Confession time: I binged again. It sucks. And it sucks even more lately because I feel like someone who teaches others how to stop binge eating can’t be a binge eater herself!
“I can’t be doing this. It’s my freakin’ job to not do this!” my mind shrieks.
Sheesh. Talk about a double whammy of shame.
Today I’d like to share why my latest long-term binge happened and how I got through it unlike any binge before. I hope you find it helpful if you struggle with binge eating too.
Let’s start from the beginning.
[Side note: This was originally posted almost five years ago exactly. While I am now updating it to have more clarity and conciseness (because my writing has come a long way in five years), the content itself remains the same.]
Why I binged again: My “gradual binge bender” of 2018
About 3 weeks ago, I went on a gradual binge bender, which is my term for overeating a little each day for a long period of time. This one lasted about 2 weeks.
My gradual binge bender led to some weight gain, some bloat, and a lot of panic.
This is the first time that a long-term binge has happened since I gave up dieting back in 2016, so panic-mode was fully engaged. I was struggling with feeling like a fraud and other heavy emotions around my behavior.
When you couple my shame with the feelings that I was already not feeling (because that’s what every binge stems from: uncomfortable feelings that you’re trying to numb), I was about to face a whole mountain of discomfort.
But this is what I signed up for, right? Feeling your feelings is the bedrock of Psycho-Spiritual Wellness (my anti-diet approach to stopping compulsive eating), so yeah, this is EXACTLY what I signed up for.
Knowing how to stop binge eating, but not doing it
tools. As you know, the Stop, Drop, and Feel (SDF) is my favorite method for stopping a binge in its tracks.
It simply involves getting curious about your feelings when you’re about to binge or on a binge. Nine times out of ten, it gives you the ability to choose to feel those feelings instead of numbing with food.
This is my favorite tool because it works! Try it before you dismiss it, because it is truly amazing how it takes the compulsion out of compulsive eating (which means you have access to free will, and you can choose to eat or not eat – truly).
Here’s a video on how it works:
Sometimes the discomfort is too high to be willing to feel your edginess, though. This was my case these last few weeks.
I had just moved into a new apartment that had more quirks than I hoped; sustained a knee injury that kept me from my favorite things like surfing; and felt stuck with a heavy case of loneliness.
As the binges slowly started happening, I was aware of it. But I couldn’t stop. Many of us know this as being in awareness hell. Each time I ate past fullness, I knew it was because I was so freaking uncomfortable that I was seeking comfort (and distraction) from food.
And I couldn’t stop, it seemed.
After I binged again, I panicked
I knew it was my feelings that were driving the binges. I knew that I just needed to sit with the discomfort instead of eating. But my brain was saying one thing and my body was doing another. The edginess was just too high. I kept eating.
Diet mentality came in full swing: “Maybe I should just eat keto for a few days. That always helps me get rid of bloat and shed weight quickly. That’s not a diet. That’s just healthy, right?” (If the restriction results in binge eating, then yeah, it’s a diet.)
Something was different this time, though. Instead of getting seduced by the control of dieting, I decided to test my strength.
Rolling up my sleeves, and practicing what I preach
As I trudged through the heavy sludge of emotion, I tried my hardest to stay committed to not dieting, since I know that dieting always leads to binges. And I practiced the SDF a lot.
(I also wrote a letter to remind myself of why I started this journey. You can read it here: An open letter to anyone thinking about dieting again)
I spent the last few weeks with large chunks of alone time, just lying on my bed and letting my emotions wash over me. For long stretches each afternoon, it was just me and all my edginess, going face-to-face.
And you know what happened? I didn’t die like I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong: I felt like crud.
And I survived. And most importantly, the binges ended and my weight is starting to normalize and I did the whole thing without resorting to dieting.
Let’s look at this through a skill-building lens: dieting only helps you get better at dieting, which always ends in a binge. The Stop, Drop, & Feel helps you get better at sitting still with your discomfort, which ends in stopping binge eating.
I stopped binge eating by developing “grit”
That sounds incredible. And I feel incredible. It took so much hard work to develop this trait! And it’s not a one-and-done thing. It’s a decision I have to make on a regular basis to choose to face my inner dragons (i.e. feel my feelings in the precise moment where I really don’t want to) instead of protecting myself with (the false illusion of safety that comes with) a diet.
How You Can Stop Binge Eating Too
Giving up dieting was one of the best decisions of my life. Choosing to feel awful instead of reaching for food is a decision that I have to make on a daily basis. They are both really good decisions.
They help me stay sane around food and bounce back from binges much quicker, without falling into the restrict-binge cycle on most days. I am human, as are you, and that means we are not perfect, and we make mistakes. Fortunately, emotional tolerance is an evergreen skill that will help you in the long run. Dieting can’t claim that benefit.
If you’d like to learn more about this unique approach to stop overeating, grab my free ebook below that explains more about Psycho-Spiritual Wellness: