BINGE EATING DISORDER: HOW JOURNALING HELPED ME BREAK THE CYCLE
DIET BY DAY, BINGE BY NIGHT:
As I’ve shared on my blog before, I used to have binge eating disorder for over five years. my private sruggle. It controlled my life every waking moment of the day. I couldn’t escape the obsessive food thoughts, body image the low-self esteem and lack of confidence that this disease bought with it.
lot of focus has been placed on anorexia, and bulimia, but it seems that compulsive overeating gets ignored in the shuffle. I’ve put together some strategies here that may be a helpful way of curbing your overeating desires. Read on for more.
I suffered in pain, silently, alone and in in despair, for more then three years before I admitted that I had an issue and sought help.
The road to recovery was a long one, which included giving up the diet mentality, becoming aware of cues and triggers that would set me off n a binge, and learning to control my emotions. While binge eating isn’t a part of my life anymore, it took me a really, really long time to recover.
During this time, one of the hardest things for me was bouncing back after each binge episode. After hopping in my car and driving to the nearest service station to stock up on a whole array of junk food and eating until I simply couldn’t eat anymore, I was inevitably left feeling miserable, guilty and desperate.
These feelings just continued to set me up for another binge.
It took me a long time to realise that how you bounce back after a binge is critical to your recovery.
“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”
So here is the first step…. How to bounce back after a binge.
Step 1. Break the Cycle
You must break the binge eating cycle, which goes like this …
1. You want to lose weight
2. You restrict what you eat
3. You get cravings/lose motivation/have a bad day
4. You binge eat
5. You feel fat and shameful
So you REPEAT the cycle …
1. You want to lose weight
2.You restrict what you eat
3. You get cravings/lose motivation/have a bad day
4. You binge eat
5. You feel fat and shameful
And you REPEAT the cycle again and again and again and again and again and again.
Ahhh, somebody please make it STOP!
The desire to keep dieting is overwhelming when you are desperately ashamed of your body. You can read my 10 things to do immediately after a binge here, which includes breaking the restrictive diet cycle, but I want to impress on you in this post, the imprtance of journaling as one of the most important factors of breaking the binge eating cycle.
Get Over The Guilt
So you binged. And now you’re feeling pretty crappy, right? I get it. I used to feel incredibly guilty after bingeing for having ‘ruined my diet’. I felt like a failure. I would spend all day counting calories and overexercising in the attempt to make some dent in the calories I had cnsumed. And then I would end up demolishing the kitchen, again. I would beat myself up for having fallen off the bandwagon. I had promised myself that this time would be different but it never was.
There is nothing like a binge to make you feel shame. The problem is that guilt and shame will only trigger you to continue along the binge eating cycle. If you want to break the cycle, then you need to be more accepting of yourself. Feeling guilty is a sure fire way to start the cycle again.
Try and distract yourself. Get busy and go see a friend. Write in a journal or do something creative like writing or painting. Don’t indulge in judging your body in front of the mirror. Don’t tell yourself you are fat and a failure. Just move on.
Dwelling on your binge will only make you more upset, which could lead to emotional bouts of overeating down the road. “Moving past the guilt is the first step toward getting back on track,” explains Minchen. “It’s important to realize too, that if it was just one overindulgent meal, it won’t do too much damage. Generally, this would only set someone back a day or two.” So keep your head up; you’ve still got this.
0:30 – The importance of habits.
1:00 – Negative habits and positive habits.
What most binge eaters don’t realise, is that binge-eating is not about FOOD.
It’s about engaging a maladaptive behavior in response to stress and/or anxiety. The eating serves the purpose of emotional relief, release, or numbness. But in so doing, it adds a new source of stress and anxiety. The ’cause’ is unresolved emotional processing -> the result is binge eating.
And you think your problem is one of overanalyzing and overthinking the bingeing. But in actuality it is a state of confusion. You are so lost in your emotional processing that you are now “thinking your feelings” and “feeling your thoughts” – which merely adds to the overwhelming confusion and anxiety.
In this scenario any negative emotional energy -> frustration, anger, hostility, guilt, and shame – are going to lead you right where you DON”T EVER want to go. And if you keep thinking this is about “resisting” the urge to binge, then you will certainly keep bingeing to off-set the anxiety you are creating. It’s a vicious circle. But it’s not about FOOD – it’s ALL ABOUT AWARENESS.
