How I Was Able To Stop Binge Eating
I work with a lot of clients that struggle with Binge Eating.
If you’re in the thick of it, it can feel like you might spend the rest of your life stuck with this behavior which, can be the most terrifying thing about it, but in my personal and professional experience sometimes it’s incredibly simple and easy to fix given that the person does NOT have a serious Eating Disorder.
A little background story! Contrary to a lot of people I work with that have mothers that diet or have grown up trying various diets for weight loss, this was not part of my upbringing. Up until 19 years old, I had a super normal relationship with food and talks of thinner bodies and weight loss were never mentioned in our house. My mom was passionate about healthy eating but not from a weight loss standpoint, more so she was generally interested in holistic health which in my opinion is fine. As a child I loved broccoli but I also loved chips and had a salty tooth (is that even a thing?). In fact I can remember eating ice cream and being very thirsty after and not liking that feeling. Chocolate was something that tasted bitter to me. My family used to poke fun because if I had a few quarters from my weekly allowance I would go to the bodega and buy three small bags of chips. Onion rings, Dipsey doodles and Jalapeño chips! I never really thought too much about food or losing weight, even as a teenager. I can’t say my body image was perfect. I hated my big boobs but I had problems at home that stand out to me more when I look back at that time, than obsessing about being skinny.
Here is where the story changes.
I try my first diet when I’m 19 and following that I struggle with Binge Eating for six years straight.
Once I stop dieting and start Intuitive Eating, I never binged in the same way again. Like literally the day I started Intuitive Eating everything changed. Crazy right? Now let’s look at this timeline equation because I want you to put your own food habit puzzle together too.
I have a balanced relationship with food. Broccoli, chips, soda and salads are all part of my diet. I don’t like the way sugary foods taste. My weight is stable.
I Diet (which always involve restrictive eating)+Binge Eat (because of dieting) and I have a crazy relationship with food. I eat perfectly healthy for a small period of time. I even lose weight but then I binge on sugar+carb foods and gain weight. I end up even heavier than when I first started the diet. This makes me want to go back on a diet to lose the weight I gained from Binge Eating.
Now you can see the trap of the vicious cycle of dieting that people get stuck in for many many years or even lifetimes.
Do a little investigative work here!
When did you start binge eating? (ex: after I try my first diet)
What do you binge on? (ex: foods I’m not allowed to eat when I’m dieting)
What do you do after a binge? (ex: I start my diet all over again)
If your answers have the word diet in them, then you now know what the culprit is.
Below I share how I broke the cycle of dieting and stopped binge eating.
Awareness is the first step to change.
I learned about the concept of Intuitive Eating way before I stopped dieting but in a way the seed was planted so when I was ready it wasn’t totally foreign to me. I think it’s a good idea to read about it and then sit with it for a while before jumping in head first. This ensures that you don’t set unreasonable expectations because Intuitive Eating is not a crazy diet where you follow the rules and then have cheat days. The concept of Intuitive Eating is actually invested in seeing real change. The truth is, it takes a while to implement after years of dieting.
I decided to stop dieting.
Even though I had gained a lot of weight over that six year period this decision was the hardest and wisest thing I’ve ever done in terms of having a healthy relationship with food and my body. Simply put, I realized that the culprit of my Binge Eating was dieting and I desperately wanted to stop Binge Eating so I was willing to give up dieting.
I started eating all foods
I had been denying myself certain foods for years and these were the very foods I chose when I was Binge Eating because when we take them out of our diets it does something to our brain that actually makes us want it even more. I brought them back in to my diet, put them in my cabinets and sat down at a table when I was eating them. This helped me normalize sugar and carbs and eventually I stopped wanted them in crazy amounts and would just eat normal (ish) portions of them.
A GUIDE TO MAKING PEACE WITH SUGAR
I got to understand my mental thoughts+internal dialogue that actually caused me to binge.
There is something called the self sabotage mindset and it’s the mindset that says ‘f it, I don’t care if I finish this whole box of cookies, ill just start over tomorrow’. Have you heard yourself say this? In reality you say this to yourself more often than you realize and those thoughts can be incredibly detrimental to having a peaceful relationship with food. They essentially are not based in reality and they are tricky and sly. You must learn to challenge those beliefs by asking yourself, ‘is that true?’. Questioning untruthful inner beliefs can change your unwanted eating behaviors drastically.
I made a list called ‘other options’ for when I got the urge to binge.
This takes some planning but make a list of things you can do every time you get that urge. If you put time and space between you and the actual binge itself, something will shift in your brain where you realize that Binge Eating is not what you want. Over time, the more space you put between you and the binge, the urge to binge, will show up less and it can even go away completely. How great would that be?!
*When I say this it means you have to be in a place where you are not dieting because if you are dieting it can cause Binge Eating because of a biological hunger.
I told all of my loved ones that I had been struggling with Binge Eating and needed their support and help.
One of the most vicious things about Binge Eating is the shame you feel after a binge or the shame associated with having a total loss of control around food. Oftentimes, it is kept very private for fear of being judged. This creates an even bigger problem because shame cannot thrive with vulnerability in the picture (Brene Brown). Once we start to open up about it we don’t have to carry the heavy burden that is shame anymore. The first person I told was my younger sister Alte, who I trust the most in this world. She was amazing, incredible and supportive. From there I started being more vocal about it.
I learned about how my emotions were connected to Binge Eating.
I never ate for emotional reasons when I was growing up, but once that first binge happened it was like something shifted in my brain where I realized I could numb out with food, if I ate enough of it. A game changer for me was when I started acknowledging my feelings and actually worked through them without food.
I stopped trying to Stop Binge Eating perfectly.
When you first attempt to stop this behavior please understand that change is NOT linear. There is a step by step process of trying Intuitive eating and even working with a professional to heal your relationship with food. This is not a black and white practice. There are many bumps in the road. One bad meal will not change your outcome. It’s many good meals over a long period of time that really invoke true change.
*This blog post is for educational purposes only. This is not to be confused with medical advice.