Most of us have at one point or another eaten too much, especially at a party or around the holidays (I’m looking at you Thanksgiving) but that is different from having binge eating disorder or being a binge eater.
Binger eating is characterized by consuming lots of food, in a short period of time and often past the point of being comfortably full. If you are overweight people might overlook the disordered eating and advise you to diet and exercise which could exacerbate the problem.
Not all individuals with the disorder are overweight but no matter your size living with this disorder is emotionally exhausting and very depressing.
People suffering in silence see their health decline and their hope of normal eating fade. But I say to hell with fading. I want you to know that there is hope and I have been there before and you can overcome it.
As you may or may not know I was a binge eater and bullimic for 10 years of my life. The behavior was so shameful for me and I felt very depressed but the truth is I wasn’t alone. And you are not either. Binge eating effects millions of people in the United States, prodominetly women.
Often the desire to binge is uncontrollable, it feels intense like someone else is acting out the behavior, not our true selves. If it’s something that reoccurs then you could be dealing with binge eating disorder or BED. Its a real thing and often goes hand in hand with depression and anxiety. Niether of which I am stranger too.
To know if you or someone you know is dealing with the disorder these are some of the common traits:
- Feeling of lack of control and that one cannot stop eating despite feeling full, even uncomfortably full
- Eating large amounts of food regardlesss of hunger level
- Eating alone or hiding food due to embarrassment and shame about one’s eating
- Feeling disgust and intense guilt after eating
- Eating until feeling physically sick from fullness
- Binge eating disorder is not associated with any compensatory behaviors such as purging, laxative use, or exercising to purge (that is bullimia) but in my non-doctor opinion they are related and very similar.
This behavior is related to providing comfort after stressful situations or can be used as a coping mechinism for truama but leaves us more depressed afterwards. Generally we feel shitter then before yet this behavior is cyclical often happeneing over and over again despite our best efforts and desire to stop it.
Some of the most common personality traits of a person suffering from BED:
- Low selfesteem
- Overly consumed with weight and shape
- Depressive attitude
Why Do We Binge?
There are many reasons why binge eating can occur. Acknowledging the behavior and figuring out the patterns can be an important first step to breaking the cycle.
If you are a constant yo-yo dieter, it can be caused by living in a diet mentality; that there of “good foods” and “bad foods” and eating one bite of food from the bad food list throws us off the hinges resulting in a crazy binge. Its hard for us with this mentality to have 1 cookie because the guilt is over barring so we throw in the towel and eat the whole box.
Or if you restrict calories during the day your body thinks that you might be in a famine and it makes you extremely hormornally hungry as a means for survival. Have you ever had intense cravings for simple carbohydrates (think cakes, chips, cookies, french fries, ice cream)? That is because it is the fastest form of fuel for the body but those foods spike our blood sugar, make us cranky and often leave us craving more and more.
Our biology does not know that we are restricting our energy intake by restricting calories, it thinks there is a food shortage and thats often why you become ravernous and eat anything in site. Its not a lack of willpower its literally your biololgy trying to help you “survive.” This is why eating balanced meals throughout the day is important. You set yourself up to binge if you don’t.
However, you could have a more serious underlying emotional issue that you haven’t dealt with and instead of filling yourself up with self love, compassion and forgiveness for yourself or others, you fill yourself up with food. But the repreive is temporary… which you might already now.
Whatever might be at the root of the behavior there are tips you can try to help heal and change the way you relate to food and yourself.
5 TIPS TO CHANGE THE BEHAVIOR
These are tips that worked for me in the past when I was on the road to recovery and they just might work for you too.
Whenever you feel a binge come one, slow the eff down. Binges are characteristically frantic, fast and uncontrollable. So literally just stop, take 3-5 big deep breaths and think about your current state both mentally and physically.
Are you physically hungry? Emotionally hungry? Are you bored, upset, are you acting out of habit? If you need to, go on a short walk or call a friend to break up the routine behavior.
Slow down and get present to what is going on inside of you. Are you feeling guilt, shame, sadness, loneliness, like your not good enough? Sit with how you are feeling and then take action to nourish yourself. Consciously choose to interupt the behavior, journal the emotions or take notes in your iphone like I do.
TALK TO SOMEONE
This might be the most important one. Get out of your head and into the world with what is going on. When we are in a monolgue with ourselves we can often be like a hamstar running in circles on the wheel. We keep moving but never seem to get anywhere new. Getting into a dialogue with another person can open you up to a different path.
Find a friend, family member, therapist or a health coach like me to talk to. Talking things through can be extremely healing, it can help uncover patterns, emotions, behaviors and help us see what we are dealing with from a new perscpective. I believe that finally opening up to someone about what I was dealing with was the pivotal moment that lead to my healing.
TAKE NOTE OF THE TRIGGER
If you are about to binge, in the middle of one or just finished one, ask yourself if there was a trigger that set of the chain of events. Are you calorie and energy deficient from restricting yourself all day? Is the habitual behavior brought on by emotions that you haven’t dealt with head on? Did you have a particularly stressful day at work or is your home life uncomfortable? Start to see if there is a pattern in your behavior that leads you to down the road to a binge.
If you do know the trigger, asking yourself about it. What about that situation or person sets you off? What does it ignite in you? What feels and emotions does it bring up? Get introspective and get specific.
When you think about your situation and relationship with food what do you see? Now, what do you WANT to see? Setting an intention will help you create clarity around what you want to change and how you will change it. Setting an intention for yourself is like drawing a map for where you want to go and what you want to create. It becomes the driving force of your higher consciousness and is something you can revisit everyday. I like to write intentions and reminders on my bathroom mirror so that I see and read them every morning and everytime I use the the bathroom throughout the day. And often any time anyone is over they will see them and then it can spark up a really great conversation fostering community which is foundational to overall wellness.
ENVISION YOUR LIFE 3, 5 and 10 YEARS FROM NOW
Visualization techniques are common in sports and in buisness but personal development is no stranger to the practice either. Set aside about 10-20 minutes to visualize what your life will be like in 3, 5 and 10 years from now if the binge behavior does not change. How will it effect your relationships, your health and your career? How do you see the behavior impacting your future if it continues? Write this down in a journal if you find it helpful.
Then visualize your life in 3, 5 or 10 years if you were completely set free from this behavior and relationship with food. Where will you be and what will you be able to accomplish if your body, mind and spirit were in alignment?
Where would you experience freedom where you are currently feeling trapped? What difference will you be able to make in others lives if you weren’t still mistreating yourself with food.
I find that envisioning what it will be like both ways to be a very powerful exercise in helping us make changes in our lives.
I hope this blog post was helpful and informative for you. Please know that if you are dealing with this there are people out there who care and can help. Feel free to contact me if you need some support in this area of your life.