Four Steps to Overcome Binge Eating
Updated: Oct 16, 2018
Overcoming binge eating is a challenge because often times it's hard to know where to start. Is the answer in a new eating plan? In therapy? In the latest book? In a coach?
Today I want to share what I've learned through my personal experience struggling with food, my experience coaching women to find peace with food, and my ongoing research into binge eating. I truly believe that once people understand and implement these teachings and tools, they'll be on the road to recovery.
Here are the four steps to overcome binge eating.
1. In order to understand that binge eating is not a personal fault you need to understand your struggles from an intellectual perspective rather than an emotional one. This means going deep into how the brain works and understanding why we get caught in binge cycles, why it feels like we can't control ourselves, and why dieting to compensate for binge eating only sets us up to fail.
Understanding binge eating from this perspective is empowering- once we know the facts, we can understand why we binge eat, and when we understand why we binge eat, we realize that it's not our fault. That's where a crack of light begins to shine- some space opens up to start getting curious and compassionate about our struggles instead of judgemental. We recognize that we're not broken or damaged, we're perfectly normal- just a product of our natural healthy brain tendencies, and also perfectly heal-able.
2. Once you understand binge eating intellectually, you can start laying a solid foundation to end binge eating. This is done by answering to some of the underlying physical and brain-based reasons you may be bingeing. For many people this means working to calm the body's own survival instincts which may be driving you to seek food. This is done by making sure you're eating enough food throughout the day. This does two things: it tells the brain that you're not in a starvation scenario, and it also supports and fuels the higher brain which is responsible for rational thought, conscious decision making, and remembering your higher goals. If you can't access your higher brain because your lower more primitive brain thinks it needs more to eat, you'll have a hard time recovering from binge eating.
From there it's time to watch our own brain- to listen in on our thoughts, and develop a deeper understanding of our relationship to binge eating. Remember, now we now have an understanding of what's actually happening up there, so instead of feeling powerless, we begin to feel quite fascinated and curious. Soon we see that most binge eating is initiated by a thought in the brain. That thought could be "I need that", "I want that", "that would be good right now", or other similar thoughts that create desire and drive. Getting to know these thoughts and putting the puzzle pieces together from our intellectual understanding helps us see our struggles very clearly and rationally. With this awareness we can begin to welcome binge urges without reacting or responding to them and begin to actively weaken the pathways in the brain that have been perpetuating the struggle.
3. As you become more aware, curious and compassionate to the reasons you turn to food, and more skilled at allowing urges, then you can move toward consciously creating the thoughts and beliefs that serve you better and move you faster toward your ultimate goals and highest intentions. It's often the case that we simultaneously want something (want to binge) and don't want something (don't want to binge) at the same time, and this incongruencey between the two thoughts creates emotional chaos. It leaves us disempowered and confused. Understanding the way our thoughts and beliefs impact our whole life is invaluable and empowering. When we learn how to manage our brain around our urges to eat, our reactions, or belief in ourselves, then we can have a direct impact on healing our struggles with food.
4. Finally it's important to address our personal needs and understand how many of us have been using food as a way to feel protected and safe, as a way to get some variety in our life or change our emotions, or escape discomfort. As we tune more and more into what we truly need and practice asking ourselves that question in times of discomfort, we get closer and closer to supporting ourselves in sustainable and positive ways. Really understanding our needs and answering them in ways beyond food opens the door to a deeper understanding of self and a more authentic and harmonious personal relationship. We can truly be on our own side, have our back, and no longer escape ourselves or exit into food.
If you're feeling ready to be done with binge eating or overeating, then I encourage you to book a free discovery call. Here we can begin a conversation about what you're currently struggling with and what you need to create a peaceful relationship with food and self.