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How I Deal With Binges
How I manage my binge episodes as a recovered person
My eating patterns have been chaotic the past week. I realized I am drinking less water and I take a bite from something each time I walk past my kitchen. I lost any interest I had in eating healthy foods or nourishing myself. I found myself stuffing my mouth with slices of bread with butter and jam on top. I ate a spoonful of peanut butter, straight out of the jar. And the moment I stopped binge eating and I was no longer on a binge-high, an overwhelming anxiety rushed through my body:
What if this isn’t just a binge?
What if this is the moment where I fall into a pit again?
What if I gain weight?
When I realized this is how it has been for the last two weeks, I panicked.
But that is no good for me, because the realization of all this happening alone makes me want to binge more. These are all very familiar feelings for me, feelings that I do not want to re-experience. So how do I make sure that I don’t? How do I deal with the binge episodes?
1. I let the binges be.
I have probably read ten thousand articles about ‘How to stop binge eating’ and ‘What to do when you feel like binge eating’ over the years. I have tried all of the tips:
‘Go on a walk!’, I came back and binged.
‘Drink water, sometimes we confuse thirst with hunger’, nope I am not thirsty.
‘Take a deep breath’, I can't, I just wanna inhale food!
Having tried all of the tips, I realized that the more I try to fight it, the stronger the binge gets. I try to show my body that it can trust me, that it does not need to stock up on calories; because it will always have access to all kinds of food it needs, I personally will make sure of that. And if I do everything in my power to actively avoid a binge, it gives the exact opposite message. I work with my body, not against it.
2. I do not weigh myself.
The first urge I have after a binge episode is to weigh myself, in order to do damage control. I think, if I know where I stand with my weight, I can take control of the situation. However, if we are being realistic, where will knowing exactly how much I have gained will get me? Nowhere! Because then I will be weighing myself with the disordered mindset that my weight will determine my worth. And let’s be honest with ourselves, there are only three possible outcomes, when you weigh yourself with disordered mindset:
Outcome 1: I have gained weight.
I will feel upset, angry and disappointed in myself. Whether I wake up to a neutral or positive body image, I will feel worse about myself.
Outcome 2: I have maintained my weight.
At first, I may feel relieved but then I will still feel disappointed in myself because I could have lost some weight, but I didn’t. So I will criticize myself for not losing any weight.
Outcome 3: I have lost weight.
I will feel happy on a superficial level for two seconds, but it will still not be enough. I will tell myself that I may have lost the weight, but I will probably gain it back anyways, so why should I be happy about it?
As you can see, if I weigh myself at the time, there is almost no chance that I end up feeling happy. I find it extremely difficult to step outside of that mindset right after a binge, because my memories of being stuck in the binge-diet cycle become primed and have free-floating anxiety running in my veins. So no measurement tapes or scales for me!
3. Most importantly, I do not try to fix or undo my binge.
The day after, when I open my eyes, I automatically think about my binge episode from the other day. I usually wake up feeling bloated which does not help. But I found that if I ruminate on it even just a little bit, I will decide to go on a long run - or worse - a diet! While it may seem like a positive thing to do, I realized all of my problems are actually a result of me trying to fix or undo what I have eaten. The idea that you should eat less or workout more after a binge only strengthens the belief that you should be earning your food or compensating for it. And this idea will cause me another binge, turning it into a daily thing. So my game plan is not doing anything about it. The best is to leave the binge behind.