As the custodian for your body, you’re responsible for its care—just like you’d be responsible for a child that you’re babysitting. Imagine finding this kid knee-deep in candy bar wrappers, halfway into an all-out candy binge. Caught red-handed, this kid looks up at you, terrified, ashamed, awaiting punishment. What do you do? Do you yell insults at the child? March him or her over to the treadmill to run off every last calorie? Of course not. You’re not Mommie Dearest. With that in mind, let any name calling and punishment stop. You will treat yourself with the same compassion you would treat this child.
Why is this helpful? In his book The Marshmallow Test, psychologist and Columbia professor Walter Mischel describes how emotional situations like this can stay in a heated place, which could lead to more self-destructive or self-punishing behavior. To counter that, it helps to cool your distress by “self distancing” and entering into “cognitive reappraisal.” In other words, viewing yourself from a distance or as another (e.g. a child) helps engage a cool, rational reaction where you can regroup and rebound.
So what should you do to regroup? We’re glad you asked…
1:52 – Using journaling and emotional strength and conditioning to create cognitive disruption and self-discovery.
habits that are negative, unhealthy for us. it’s a habit, a neural event in your mind. it takes a habit to break a habit. as soon as you can after a binge, start jurnaling what you’re feeling. Journalling is what we call emotional strength and conditining work. What are you really upset about, what are you feeliing.
put aside the guilt and judge,ent of the binge, just write. even if you don’t know wat to write or how you’re feeling, write that down. even if you can’t interrupt the binge episode, you can still try to do so afterwords, this is very important for that it takes a habit to break a habit kind of momentum. so even if you don’t get to write after a binge, you feel too exhausted or too defeated, write as soon as you can. mostly about thoughts and feeling you have. this gets you feelings outside of you rather than pressing them inside of you down the road, which is what binge eating is. but journal ling is not the magic answer. Consistency over time will get you the results. one of the goals with journaling is cognitive restructuring, cgnitive disruption. journalling is the habit you’ll hav to get into to break the binge eating habit.
these things are designed to change any sobataging mindsets toards food, eating, body weight, self esteem, body imabe etc. You get out of that negative emotional driving behavour which leads to impulse control issues, gets your emotions out on paper and allows your rational mind to empower it to work toward solutions rather than keep using the emotional brain to obsess on theproble and thats what begins the foundation of breaking the ld habit (engage the rational mind to find the solution) … instead of the emotional brain to focus on the problem).
Most exercisies are about self discovery and the why’s you are doing what you’re doing and what’s really going on.
Spo what we re talkiing about here isn;t a food or eating issue, and you need to stp thinking about it that way. you have to realise this is an emotional fitness issue.
awarenss comes first, and then the desired channge and behvours comes down the road.
so jouralling and emotionsl strenghh and conditioning exercise for emtional fitness is what it takes to reak the habit of binge eating. you’re not likely to stop a binge mid track but that’s ok.
remember weight loss isn’t a liner process, and neither is dealing with food issues either. It’s a one step forward and 2 steps back process. and that is a good thing you can’t continue to punish and abuse yourself for bingeing. use each episode as a learning experience and that’s where journalling comes in.
part of this is getting past the self destructive and emotional judgements of the binge eating itself, so you can learn the rational lsessons that emotional lock down that happens when you binge. and the only way you can
remember you binge eat or emotional eat or have food issues because it has a payoff for you. we call it a secondary gain. so you have to unravel that payoff and learn how to get that payoff without negative beahviours likfe food to do so.
After years of cognitive behaviour exercises, i leanred emptional wellness and fitness and learning to cope without food. So you don’t focus more on the thing youre trying to get rid of, you focus on things that make yu feel more fulfilled, happy.
You got to get out of your own way and stop judging yourself.
takes a habit to break a habit.
6:25 – The underlying payoff or “secondary gain” of the binge episode. (I.e. What’s really going on?)
Three Journaling Prompts you can use now to start dealing directly with bingeing.
one exercise you can do is 3 journalling exerciese
Food is my enemy because
Food is my friend because
Food is just food because
It allows you to stand back and look at it bjectively so you can start solving it.
You don’t solve it by oesessing.
