This is Part 4 of the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting.
In Part 4, we will talk about experiencing binge urges after you have resumed eating enough.
We have already discussed that extreme dieting (under-eating) sends signals to your brain to binge eat, that binge eating becomes a habit, and that eating more throughout the day (ending under-eating) can dramatically lesson urges to binge, thus, lessoning binges, periods of compensation, and the likelihood of future urges.
Eating enough for your body is an adjustment period. It takes trial and error to determine if you have had enough food if you have been in the habit of under-eating. Often it will feel like you are overeating when you begin to eat enough. Your body may need some time to adjust to eating enough so be very kind to yourself during this period. Accept the transition as one that will help you stop binge eating.
This approach should help to encourage you!
The tricky part of binge urges is that while they begin as a survival mechanism your brain uses to keep you from starving, once activated, they become an automatic desire (urge) that is strengthened each time you obey it (each time you binge).
So, every binge increases the likelihood that you will binge again.
This may seem like unfortunate news, but it doesn’t have to be!
Instead, this news can serve you well. Here is how:
When you feel the urge to binge you have two choices. Obey it or dismiss it. Since you already know that you do not want to obey it, you have to choose to dismiss it.
Part 3 of this series advocates eating more food throughout the day to lesson binge urges. Feeling full and satisfied by your meals definitely reduces the urge to binge, but because of the many emotional layers that are intertwined with the physical action of binge eating, you might find yourself still experiencing urges to binge after you resume a healthy diet.
There are a few things you can do to dismiss the urge to binge that do not take much time and do not require a big fuss:
Ask yourself if you are physically hungry. Physical hunger is located below the neck. It’s a sensation in your stomach. It’s a natural and non-threatening feeling that serves to keep you nourished and energetic throughout the day.
If your answer is that you are physically hungry–eat!
This is a simple solution that does not need alot of time, therapy, or work. It only requires some food (or patience for you to get some food. You may have to hold out until eating food is an option).
If you are not physically hungry, simply notice the urge to eat more (to binge eat).
When you notice the urge to binge, you are aware that your brain is sending signals to binge even though you are not physically hungry.
This can feel frustrating so the next thing to do is to accept the urge to binge.
Accept it? But that sounds like giving up! Like surrender!
It isn’t. Not even close. Accepting an urge is the kindest thing you can do for yourself in this situation. Notice it. Feel it (as uncomfortable as it is). Accept it. It is not you. It is a signal your brain has been habituated to send. Accept it.
How can you accept it?
Many ways. You can silently (or even aloud) tell yourself that even though you feel the urge to binge eat right now, you are choosing to focus on whatever other task is in front of you in this moment.
You can breath deeply and imagine the urge being lessoned and becoming further and further away with every exhale.
You can remind yourself that your are being strengthened to stop binge eating in this very moment that you choose to not binge eat. This is a rational and positive approach, but not necessary to stop binge eating.
None of these approaches require anything outside of yourself. You do not need any special tools. You do not need to go anywhere, or call anyone, or make any public announcements about your urge.
Just choose to not binge, accept the temporary discomfort of not giving into a meaningless urge, and if you wish, remind yourself that you are getting better at stopping the binge eating habit.
Then witness what happens next:
It goes away. It loses it’s distracting presence. It fades. It isn’t something you want anymore.
This approach has been incredibly helpful for me. After I resumed eating enough for my body, my binge urges lessoned dramatically, but I would still experience them from time to time. Sometimes it was because I really needed to eat more food, but sometimes it was totally random. In those moments, I had to choose how to move forward.
Modern therapy might encourage you to have a list of things to do for when an urge presents itself. You might be told to journal, or call a friend, or take a walk, or paint your nails, or go for a drive. These are all pleasant ideas, but not always an option if you have responsibilities other than breaking your habit to binge.
It is not always an option to go for a walk. What if you are at work? You cannot always call a friend. What if they are out of the country? And the worse (in my opinion) is painting your nails. Who wants to paint their nails when they are feeling an urge to binge? I could never get behind that idea.
In my experience, I found that I didn’t even want to do any of those things when I had the urge to binge. All I wanted to do was binge. Going for a walk or getting involved in anything else besides eating was not my concern at all.
After I chose to stop binge eating, I wanted an approach to use anytime and anywhere, and I didn’t want to make it such a big deal that I was resisting an urge. I didn’t want to pay any more attention to it than it was worth.
Accepting my binge urges helped me do this and I think it is worth trying if you find yourself experiencing urges to binge after you are eating enough.
It may feel funny at first, but all new things do.
It is worth trying because it might change your life for the better.
Next we will explore ways that make it easier to accept binge urges.
So, what do you think about choosing to accept the urge to binge? Have you tried this already Did your urge lesson? If it persisted, was it because you really needed to eat more food? What finally led your urge to pass?
Please share your experiences by leaving a comment!
Image from Tumblr.