This is Part 5 of the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting.
In Part 5, we will explore approaches and practices that will help make resisting urges to binge easier.
We have already discussed that dieting (extreme under-eating) causes your brain to send signals to binge eat, that binge eating, due to its many emotional and physical consequences, is usually followed by a period of compensation (as if to undo the damage of eating so recklessly), and that resuming the original extreme diet serves to repeat the cycle of restriction, binge, and compensation.
We’ve gone over how eating more throughout the day will help lesson urges to binge, thus, reducing binge eating, and reducing periods of compensation.
And we have gone over how noticing and accepting urges to binge after you return to healthier eating habits will help to alleviate the frustration you may feel for still experiencing urges to binge.
Today I wanted to talk more about a very helpful part of accepting urges to binge:
This is to remind yourself that the feeling to binge is just a feeling. It is only a signal that your brain is used to sending. It doesn’t mean anything more than that. It feels uncomfortable, and it is distracting, but it will pass, and it doesn’t deserve any more attention or effort or public announcement than it takes to notice and accept it.
Choose to not act on a meaningless thought.
Then, be glad that you did not binge!
This part of stopping binge eating is often neglected, but it is a critical part of accepting urges to binge after you are eating enough and have decided to form new habits.
It may sound strange to remind yourself of these things, but if you have been binge eating for any length of time, it’s likely you have forgotten that not all thoughts must be acted upon.
We have many thoughts throughout the day. Most of them are habitual and serve to keep us on schedule. We think, “I will brush my teeth” after waking up, or “I’m leaving to go to work now“, or “I will do a load of laundry today“. These thoughts are quick and keep us on schedule, and we tend to not second guess them. If we did, we might not get very much done in any given day.
Other thoughts require much more research and attention, and we are lucky if we have the information and freedom to make our own choices regarding them (Where to go to college? Who to marry? What to do with my life?).
And then there are thoughts that seem to trip us up. They feel more like desires or urges and they can be confusing to experience.
These are the thoughts that we have, but don’t want to have, and they become greater in intensity every time they are entertained and acted upon.
For the sake of this blog post, we won’t get into all of those thoughts.
The urge to binge, however, after you have ended extreme dieting, and returned to eating enough food, is indeed, one of those thoughts so let’s keep it as our example.
You think bingeing is what you want to do, but you also know it is what you don’t want to do.
It can feel very confusing, and be a stumbling block if you don’t know how to make sense of it.
When you have the urge to binge, notice it and accept it as an old way to think that didn’t serve you well. That’s all it is (provided it is not a sign of true physical hunger).
You do not have to give this thought any more attention than this. It is simply an old signal the brain is still sending, but it gets weaker and weaker every time you do not respond to it. It fades. It goes away. It appears less. But it takes a bit of effort to stop giving it so much attention.
Try this just once, the next time you have the urge to binge:
Notice it, accept it as an old way to think, remind yourself you don’t binge eat anymore, and let it pass. You do this already, with lots of thoughts. Try it with binge eating.
And then be glad that you did not binge!
Positive reinforcement helps most people (and animals) continue on their path to better behavior. If it feels silly to give yourself positive reinforcement, you don’t have to, but there is nothing wrong with it and you might enjoy it.
I hope this is helpful. If you are struggling with binge eating, there is always a way out. There is always a way to stop. And it is always within you to stop. You don’t have to rely on external accountability or make a big deal out of stopping. You do not need expensive therapy, or years of self-exploration. You don’t need to right all of the wrongs from your past, or change anyone’s behavior, or do anything that is not only about stopping the action of obeying urges to binge. Some of these things may help to lesson the urge to binge, or may be beneficial to your intellectual and emotional growth, but they are not mandatory actions to stop binge eating.
You only have to choose to stop, accept that is will be a bit weird for awhile, remind yourself that you have stopped, and then be happy about it.
It’s a simple process and it gets easier and easier the more you do it.
And if you do choose to binge, the next time you have the urge, accept your fallibility, dust yourself off, and get right back to living your life with kindness and patience. Fail fast, don’t look back. Eat enough, replace old thinking with new, and try, try, again.
You are still lovable and there is still so much life to live.
Never give up. Always press on.
Does this seem like a doable approach to end binge eating? Is it something you think you will try the next time you have the urge to binge?
Leave a comment if you like!
Image from Rebloggy.