Allow yourself to binge if you have to

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. Read more

Why do you binge? (the binge eating cycle)

Why do you binge? Why can’t you stop eating? No, do not look at me, as if you’ll think I’m going to give you the answer. The answer is in you!

Before you read on, read The difference between binge eating and emotional eating, so we are on the same page about the precise definitions.

binge eating

What and why of binge eating

For years, I hoped to find out WHAT I should eat to lose weight. I did not understand yet, that this quest only made things worse. I hoped for a simple answer, like “broccoli.” But I always received difficult ones like “work on your stress levels besides eating broccoli.” I hated those demanding answers and chose to keep on struggling.

But when I slowly, but surely redirected my focus toward WHY I eat, I saw I had to focus on different things than food. I needed to become very honest about everything in my life. Looking back, I understand what was going on, but when you are in the middle of it, you can’t.

Cycle upon cycle

If you are a regular binge-eater, you know that many binge eating attacks stem from chaos to which you reply with chaos. Something happens that triggers your emotions, and you respond to those triggers by eating uncontrollably.

Food is patient and always there. But when the stress comes down, and you feel a bit better, your inner critic starts to play up. This situation leads to another stress cycle, and gradually you end up in a vicious circle that stems from automatic behavior. You eat without even knowing why you eat. That can continue for so long that you forget the original reason why. That is why it is why so many men and women shrug their shoulders when I ask them: Why do you have binge eating? They don’t know (anymore).

Calling for attention

When you feel the urge to binge eat, your soul asks for attention. It is a sign that something is out of alignment. What is needed is that you need to become more present to understand when things go out of alignment. Secondly, the urge to eat is also an invitation to be curious about what is going on. Let’s not dive into the food right away, but try to build in a pause to be interested in what wants to be seen, heard, or felt – something that does not get that attention now.

Since I love journaling, here are some questions you can work with:

  • Which feeling is so overwhelming that you can not put it into words (yet)? Is it sadness, anger, depression, loneliness, or something else?
  • In which life area do you feel you have no control?
  • Where in your body do you feel that emotion connected to this situation?
  • What is your body trying to tell you?
  • What are you telling your body with these eating habits?
  • What would be a better message to your body?
  • What is your deepest desire, which you have not yet fulfilled?
  • Is this desire in any way connected to how you handle your food?

Usually, I’d say that there are no wrong answers to these questions, but actually, there is. Binge eating because you refuse to answer these questions is the wrong answer. Eating will even deny what you feel and will only cause you to eat more. By not taking half an hour of a somewhat painful reality check, will give your body the feeling that it does not matter. In the end, it will stop giving you signals, and turn against you.

The real problem

You know, your eating habits, nor your weight, are the problem you need to deal with. You’d say that it is, but in reality, it is not. They are only a sign that you are dealing with a different, more significant problem that is hidden underneath. There is a problem below the problem of overeating. What are you covering up with overeating – refusing to look at? As long as you do that, your recovery of binge eating will be more difficult. It is also why losing sustainable weight loss is so tricky. Because of this, I use tarot cards to uncover these issues.

Causes of binge eating

But when you focus on the issue below your binge eating, you may find one or more causes of binge eating, that we can divide into three broad groups:

Malnutrition

If you have been on a diet for a long time, you have been eating less than your body needs for a long time. Eating chronically and structurally less food for months or even years, also means that you may have a chronic and structural shortage of proper nutrients. Did you know that 1200 kcal is the bare minimum of energy with which you can even get the bare minimum of nutrients in a day? So many women eat this or even less than this.

If you restrict for a long time, your body will be screaming for nutrients. Your body is smarter than you will think, and it will make sure it gets what it needs to survive. Besides that, your thyroid can turn down its productivity with a lot of damage as a result. Your body calls it survival, and we call it an annoying binge. To solve this, you need to eat at least 1500 kcals a day. Eat a minimum of a pound of vegetables (preferably a pound an half) and two pieces of fruit. Also, make sure you eat enough protein. Choose 2/3 of your protein needs from plant-based sources and the rest animal-based. Also, choose small amounts of complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. People, let’s stop cutting out healthy foods.

Lack of stress release

If you look at the illustration of the eating cycle below, you will see which role stress plays in the eating cycle. It starts and ends with stress. Stress, in whatever form, lies at the root of every binge, whether it is physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual stress. That is because, when you feel at home in your body, you will probably have no binge issues.

binge cycle

Personally, when I have a binge attack, there is always some form of exhaustion. Based on my more deep-seated beliefs, I find it hard to take a break, let alone taking a whole day off. For me, the solution lies in relaxation. That is why I have implemented several small energy assessments divide in the day. Besides that, I need to follow the no sugar and no flour line rather strictly, be authentic about my emotions and go to bed early. Another aspect to keep in mind is that I can’t work in the evening.

Lack of control or perfectionism

Besides that, as a recovering perfectionist, I also need to decide when what I create is good enough. I have noticed how I am not alone in this. Many binge eaters are perfectionists as well. To be perfect and to deliver an ideal job, asks for a lot of checks. This challenge is a real job, which often is no fun at all.