6:39 – An example client who used journaling to successfully deal with her EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) – my personal journal entry
ES and more YES. Binge eating–my private struggle for years. All coming from a “lack of control” in other areas in my life where I felt deprived of my own rights and my own joy. This attracts people like me to activities ( dieting/competing) where we CAN control something and then we end up “eating our feelings” because the hormonal response from all that restriction sets you up to respond with “reckless abandonment” when those suppressed emotions come to the surface again and again. Understanding and acknowledging emotions is definitely the cure!
it is partially about the food. I.e. in the sense that today’s food like products (notice what we are presented to eat is not food) are engineered to trigger chemical reactions within our bodies and brain, to not be able to just have one, even worse to have increasingly more….. It is a double edged sword
Often times people will write me and say “I know I need to keep doing my best” This is not entirely true; especially if you are someone who continues to sabotage yourself – instead you just need to “keep showing up” whether you feel like it or not – forget about telling yourself to “do your best” – Tell yourself instead “I’m showing up regardless” eventually “your best” will be an outgrowth of consistently showing up for the task at hand
Stop telling me about how you are waiting around for the right time. There is no right time – unless you say that time is right now! And there is nowhere else I ever want to be than “right now!”
There are going to be people out there who will always claim to be a victim to outside forces conspiring against them. What a cop out. Character isn’t about the things that happen to you – it’s about how you respond to those things. Let the “yeah buts” begin.
A person that cannot “self-correct” their thinking or their path, is a person who will not flourish in this world
Things may not go the you want them to, the way you imagined they would – and not turn out in your favor. Often in life you can’t control the outcomes. But you can control your attitudes and your efforts, before, during, and after something you pursue. Pour yourself into your efforts and your attitude – that is the real choice you have.
Some people prefer the safety of the sidelines. So be it. But to venture yourself into unknown and unfamiliar territory – to make it known and familiar by totally investing yourself in it — this is life’s greatest of personal satisfactions – something that sideline-sitters will never be able to fathom, appreciate or respect. Yep, it take consistency, and dedication, and preparation, and practice and the risk of failure. these are the prices you pay for self-respect, self-esteem, and personal accomplishment – pay them! You’ll be glad you did.
When Miranda emailed me, she said, “The basis of the summit is to not only teach women proper eating habits and exercise, but to go beyond this on a deeper level and understand that the whole self is involved in weight loss and maintaining your new healthy body, by working on mindset, self love, and overcoming past negative experiences that may be causing them to hold onto weight or stress.”
Beyond Metabolism. How Your Brain, Biology, and the Environment Create and Perpetuate Weight Issues …and What You Can Do About It
t can be easy, post-gluttony, to beat yourself up. Things like “no self-control,“ “lazy,” and “gross” can get thrown around. Maybe yourun five miles and end up making yourself sick. Or swear off eating for an entire day. It’s super easy to treat your body to all types of abuse post-gorgefest, but here’s where taking a step outside yourself is critical.
4:05 – The importance of using the rational mind to focus on the solution instead of the emotional mind to focus on the problem.
eastern methods are about working the slutions rather than obsesing the probelsm. battlw and struggle until you overcome it … they teach you hw to let go of things rather than the resistance method to battle which is exhasting. and this is a major shift you need to make.
learning to nurture your body from the inside out, which is a huge shift. you cant hate your way to psitive and worthy self accomplishment.
get back t treating your body with a self nutting mindset and respcet.
its about learning that your body is your life long partner not your life long project. And whnen you treat your body with self nurting, your other cosmetic goals like diet fall int place. you’re no longer in battle mode.
when you’re in self nurturing mode, you let go of the struggle and act normally. Nurturing your body doesn’t mean you have to liek your body 50kg over weright, or that you should stay there, it means you need to top hating on your body and ourself to froce your body towards a healthier place. it’s going to take a healthy mindset to garner a result.
so self nurturing is the shift yu have to make.
the vanity industries like the fitness, fashion, diet, fitness, cosmetics industries, all these things thrive and work together to get you tp play the compare, contrast and compete game against other people to see how you measure up or don’t measure up. When you remove yourself from the mindset of compare game, then these industries can no longer control you and you start to direct your wn thoughts about your wn personal wellness. The c, c, c game doesn’t ever help you, it hurst you. the vanicty industries are not really on your side, they will tell you they will help you, that you lok good about your self as you are, but they in fact make you feel like you’re never good enough as you are which kee you buying their products.
impulse event – feeling as though you must.
Give a personal journal entry of mine – and explain the situation.
Admit that overdoing it on food is the human condition. We all have our moments. How could we not, in a world where cronuts exist? As a popular inspirational quote says, “You are not defined by your mistakes, but your reaction.” Or as a wise kitten once said, “Hang in there!” Getting back on that healthy-eating horse is as easy as practicing a little self-care.
I really hope this post helped! If so, please come and join the conversation on social media. I love hearing your thoughts and feedback. You can find The Megan Jayne community of Facebook and Instagram and Twitter.
