Instead of binge eating, you could do something joyful. Might sound crazy, but it’s true. I’ve got 6 awesome things you can do that will actually stop your binge impulses and make you feel better. Right now.
And there’s an awesome printable reminder to stick on your fridge.
What’s up with Binge Eating?
The thing with binge eating is, it isn’t ‘bad’ unless you feel it is. If you binge, feel fine, and find it an constructive way to deal with whatever you’re going through, I think it’s a perfectly legitimate strategy. Eating food is a great way to feel love, connection, and relaxation – so if you’re feeling a lack of those things, it’s only natural –and totally sensible – that you’d turn to foods (perhaps in large amounts) to get them. And that’s totally ok.
However, if you’re feeling sick, guilty, shameful, gaining weight, or otherwise unhappy about it, then it’s not so great. That cycle of binge-shame-control-binge is a nasty place to get stuck.
You don’t even necessarily have to be binging on a lot of food to feel these effects. I had a client who told me about her ‘binge eating’ – telling me that she would regularly eat a cheese sandwich before going to sleep at night and that for her, that was binge eating and it made her feel both out of control and ashamed of herself, even though it was just a sandwich. This seems like an extremely minor issue to those of you who struggle with this on a grander scale, but it’s no less real or painful.
Causes of Binging
Luckily, no matter how your binge eating manifests, there are three main causes of binge behaviour, and they are all totally overcomable (maybe not a word, but you know what I mean). While you do need long-term life changes to truly start transforming your binging for good, there are things you can do right now instead of binge eating.
Three Causes of Binge Eating:
- Need for relaxation
- Release of control
Let’s look at each one of these a little bit.
This is often the case if you skip meals, eat food throughout the day that’s not got much going for it in the way of nutrition, or when you do eat you’re eating quickly or are very distracted from your food. All these conditions mean you’re not getting enough goodness from your food, you’re body and brain feel deprived, and therefore contrive to get that nutrition by screaming ‘HUNGRY! EAT ALL THE THINGS!’. Hello, binge. This is especially likely if your bines happen in the late afternoon or evening.
If this sounds like you, instead of binging you can try
- Eating a really nutritious snack or even a small meal. Sit down, focus on it, breathe, and eat with all your senses.
- Heat up some miso soup – it’s super rich in vitamins and minerals and can really help curb cravings and leave you feeling more relaxed and able to deal.
Need for relaxation:
The bottom line is: binging can only occur if you’re in a stress response. No one binges at leisure. It’s a fast-paced, panicky rush. But, if you eat enough food the body is literally forced into a relaxed state to digest all that grub. So, if you’ve spent your day tense, worried, or stressed, chances are that your binging is actually all about relaxing. This is totally understandable. Of course you want to relax, and using food is one of the easiest ways to get there.
However, if you’d like to try something else:
- Pamper yourself – do an at home facial, a foot scrub, watch a favourite TV show, whatever helps you relax and unwind. Try it for a good 60 minutes. Give yourself permission to binge AFTER that if it’s not working for you. This can help take the pressure off.
- You can read more about this here, but basically, this is all about getting out of you head, doing some drawing or colouring, and relaxing into the flow of things. It’s a great stress reliever.
Release of control:
Many of us try to control our lives and have perfectionist tendencies. We rush around doing what we can to make sure our lives, our work, our relationships are exactly what we want them to be. We keep ourselves tightly controlled, especially in interpersonal situations that might make us a bit uncomfortable. Maybe we control our words and never get to say what we mean. Or our actions and never get to do what we really want. We hold all this in tight and somewhere this has got to leak. And when it does, binge eating is a pretty common outcome.
The binge is a release of this control – like its counterweight. It gives us the ability to keep on going in those other areas of our lives where we can’t, or won’t, express our true selves. It’s not that the binge is our true selves either, but a gross magnification of the opposite energy we’re using in the rest of our life. Instead of binge eating because you need a release, try:
- Venting to a friend. If you can’t say what you need to at the time, call a friend and have a good old venting session. Maybe warn them beforehand that that’s what you need, and then go for it. Get it all out and see if you still want to binge afterwards.
- Dancing. Close the curtains, lower the lights, put on some music and move your body. Feel the music, feel your body. Set yourself a four song minimum and really dance it out. This helps you not only release some of the tension and control over your mind, body, words, actions, and everything, but it gets you in a more embodied state (which is the true secret behind waving your binging goodbye)
Instead of binge eating, find some joy
You can see that to truly work on binge eating, you have to be prepared to really examine your self and life and put in the time and reflection to really transform them. But, these six alternatives to binging can provide some relief when the going gets tough and you need a quick fix.
And to help you out, I’ve made the ideas above into a handy printout you can stick to your fridge as a reminder. Next time you’re going to rummage around in the kitchen, instead of binge eating take a look at this list, take a few deep breaths, and try something different. It’s ok if it doesn’t work right away and you binge anyway. It’ll happen. Just keep on loving yourself, keep on trying, and you’ll do great.
As always, if you feel like you need a little extra support, I’m here. Binge eating is an area I love to work with because you can get such great results pretty quickly. You can use this contact form to shoot me a question or comment and I’ll do my best to give you some help with your eating 🙂
So, if you’ve read this far – you’re awesome! How about leaving me a comment? Tell me: What do you do when you feel an urge to binge?