Do not let your perfectionism fool you. Sure, it may not be easy, but all that control makes you so anxious! After that, all you want is food. Understanding how stress works helps you to understand that you need to break through it. But that’s what life is. Growth requires a form of pain. Without it, you would have no reason to change. Whatever you struggle with, food is not going to solve any of it. You will not feel less shame or guilt, nor will it solve the confusion. Food does not connect you to what you are craving. Try it next time and see that it doesn’t work.

How to break through this to stop binge eating

In the end, you need to show and speak out about what you need. You don’t have to do that angrily. Just say it neutrally and concisely. It is a start to breaking the binge cycle.

As of now, I have an incredible new offer to work on issues like this: Voxer Mentoring. With it, you can work with me for a day, where we talk to each other using the Voxer app. With this kind of mentoring, you get the chance to mull over things I propose, or you can take an hour to journal about the thoughts that come up. Until the 31st of August 2020, you get 50% off.

The difference between binging and emotional eating

In my conversations with my clients, I notice that there is a lot of uncertainty about the difference between binge eating and emotional eating. If you search the Internet, you will see that many websites are not clear about it. They use the terms of emotional eating, binge eating, and eating disorders interchangeably. In reality, there is a lot of difference between these forms of food abuse. Read more

How the moon phases affect binge eating

Have you ever thought about how the moon phases affect your binge eating? Well, there is “something” there. Your energy, your mood, and behavior are affected more than you think. Read more

How to stop binging

To avert a binge can be quite a job. Once you get in the mood to eat, it is hard to stop binging. Often your binge starts with an urge to eat. This urge can originate from an emotional trigger but also a thought, a habit, a sound, a smell, or even an image of food. By the time we have bitten off that first bite, it is hard to stop.

Looking at how a binge starts, we often see that there are at least two parts inside of you:

  • your True Self, the part that is wise and always wants the best for you, and feels upset that it happened again; and
  • your Saboteur, the part that is sly and seems to care less, and has so many tricks up its sleeve that we sometimes feel powerless over our food.

Who’s talking?

It is essential to understand who’s talking inside. As an example: a few days ago, I was driving home from a client when I started to think about how I would pass my street and go to the supermarket to get myself some goodies (as I call them). The thought started quietly in a hidden corner of my mind. Before I became actively aware of the voice, I noticed I was getting restless and felt tired. Then when it became louder and more convincing, I actively started to device a plan to make it happen.

You have worked very hard. You have deserved it, and above all: you have been good for so long!”, the voice said to me. On and on it went. It had some damn good reasons why I should get food.

The corner to my street came closer and closer. The voice became louder and even more convincing. At some point, it made up its mind to do it. Who cares? F*** it!

stop binging

Restless

But it also made me restless. Driving on past my street felt kind of… not good. I knew I would feel guilty later on. Besides that, I also knew that my stomach would look ridiculously bloated tomorrow if I would eat what I was going to eat in a few minutes.

I contemplated parking my car on the side of the road to think about it. Was this really what I wanted? The question made me aware of that other part of me that felt as if it was holding its breath. Let us face it; it was a moment of choice.

I wanted it

While an annoyed and slow “No” came up, a sad, heavy feeling moved through my body. It was not what I wanted. But I also did want it. I truly wanted the food. But the feeling of not wanting it was a tad bigger.

My street came up next, and at the last second, I hit the break and smoothly turned the corner. Sad tears rimmed in my eyes. As I started talking to that sad part of me, I said while I turned into our driveway: “Park your car, get inside, sit down, rest and then make yourself a nice cup of tea. If you still need to eat after you have had some rest and drank some tea, you can go to the supermarket”.

No victories

For a short moment, an upset voice yelled: “You always do this!” before the angry feeling settled down. I parked my car, took my bag, and walked over to the house. I took my coat off and sat down on the couch. I wanted to feel victorious, but I did not. I was sad about not getting what I wanted. From another perspective, I observed my feelings and could only feel compassion for what I was going through.

Compassion

Understanding that there are two parts in you is an important aspect of the solution to binging. They both want to take the lead, only the way they do it is drastically different. While the Saboteur often uses words, the True Self comes from a deeper, more silent world of feelings. Because you may not be aware of these feelings, you may notice them too late. Those feelings are played out on a deeper level of which you need to become aware. Creating awareness asks for a lot of practice, and most of all, compassion; every time again.

Plan B to stop binging

The second aspect of healing is to keep a Plan B about how to stop binging. This solution is something you need to think about very deeply before you decide about it. For many food addicts, it is an option that is unworkable. For me, a black and white no means getting stuck in a corner that I cannot escape from. Having a Plan B does not mean I need to use it. It is an option I can think about as an option when things get heated about wanting to eat. But I have also set a rule about when I can activate Plan B. I first need to have written in my journal until there is no more. If that does not do the trick, I can eat.

But you know, since I have set that rule, I have not needed to use Plan B after Plan A. So I get inside the house, make myself a cup of tea and get my journal to write about my day and why I think eating is an option. I write until there is no more urge.

Not a feeble lie

It is not a feeble lie to that Saboteur part. I mean it that I can eat if nothing else works. The thing is, it works for me. By now, I have learned that between sitting in that corner of the couch and walking out of the supermarket with my stash, there are many moments of decisions and actions I need to take. One is to first write in my journal.

Yes, my True Self knows how it works.

Let me know in the comments what you found out about yourself or send me a message if you have a question.

Photo by Sushil Nash on Unsplash

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