I know what it’s like to struggle with food, binge eating, low self-esteem and an unhealthy body image. If you’re tired of the obsessive food thoughts and always being in diet mode, then it’s time to make a change. Let me help you change.
Learn to listen to your body, give up diets by checking out my BodyLove eCourse, which is filled with useful info about creating a body you actually love.
One question I often get is “how to stop a binge.” Truthfully, stopping a binge right in the middle of it is very difficult. However, there are exercises and strategies you can use to create cognitive disruption and stop the binge-eating habit over time.
Binge eating is caused by neural events. It is a habit, and it takes a habit to break a habit.
You will also learn:
0:15 – Why it is so difficult to stop a binge in the middle of it.
5:30 – The process of stopping binging, and what it’s really like.
BINGE-EATING, & RECOVERING FROM AN EPISODE!
Being a binge-eater, is like being an alcoholic, except it involves food instead of alcohol. It is an addiction which affects people of all levels of fitness.
A lot of focus has been placed on anorexia-nervosa, and bulimia-nervosa, but it seems that compulsive overeating gets ignored, and/or lost in the shuffle. A common misconception is that binge eating occurs only with obese individuals.
I can tell you first hand however, that I know more binge-eaters that are actually in shape, than out of shape. The major reason for my writing this article is because I myself have personally suffered from the disorder, and have found it extremely detrimental to my fitness and overall well-being.
While the strategies presented in this article are in no way a cure to the disease (the actual cravings begin in one’s own MIND), they may be a helpful step toward curbing one’s desires, and substituting other actions in place of excessive eating.
EATING DISORDER ARTICLES:
OUT OF WHACK HORMONES:
Usually when one engages in an episodic binge, he or she has starved him or herself throughout the course of the entire day. When night time comes, the person’s hormones are out of whack, which will often lead to a sugar-craving (or salt/fat craving).
Since the binge-eating follows a regular pattern of “eat a bunch,” and then “starve yourself the following day due to guilt”, the cycle will continue, and will eventually prove to be very detrimental to one’s well-being, digestive system, and overall level of fitness.
Personally, when I speak of “recovering from a binge,” I am explaining how to make it so that if a binge does occur, you can reduce the guilt you feel, by acting in a proper manner the following day to reduce the harsh effects on your body.
When excessive eating of carbohydrates occurs, the carbohydrates are converted to a form called glycogen, and stored in the muscles, and liver.
If the liver and muscles are filled to their maximum capacity with glycogen, then any excess carbohydrates which are consumed, will be stored as fat. In order to keep your weight in check, you should completely avoid binge-eating altogether. But, if it does occur, here is a good way to recover:
If you overeat (particularly with carbohydrates), eliminate carbohydrates from your breakfast the following morning. You have to burn off some of that stored glycogen before you start to overflow your body with excess carbohydrates. You CAN eat the next morning, just make sure you eat the RIGHT food!
If your stomach is filled with a surplus of food from the day before, try to exercise in the morning before you eat anything, and go to the bathroom to unload some of the food in your digestive system before you start overloading your body with excess calories to be stored as fat.
If you eat anything at all, have some salad, fiber, or a small amount of protein (chicken breast, turkey breast, egg whites, fish, etc) instead ofcarbohydrates. Burn up some of that stored glycogen before you ingest unnecessary carbs.
NIGHT EATING SYNDROME
While binge-eating may occur at any time, I have found the majority of cases to take place late at night, after dinner, often with intermittent periods of waking up and eating throughout the night. Recently, there has been a name associated with this particular case of binge-eating.
Scientists have coined the term “Night Eating Syndrome,” and have found that individuals suffering from the disease are actually affected on a hormonal level, rather than just on the surface.
In a study done by the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and the University Hospital in Tromso, Norway, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a combination of two related studies based upon behavioral and neuro-endorcine data was performed.
The behavioral study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, attempts to define behavioral characteristics of the disorder by recording the eating times during the course of an episode, and the mood level throughout the waking hours as well as the frequency of night-time awakenings.
CRAVING FORUM TREADS:
The neuro-endocrine study conducted at the University Hospital in Tromso, Norway, attempts to characterize the syndrome in terms of circadian profiles (occurring approximately every 24 hours) of plasma melatonin, leptin & cortisol-the hormones linked to sleep & appetite that are found in lower levels in people with night-eating syndrome.
Through their study, they found the following facts to be true for most individuals:
- The person has little or no appetite for breakfast. He or she delays the first meal for several hours after waking up. The individual is not hungry or is upset about how much was eaten the night before.
