On my last post So, you’ve binged? I was talking about my go to activities in the aftermath of a binge but what steps can you take to help lessen the urge to binge in the first place? Last Sunday and Monday were dark days for me but this week, I’ve been whole heartedly committing to doing the things that I know are key to lessening my binge urges. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen me briefly talk about the actions I was taking but I wanted to take the time to delve in a little deeper. The majority of the messages I recieve are about this so I really hope this guide is helpful.
Responding to my hunger every time. I’d gotten into a habit of waiting until I was super hungry before I would allow myself to eat and only eat at “acceptable” meal times. This was causing me to go into a binge state of mind whenever I finally got around to eating because I’m either over hungry or over thinking. This week I have been snacking a lot. I’ve kinda figured out that this is key to me feeling fuelled and prevents the state of panic of when I’m next going to be able to eat and what I’ll be eating. Eating at non-designated meal times can be scary but you do not need to listen to the time of day, you only need to listen to your body. Waiting until an “acceptable time” to eat is a form of restriction and this will lead to binges later on.
Eating the food I truly want to. And also drinking the drinks I truly want to. This is part of my eating disorder which I still struggle regularly with.. rules. Things like if I’d eaten toast for breakfast, I wouldn’t eat bread again that day or only being allowed to drink diet fizzy drinks. All of these things had become deep rooted in my thinking and this week I’ve been battling to honour myself no matter what I’ve already eaten or am going to be eating. One of my “normal eater friends” told me once that all they’d eaten that day is hot cross buns because that’s all they’d fancied and it blew my mind. There should not be any rules on the way you eat, if you want to eat something then eat it and in the amounts you truly want to.
Addressing my mentally restrictive thoughts. This can be one of the hardest things to heal as your inner critic can be your own worst enemy. This week I’ve committed to going with the original idea that comes into my head before the critic butts in. This can be really tricky because sometimes your thoughts can be overwhelming, making it difficult to even work out what is your intuition and true voice and what is the voice of the eating disorder. I tend to focus on the first thought that comes into my conscience. So if I think I want some pasta and then my brain started racing and analysing everything I’ve already eaten that day and persuades me to choose something different.. I’m eating the pasta. It is so liberating to finally honour myself in this way and the more I am doing it, the louder I can hear my intuition kicking in.
Speaking up. This is the most scary of all the useful tools, telling someone. Binging tends to come with a lot of shame. Not eating is a lot more glamourous than saying you can’t stop eating. However, doing this has taken so much pressure off myself. Before I started documenting things more openly here and on Instagram, only a handful of people knew what I’m going through but just having someone there to text or tell makes the world of difference. Sometimes the acknowledgment that you may be about to binge is enough to make you feel more grounded and less inclined to do so. I’ve made the decision that next time my family are together I am going to tell them what I have been through with my eating disorder. I am absolutely terrified but I’d hate for them to find out through a mutual friend..or this blog. I know this is the next stage in my recovery.
Having food available. I used to think I was more likely to binge when I had “bad foods” in the house when in fact the opposite is true. Whenever I haven’t done a food shop, I enter into a last supper mentality when my brain tells me to each as much as possible because subconsciously I am worrying about when I will next be able to eat. I’m making sure that I have a variety of foods available to me at home. When you first stop dieting it can be hard to work out what you would like to eat because suddenly you have options and are no longer bound to rules, wahoo! Start by stocking up on all the things that you loved to eat before the diet cycles began and then try to identify from there what foods you particularly enjoy and feel good to eat both physically and mentally.
Tuning in and not zoning out. Long gone are the days when a meal time is a chance to have a bit of peace and quiet. Nowadays taking a photo of your meal from every angle is the norm whilst also FaceTiming, WhatsApping, updating Facebook and watching TV. Make your eating times a chance for you to sloooooow down. Lately, I’ve committed to taking a walk and eating in the park on my lunch break and in the evenings, sitting at a table without my phone nearby. This really helps to honour your hunger/fullness and also allows you a chance to check in with yourself and how you are feeling. It’s important to spend time being inward focused as most of our day is spent concentrating on everything that’s going on around us. This simple action has really helped me get to know myself better and helped prevent me from becoming so mentally frazzled!
Working out what is at the root of the restriction. I have mentioned this in previous posts but it is really important! Food is not the problem, it’s a symptom of something else at the surface, such as a fear of putting on weight. If this is what is the biggest fear for you then you have to work hard on self love and get to a place where you will truly accept (and love) yourself regardless of the size of your body. Make sure your social media is purged of anyone that makes you feel inadequate. Your body is a vessel for you to exist in and its size and weight have no correlation to your worth. You weren’t put on this Earth to be as small as possible!
Allowing the binges to happen. Ok so this may sound totally counter-productive but sometimes binging is the quickest way your body can deliver you comfort in that moment. The more you get upset and angry with yourself, the more shame surrounds the binges and the more you will try and control things so that they don’t happen again. I no longer allow my inner critic to shout at me when the binges happen, I haven’t “messed up”, I’ve had an experience which I can learn from and move forward from. Speaking to yourself kindly can completely change your relationship with yourself. Remember that you can become a victim of your own internal dialogue and addressing this is really important. Never say anything to yourself which you wouldn’t say to a loved one.
It can be easy to feel like you have done everything you can to prevent binges from happening. I’ve been in that mindset, but when I’ve looked into my behaviours it is clear that there have been some disordered/restrictive patterns still happening which in turn means that the binging continues. The ideas above are just a start and it takes time to trial what works best for you. This isn’t a race and it is well worth putting in the time to truly work out where you can best improve your relationship with food and your body. I also always recommend reading as much as you can about the topic too and have found both Jamie Mendell & Isobel Foxen Duke‘s websites as brilliant places to start.
Is there anything in particular that you’ve found key in reducing the binge urges? I’d love to hear about your experiences with this and if any of the things I have listed above have worked for you?