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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 want to talk more

Photo by Sushil Nash on Unsplash