- The individual eats more food after dinner than during that meal.
- The person eats more than half of daily food intake after dinner but before breakfast, and may leave the bed to snack at night.
- This pattern has persisted for at least two months.
- The person feels tense, anxious, upset, or guilty while eating.
- Night-Eating Syndrome is thought to be stress related and is often accompanied by depression. Especially at night the person may be moody, tense, anxious, nervous, agitated, etc.
- The person has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Wakes frequently and then often eats.
- Foods ingested are often carbohydrates: sugary and starch.
- The behavior is not like binge eating which is done in relatively short episodes. Night-Eating Syndrome involves continual eating throughout evening hours.
- This eating produces guilt and shame, not enjoyment.
STEPS TO COMPLETE RECOVERY
As with any addiction, the first step toward recovery is to acknowledge the existence of a problem. Once one realizes that, he or she can outline the specific times the disorder affects him or her, and take the appropriate steps toward recovery.
The final goal is to stop binge-eating altogether, and be able to choose small amounts of food in moderation. But in order to do this, one has to understand and pinpoint the EXACT point and time that the thought of binge-eating pops into his or her head, and develop a strategy to overcome it.
Personally, I have found that since I will only binge eat late at night, it is much better for me to force myself to go to sleep at a certain time, so that I do not overeat. If I am up past 11 or so during the week, the thought of eating bad food will enter my head. I will either force myself to go to sleep, or do what I call a “substitution” exercise.
THE SUBSTITUTION EXERCISE:
When a bad thought enters one’s head, he or she may “substitute” another thought in its place. For example, if I am thinking about binge-eating with a certain food, I might force myself to go downstairs and do a half hour of cardio instead.
Or I might do some pushups or crunches. Or it might be something as simple as keeping a notebook nearby around 10 or 11pm when I normally get my cravings. Once the craving hits me, I will pick up a pen and start writing in my book “I am not going to give in to overeating.” I will write it over and over again until I have conquered the thought, and can get it out of my head.
EATING A NORMAL AMOUNT OF FOOD, & NOT FEELING GUILTY ABOUT IT.
Another step I have found to be completely helpful, is to take that notebook and write “I will eat a normal sized amount of food, and feel fine.” I will then get a small portion of healthy food if I am hungry, and eat it.
Something like tuna and a salad, an egg white omelet with peppers and onions, or plain air popped popcorn will satiate me, and I will give my brain time to realize it is satisfied, before I overeat. The trick is to realize that your brain is giving off thoughts that might lead to a binge, and then exercise complete and total control over your own mind.
LATE NIGHT FOODS:
GET FOODS THAT YOU CAN EAT LATE AT NIGHT WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY, BUT DO NOT BINGE ON THEM!
Foods such as sugar free jello and sugar free popsicles will have less of an effect on blood sugar levels than their higher carbohydrate counterparts. The main concern here is to NOT binge on these foods! The goal is to STOP binge-eating, not to find a food that you can stuff your face with and not feel guilty about!
LATE NIGHT SNACKING FORUM THREADS:
Just because a certain food doesn’t hurt your physique, should you binge on it and overeat to the point where you can’t move. That is not a cure for the disorder, it is masking the problem, and often times will make it worse when you get sick of these foods and then switch back over to something unhealthy.
Overall, the problem of binge-eating is one which affects many people of all ages, and levels of fitness. Bodybuilders, fitness models, everyday businesspeople all suffer from certain types of dietary issues. The trick is in how we direct the thoughts in our own minds to action. As always, I welcome all e-mails and questions, and can be reached at email@example.com.
Don’t fret. Sometimes reframing the situation and having an action plan is all you need to rebound ASAP.
Let’s handle the physical symptoms for bloating and food coma first.
Don’t: Let the weight of your food baby take you down for the count (or straight to the couch). Lying down can give you heartburn and other gastro issues. It can even aggravate respiratory issues for people with asthma.
Do: Get moving. Light exercise is the best thing you can do to help your body bounce back. Operative word: light. Jogging around the block might not be smart, thanks to the high barf factor, but taking a walk can do a world of good. Not only does it speed up digestion, it’ll also even out your blood sugar and clear glucose out of your bloodstream. Another idea is light yoga. Certain twisting poses have been known to assist and alleviate digestive woes.
Don’t: Drink alcohol or coffee. Knocking back a boozy “digestif” drink after a calorie rager is a common practice for many, but they don’t actually assist with digestion. In fact, alcohol can pump the breaks on your body’s digestive process. Coffee may swing you back up from a food slump with a jolt of caffeine, but it also doesn’t do any good for digestion.
