I have always loved cooking and experimenting with food. I remember in the midst of my food struggles with binge eating disorder I would look up the best ‘clean eating’ recipes I could find. Buy all the ingredients, cook, eat, enjoy the meal (for the most part) and then the urges would start. It would feel as if the Oreos and Nutella in the cupboard were literally screaming my name. All I wanted was to numb the urges by eating. I would try and resist but the voice in my head was too strong. Within 10 minutes maximum, I would be eating Nutella covered Oreos. A binge would generally last around 60 – 70 minutes and then the guilt would start. I would generally go online and search for things like ‘How to lose weight fast’ or ‘How to lose weight in a week’. I would stick to it for a week and go back to overeating.
How was it that I could never control my urges around food. I was a success in every area I chose to focus on. Whether it was school, music, photography. But my relationship with food was so screwed up and I could never win my battle against the bulge. My dream was always to be healthy beautiful and it seemed like the impossible dream.
After a long journey trying loads of different diets and weight loss plans I finally realised I was suffering from an eating disorder. Binge Eating Disorder (BED).
Throughout my journey, I went through extremes – binges, starvation, obsession with clean eating (orthorexia). Until finally I found a balance. This was the hardest thing I could ever imagine. I vowed that I will help women through this process. That’s when I started studying eating disorders.
I have completed courses on intuitive eating, eating disorders and nutrition as well as neuroplasticity with a special interest in Binge eating disorder, emotional eating and Bulimia. I am also studying Breathwork and doing the Hungry for the Happiness coaching course.
I want to highlight some of my techniques here for anyone going through the struggle.
1. Gratitude and meditating
I start my day off with meditations for 15 – 20 minutes every morning. I have created several food-related meditations that help calm the urges and quiet the binge voice in the mind. I also share these with clients who work with me. Then I list out all that I am grateful for that day. I also end my day with gratitude and it helps put me in a better mood.
2. Pause and breathe
Stop for a moment when you feel the first sign of an urge coming on, and then take a deep belly breath. Tell yourself that if you still want to binge after using this skill, you can-but first you are going to try this. I will be sharing a lot more about breathing once I have completed my breathwork facilitator training.
3. Allow space.
Remove yourself from the kitchen and go somewhere that makes you feel at peace and sit down and breathe. Set up a corner of the house for you if need be.
Ask yourself if you are feeling physically hungry. If so, choose to sit down and to eat something mindfully. How? Check-in with yourself analyse what it is you are truly craving. Is it something salty, sweet, crunchy. If you feel hungry get-up and eat slowly. Make sure you really appreciate the food.
You can also tell yourself some coping statements. Here are a few that I particularly like:
- If I still want to binge eat later I can, but for now, I’m going to sit and breathe for 10 minutes.
- Love did not create this.
- I can take this journey one moment at a time.
- I happy and grateful for my body and health
- I am more powerful than my eating disorder
- I welcome all my feelings knowing they guide me to my true self
- No amount of food is going to make the problem go away
- If I do what I have always done, I will always get what I always got.
- I deserve love and respect as I am
- I honour my mind, my body and my spirit every day.
- I can find peace in myself.
- I am enough, just as I am.
4. Separate your thoughts, and urges from yourself.
Whilst in the midst of your eating disorder the voice in your mind is always bully you into bingeing. This is because you are in what we call survival mode. The primitive part of your brain – which is responsible for our breathing and food-related thoughts is triggered. On a day where you get loads of urges Stop and think about what you would tell a friend in a similar situation.
Remind yourself that just because you have an urge does not mean that you need to act on it. With practice, you can learn how to sit with and ride out the urges that you experience. Urges typically will naturally diminish on their own. Remember you are not your urges.
Remember once the binge is over the issue that triggered the binge will still be there.
Our urges are found in our higher brain so they can be rewired. This is something that can be done through repetition and training.
5. Ask for help from a supportive person.
You are not alone. Speak to a friend or family member that you trust.
Please be kind and patient with yourself. Try and figure out why the binge is happening. Are you deprived of food because you are trying to restrict? Are you avoiding a particular food group? Do you deal with stress or unpleasant emotions with food? Recognise these things and discuss them.
Remind yourself that you can have any food you want – the world is not going to run out of it so give yourself permission to have whatever your body needs. Tap in listen to what your body needs and try to take it one day (even one moment) at a time. What if you tried something different this time?
6. Recovery Is Possible
If you do end up bingeing after taking these steps, it’s important to be compassionate with yourself. You are not alone in struggling with this and you are not simply “lacking willpower.” Willpower has nothing to do with this. You are struggling with something that no one would choose. It’s also important that you don’t do anything to try to “compensate” for the binge, as this will only keep the binge/restrict cycle going.
Additionally, bingeing is often a resilient response to emotional distress, past trauma, and feelings of low self-worth. You are trying to ‘help yourself,’ and it might even feel helpful in the short term, however, in the long-term bingeing is likely not serving you.
If you have outlasted the urge to binge completely, take a moment to recognize and acknowledge this.
Ultimately, you deserve a meaningful and joyful life. No matter what you may be telling yourself, finding freedom from bingeing is possible. I’ve worked with many people who were able to fully recover from their eating disorders. Full recovery is completely possible. Yes, for you too. Do get in touch if you feel you need more guidance.
All the photos used in this write up are Stock photos and not taken by me.