to food and overcoming a binge is hard work for your body, your mind, and soul.

Before you go to bed, make sure that your food for the next day is planned out and committed to your buddy. If you don’t have a buddy, commit to finding one as soon as possible. My recovery journey changed for the better after I found my buddy. Commit your food to your partner or a friend. The act of committing is not only telling them what you’re going to eat. It also entails that you tell them if you did.

Improving your bright lines

Understand that when you break your bright lines, you need to act fast. We all know that once we get stuck in the food, this can not only take a day, but it can derail us for a long time – if you’re unlucky for years. Don’t think that “you’ll rezoom tomorrow.” Rezoom today, right now. Do the work to prevent another break later in the day or tomorrow.

I understand how hard it can be to make the same old same old mistakes again. When you struggle with keeping your bright lines bright, then know that I am here for you to talk things through and get a new perspective on your situation. If possible we’ll create a plan that you can put in action. You’ll especially need this if creating the action is hard for you or if you find it hard to make changes. Find out what I can do for you and how you can work with me here.

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