Do: Drink water, seltzer, or teas. It might seem counterintuitive to drink water when your belly is full to bursting, but H2O helps move along digestion. It can also battle sodium and carb bloat, and it’s a preemptive strike against any post-gluttony constipation. You can also try seltzer, which is proven to relieve indigestion. Herbal teas with ginger, peppermint, and fennel have been shown to ease thatI’m-so-stuffed feeling. In short, keep these liquids coming.
Looking Ahead: Your Back-in-the-Game Action Plan
OK, you’ve got your head on straight and you’ve forgiven this entirely human moment of overdoing it. And after hitting the two W’s (water and walking) and letting a few hours lapse, youroverstretched gut feels like it’s returned to its normal size. Now what can you do to move forward from this food bender beyond the short-term? Start with this rebound checklist:
1. Plan your next healthy meal
Like we said before, it’s easy to rebound from a gluttonous moment and overreact by shunning food. But don’t let the pendulum swing to the other extreme. Ground yourself with a healthy meal that fits right in with your life pre-bender. Keep in mind, skipping meals can trigger another trip to Taco Town. Even if you’re not hungry, simply planning your next meal is a powerful act of self-care that can remind you that food is not public enemy No. 1.
2. Plan your next workout
Yes, you don’t want to go for a jog right after you did a faceplant into your mom’s pumpkin pie, but scheduling your next workout is also a strong reminder that after this gluttonous interlude, you’re getting back to your normal fitness routine. It’s also a great affirmation of how you see yourself: You are not defined by this food bender. For example, you could say, “I am not only the person who ate all the pumpkin pie. I am also a runner. A runner that just ate lots of pie. But a runner nonetheless.“
3. Get some perspective
The world is bigger than a bag of chips (or several bags). And this moment of indulgence is but a blip on the radar of life. Tune in to larger issues: Read a newspaper, a book, or even your old journals. There are bigger things to occupy your mind than this moment.
4. Call a friend or hug it out
Sometimes food benders come from a place of loneliness or discomfort. If you’ve realized your spree was triggered by these feelings, don’t ignore them just because “the damage is done.” Reach out to friends, hug it out, and get the companionship you need. Feed this emotional hunger. Likewise if you look back on a holiday or family celebration and realize you were stress-eating through it, give yourself the tools you need to de-stress and unpack some of that. And of course if you spot a reoccurring pattern with overeating, getting professional help from a therapist or counselor can be incredibly helpful.
In Shape Than Out Of Shape.
Listen up: It’s not a crime to indulge. You’re only human, after all. So if you’re feeling fat, bloated, and mad at yourself for overdoing it, just stop. Dwelling on your binge will only make you more upset, which could lead to emotional bouts of overeating down the road. “Moving past the guilt is the first step toward getting back on track,” explains Minchen. “It’s important to realize too, that if it was just one overindulgent meal, it won’t do too much damage. Generally, this would only set someone back a day or two.” So keep your head up; you’ve still got this.
Yeah, we get it. When you’re super full the last thing you want to do is guzzle down water. But it’s for your own good. “Staying hydrated can aid in binge recovery by aiding digestion and fighting gas-induced bloat,” says Minchen. “Also, staying hydrated supports a healthy metabolism and satiety, making recovery more manageable for the body.” Drink a large glass before bed and a few large glasses the next morning. It’s also advisable to keep a water bottle by your side over the next two days. Doing so will help flush out any excess salt that’s making you bloated and paunchy.
Getting seven to nine hours of sleep is one of the best things you can do to get back on track after a binge. Why? It may make it easier to turn down fat and carb-laden trigger foods the next day. In a University of Colorado study, participants who were only permitted to sleep a mere five hours ate more the next day than those who got nine hours of shut-eye. Researchers observed that the well-rested crew had more “food restraint” while those who were sleep-deprived not only took in more calories, but more calories from carbs and fat.
PROTEIN AT BREAKFAST
It’s the weirdest thing: After eating a huge meal, we oftentimes swear we will never eat again only to wake up the next morning feeling more ravenous than ever before. Why does this happen? “After eating a big dinner, insulin spikes. This is often followed by a blood sugar drop, which increases feelings of hunger the next morning,” explains Minchen. Instead of heading to the cupboard and stuffing your face with sugary cereal, Minchen suggests fixing a balanced breakfast with a mix of protein, carbs and fat. This will help tame your crazy hunger and aid in the continued digestion of last night’s heavy meal. Minchen’s breakfast of choice? Two whole eggs (or just the whites) topped with 1/4th of an avocado and a cup of fruit.
