This has got to be the question I’ve asked myself often over the last few decades. How do I stop binge eating? It’s hard, really hard to stop. What makes it worse is when people close to you, people you care about tell you all you have to do is push back from the table and just don’t eat so much. Wow. As if I couldn’t figure that out for myself.
What these unhelpful people don’t realize, is that the eating disorder is pretty much the same as a substance addiction. Instead of alcohol, meth, cocaine we use food. The thinking pattern “this will make me feel better”, the sensation of being unable to stop is the same.
I think being addicted to alcohol, drugs or nicotine is actually easier to overcome as you don’t need to use those daily to survive. But you do need to eat. How do you stop binge eating when you’re going to eat at least three times a day?
One thing I’ve learned is that you need to know what your triggers are. I didn’t even know what my triggers were at the beginning of my treatment. Now I have a better idea. When I deal with my mother, I’ll get of the phone and instantly want food to feel better.
It’s not even a conscious thought. I just walk to the fridge and look, then open the freezer, then realize I have nothing here and I want to pull out my hair. I’ve never tried binging on soup but I have binged on baby carrots before.
When you’re in the binge mindset you don’t think, it’s like a monster has taken over your body and you need whatever it is or you’re going to die. My hands have shook, I’ve pulled my hair, I’ve cried but I’ve stopped from laying on the floor and throwing a tantrum.
When you’re in the monster binge mindset, you don’t think. I’ve put up signs on my fridge thinking I would look at them and be able to come back to myself and circumvent a binge. But I don’t actually look at the front of the fridge so those signs don’t work.
That’s really the part I struggle with in my trying to stop binge eating right now. The skill of kicking my mind out of the monster binge mindset.
What has somewhat worked is just not having stuff where I live that I know I’ll binge on. it took me a long time to realize what foods those were. Plus after I had been in eating disorder therapy for awhile I thought I could handle those foods but was proven wrong.
I just can’t have it in the house because once the urge to binge hits me and I’m in the binge mindset, I’ll eat that food mindlessly and then hate myself after.
There are also foods that even if I’m not in the binge eating mindset, I’ll binge on just because they’re there. Ice cream cake, pie, kuchen, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, donuts. It’s like a recovering alcoholic that can’t have alcohol in the house.
So now that I’ve removed the food out of the house that I know i extremely hard to resist, my next step to stop binge eating is to make a list of what to do when I’m in the urge to binge.
I have an app on my phone called Rise Up that has a list of things to do under Coping Skills. I use the 911 Distress options when I’m in the horrid binge mindset.
The benefit of doing this is that it reminds you of all the coping skills you know, but forgot when you were in the binge mindset. My eating disorder doctor, Dr S, says that’s because when you’re in the mindset you can’t think of anything else. So this app helps circumvent that binge mindset and knock us out.
There are several different coping skills under the 911 Distress tab and there are arrows to tab through them. Call a friend, candlelight meditation, dance around, relax to music are some of them.
Generally if you can distract yourself and wait, the overwhelming binge monster will go away and you can pat yourself on the back for surviving. Or give yourself a sticker. Seriously, the sticker is a visible reward that you see and proves that you did it, you didn’t binge and you can do it again.