This is Part 5 of the Series: Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.
You can read the previous posts to this series by clicking on the link above.
Part 1 presented the idea that binge urges follow periods of dieting (under-eating). Part 2 listed physical and mental signs of under-eating. Part 3 gave samples of what under-eating might look like and Part 4 offered suggestions for eating more (eating enough) to reduce urges to binge.
In this final post for this series, Part 5, I will write about urges to binge after you are eating enough. I wrote about this in the previous Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting, Part 4.
Take a moment to read that post as it supports what is being written now.
For those people who have stopped dieting, are eating enough, and are still experiencing urges to binge, it is worth exploring something that will be very annoying for only a little while:
Urges to binge may have become a normal signal your brain sends to you in multiple situations that have nothing to do with needing to eat more.
It may be a habitual urge your body experiences.
Here is why:
Your first binge is truly an act of physical survival. Your body is starved from under-eating, so your brains sends you overwhelming urges to eat.
You respond by eating as if it has been weeks since you have had a bite of anything. It can feel frantic, rushed, right, and wrong all at once. You can feel relieved and regretful at the same time, proving binge eating to be a very complex behavior.
After your first binge, you return to your usual senses, and likely to a period of under-eating to compensate for eating so much.
This perpetuates the cycle of binge eating, and it is all it takes to turn one act of binge eating into a habit.
Binge eating is a habit.
The next time you binge, it might be for the very same reason as the first time–under-eating. And the next time might be the same as well.
But now the brain is establishing connections between you and your environment when you binge eat. Now it is not only about actually needing food, but also about whatever is happening in your life when you binge.
This could be, but is not limited to:
- A time of the day.
- A day of the week.
- When you are alone and able to binge.
- When you have eaten a particular food and then binged.
- Before an activity.
- After an activity.
- Near a holiday.
- When you visit specific people.
- At a specific restaurant or cafe.
- At a social event.
- After a period of stress.
- During a celebration.
It also connects binge eating with how you feel emotionally when you binge, and this could be:
Do you see that signals to binge eat can be sent in any context once its habit is established?
You could be stressed for an exam or happy about an upcoming party and feel an urge to binge simply because your brain tied the two situations together from a past experience.
At this point it might seem like a lost cause to try to stop your habit, because it interferes with so much of your life, but don’t lose hope. You can change any habit at any time, no matter how long it has been taking place!
I hesitated to list all of the times and feelings you will encounter that may have a memory of bingeing tied to it because it is basically all of them, if you have been bingeing for a long time (or even a short time). I wanted to list them to show how varied they are and how they really have nothing to do with the urge to binge.
Because urges have become a habitual signal you feel, your brain will continue to send signals to do something you no longer need (and haven’t since you resumed eating enough) when you encounter a time or feeling you had when you were dieting and bingeing until you stop obeying them.
This is why it will be very frustrating when you decide to stop binge eating.
Eating more throughout the day will certainly help to reduce urges to binge, but if you have a history of binge eating, like I did for 10 years, you are going to have to do more than just change your diet to include more nutrient dense food.
You are going to have to decide to not give any credit or additional thought to the urge to binge.
This is so important for stopping binge eating.
When you experience the urge to binge and you are not physically hungry, do nothing about it.
Don’t try to figure out why you have the urge. Don’t feel badly about it. Don’t try to manipulate the urge to mean something more than what it does. It is just a habitual urge you feel. Don’t assume it means anything.
The minute you start to engage with the urge is when it starts to influence you to act on it.
It does this by using your own language to convince you that you really need to binge.
You might say to yourself, “Just one bite won’t hurt“, or “I have been so good all week, so I deserve to have this“, or “I need a little fun in my life“, knowing that you don’t really want one bite (you want them all), and you’re not a dog who deserves treats, and if you wanted to have fun, you could go fly a kite.
Have you ever said these things to yourself before a binge? I have. They are pretty silly, but very common to think (or even say aloud) in response to an urge to binge.
If you start to engage in this thinking, you will likely binge–unless you put a stop to engaging with the urge right away.
When you hear yourself thinking about giving into an urge to binge, decide to recognize what is happening, accept it as something you will not do, then move on with your life.
This is not white-knuckling it or using willpower to not notice your urge to binge.
This is just not giving the urge your attention or respect.
It’s a meaningless feeling and it doesn’t deserve any more of your time.
Try it once.
Prove to yourself that you can do it.
Celebrate each time you do.
Then do it again. And again. And again.
It gets easier, and urges start to lose their intensity. The come, they go, they are forgotten.
Will you try this?
It will be very difficult at first.
But only at first. Just like any new habit, it becomes second nature soon, and it becomes simply what you do.
If you have been eating enough food for your body and you are experiencing urges to binge without being physically hungry, it may just be a habitual signal your brain is sending you, but it doesn’t mean anything, and it doesn’t have to be obeyed.
Begin to replace the memories you have bingeing with healthy and positive memories.
They add up quickly.
Will you try this?
It might change your life forever.
Leave a comment if you try this, there are so many people who can benefit from your courage!
This wraps up the Series: Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge. I hope it has been a practical source of information, and I hope you feel ready and inspired to stop dieting and stop binge eating.
You can do this!
Image from Etsy.