I generally caution my patients to be careful about viewing exercise as a way to counteract overeating, notes Minchen. “This approach can fuel guilt and shame about eating habits. Plus, it’s not realistic or effective to chase every calorie with exercise. Even so, breaking a sweat the day after a binge can help deliver oxygen to the digestive tract which keeps food moving through smoothly and can help people feel less blah.” Minchen recommends 30 minutes of light cardio, such as walking, jogging or an at home cardio DVD. If you’re pressed for time, turn your trip to the mall to do holiday gift returns into a mini-workout. Park as far away from the mall as possible and power-walk to and from the entrance.
If you’ve got a case of post-binge digestive distress, steer clear of any foods that may disrupt your tummy further. Big culprits include gluten, dairy products, coffee, refined sugar, carbonated beverages and acidic foods like fruit juice, pasta, alcohol, fatty meats and chocolate. Fruits, vegetables, green teas, almonds, lentils and avocados on the other hand are all more alkaline and won’t upset those prone to acid reflux. “Focus first on eliminating known problem foods and then decide if there are any others that you may need to avoid for a day or two to restore balance,” says Minchen.
There is absolutely no need to put yourself through a full-blown cleanse post-binge, but eating “clean” whole foods the day after overeating will make you feel refreshed and put you back in the right frame of mind to reach your goals. Minchen suggests whipping up meals comprised of a good balance of protein, fiber-filled carbs and fat. Here are some examples that fit the bill:
- A grilled salmon fillet with one cup quinoa and three cups leafy greens dressed in an olive oil and lemon dressing.
- A baked chicken breast with half a sweet potato topped with one tablespoon of butter and two cups steamed broccoli.
- Four cups of leafy greens and other veggies topped with grilled steak, 1/4th of an avocado, 1/4th cup dried cranberries and balsamic vinegar
If you’re hungry between meals, eat something! Don’t deprive yourself of food just because you overdid it yesterday. “Skipping usual meals or snacks the day after a binge will only increases the desire to overeat again,” says Minchen. She recommends reaching for snacks rich in protein to promote satiety, like plain Greek yogurt with berries, organic turkey slices with avocado, a Quest Bar, or two eggs with a piece of fruit.
The scale is not your friend the day following a big binge. It may display a number higher than what you’re use to as a result of the extra food sitting in your stomach and the water retention brought on by eating those salty pretzels. “Many of my patients find it defeating and discouraging to step on the scale after they’ve binged because it makes them feel like they lost all their progress, which isn’t typically the case. Wait two days before weighing yourself to see what the lasting damage is,” advises Minchen.
3. Don’t Skip Breakfast
This is one of the WORST things you can do! I know you have woken up and probably aren’t thinking of demolishing a stack of pancakes, but even that healthy smoothie is making you feel queasy. The trick is to keep it light. Make a protein & veggie packed breakfast like an omelette or just eat some yoghurt with fresh berries. The reason eating breakfast is so important is because it kick starts your metabolism. It can also get you into the right mindset that will allow you to continue your healthy eating schedule.
If you have binge eating disorder, you know you can’t really take back an over-indulgence. But there are ways to react to a binge that can actually help you prevent the next one, experts say.
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1. Analyze and learn.
Learn from your binge, says Doug Bunnell, PhD, former president of the National Eating Disorders Association. “Don’t feel ashamed” or think of it as a disaster. “Be honest with yourself in trying to go through and figure out, ‘How did that happen?’”
“That could mean writing in a diary or a journal: ‘Where was I, what was I thinking or feeling, what happened just before, what happened during, what happened after the binge?’” Then, talk about it with someone you trust, Bunnell says.
A therapist, guided self-help resource (available on the web), or peer support group can help you spot patterns, he says. To find an eating disorder specialist, go to the National Eating Disorders Association web site.
Bunnell describes one client who realized certain interactions with his wife left him feeling dismissed or insignificant, which often led him to binge. With the help of therapy, Bunnell says, “He’s gotten really good at creating more space between the thoughts and feelings and the actual behavior.”
2. Go easy on yourself.
Nix the guilt and shame. Our failures help us learn.
“You have to be kind to yourself and give yourself a chance to learn from experience without condemning yourself too much,” says Russell Marx, MD. He is chief science officer at the National Eating Disorders Association.
3. ‘Do the next right thing.’
This means practicing self-care and compassion. “It means eating the next meal and not restricting [food] to ‘make up’ for the binge,” says Jenni Schaefer, co-author of Almost Anorexic: Is My (or My Loved One’s) Relationship with Food a Problem?
Leslie Anderson, PhD, is training director at the Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research at University of California, San Diego. She stresses the importance of going back to a regular eating pattern.
“Sometimes people think, ‘Well I binged, so now I need to starve myself for the next couple meals to make up for it.’ But you’re just setting yourself up for another binge.” If you’re hungry, you’re more likely to lose control around food, says Anderson.
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4. Recommit to not bingeing.
“It helps to make a commitment to yourself, or a therapist, or a friend or family member, that you will stop the behavior,” Anderson says. “You could use a statement like ‘bingeing is not an option’ that you tell yourself every day.”
She also suggests you make a list of the pros and cons of bingeing. Challenge the pros in writing. For example, “Pro: It makes me feel better. Challenge: It makes me feel better in the moment, but it makes me feel worse in the long term.” Put the list on the fridge and look at it often.
5. Get help if you need it.
People with binge eating disorder often have depression and other mental health issues. It’s important to get treatment for those issues if you’re going to get a handle on the binge eating, Marx says. He suggests starting with a psychologist.
Physically: Your Immediate Action Plan
Step 3. Accept that you will binge again
Let me be very honest with you.
During your recovery, you will binge plenty more times. Please do not expect that bingeing will one day just stop because you will be disappointed and feel like a failure when you’re don’t stop immediately .
Instead, what you’ll notice over time and with work is that binges will simply become less frequent. Maybe you eat a little less each time or they aren’t as long.
You must accept that you will binge again. And that is ok. What’s more, it is essential to binge. If you don’t binge, you can’t learn about how to stop bingeing! Consider each binge an opportunity to learn more about yourself, your emotions, your environment…
Try this. After a binge say to yourself. “I binged and that is ok. It was just a binge. I am going to resist the urge to diet and restrict. I will keep listening to my body instead”.
Step 4. Stop Relying On Willpower
I’ve written about how to stop relying on willpower and again here. Some other non-dieting dietitians might disagree with me, but I find this really worked for me. Stop relying on your willpower and remove the ‘sometimes’ treat and trigger food from your house. By removing them from the house, it doesn’t mean that these foods are off limits to you. You can always go out and buy them, but removing them from your immediate environment means binging is a little less likely.
This isn’t always possible though. Sometimes we binge on everyday food like bread and cereal and leftovers and yoghurt. Or you live with other people* so you can’t explain why you can’t have this food around. If this isn’t possible, that is fine.
*chances are they have noticed that a lot of food has gone missing. It may not be a secret and worthwhile talking about.
Step 5. Seek Specialised Help
You may not be ready yet to admit to someone else that you have a binge eating problem. It took me 10 years to realise it and I was already in counselling the first time I ever blurted out the word binge!! And trust me, I blurted it out because it felt like the word didn’t belong to me.
I was so embarrassed. “What if people knew? What would they think”? I thought. And you know what I’ve learned? No one else actually gives a shit. Everyone is pretty caught up in their own lives to care. And if they have a problem – it’s their problem. You’re the one being courageous and they are the ones being judgemental and living small lives.
Anyways, in hindsight, getting professional help was one of the best thing I did for my recovery. It was the start of my recovery from emotional and binge eating. Sometimes you don’t feel ‘ready’ to get professional help but I’m not sure you’ll ever truly feel ready? So I encourage you to ‘BE BRAVE’ and take the leap, just like I did.
Step 6. Find the Right Professional
There are plenty of people who are specialised to help you.
1. Have a chat
I’d suggest getting in touch with a psychologist, psychiatrist or other mental health professional. The best person for the job is someone you can relate to and connect with. Remember, it’s just a chat with someone. It’s not scary and if you don’t like them, you don’t have to go back.
2. Pick a non-diet dietitian
I highly recommend seeing a dietitian who specialises in the non-dieting approach. I’m not taking on new clients but there are heaps of awesome experts out there who are. Get googling, speak to your GP and/or start asking around for the right help.
3. Look for a specialist
Find someone who specialises in eating disorders/binge eating and body image. Don’t just go to someone who does a bit of everything… Also, I personally wouldn’t trust someone who says they deal with binge eating but do not practice the non-dieting approach. They are probably people who think you just need ‘a bit more willpower’ to get over it. Ignore them and find someone who knows what the hell they are talking about.