Chances are, at some point or another, you’ve felt out of control around food. One piece of chocolate turns into two or three, maybe five or six, maybe even the whole darn box. And what’s next? The guilt floods in. The shame. Why did I let this happen? There’s a couple reasons we struggle with binges, but the good news is that they’re all correctable. You don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed anymore. Eating what you enjoy can be simple again.
Step 1) Cntrl + Find + Replace
Have you ever finished writing an essay on Microsoft word, only to find out you’ve spelled the author’s name wrong about 26 times? What do you do? Hit Cntrl, Find, Replace on the incorrect word, and replace every instance with the correct one. Your first step to stop binging is to treat the word “binge” itself as the incorrect word, and imagine you’re running a Cntrl + Find + Replace search over your life. Anytime you want to use the word binge, you’re going to replace it with the word “overeat”. More on why this is important in step 2.
Step 2) Detach From the Guilt and Shame
The primary reason we Cntrl + Find + Replace ‘d “binge” in step 1 is because that word has so many negative, shameful connotations attached to it. If you’re like many people, the word “binge” itself is enough to make your tummy ache and cortisol levels rise. That’s because every time we’ve overeaten in the past, we’ve responded with self-degradation, feelings of inadequacy, and guilt. In other words, it’s not the act of
binging overeating itself that is the worst offender, it’s how we’ve learned to interpret it. Before we can go onto step 3, re-interpreting what it means to overeat, it’s important to check what we think we know about binges overeating at the door. There’s no room for any shame, guilt, or punishment surrounding food choices in a binge-free life.
Step 3) A Willing Reality Check
There’s something we need to understand about instances of overeating: it’s natural. It’s human nature to get overwhelmed by certain smells, tastes, and the feelings they evoke in us and consume a tad more fuel than we intend to. Mindless eating? Normal. Stress eating? Normal. Now obviously it’s not entirely healthy to eat mindlessly every day, to overeat to the point of discomfort regularly, but the point is that allowing it to happen once in awhile does not a villain make. Once you accept that overeating is something that literally everyone does, it’s a lot easier to forgive yourself for letting it happen to you. And when you allow this forgiveness to take the place of all the guilt and shame you previously associated with overeating, the binge cycle starts to break down.
Step 4) Honor Your Cravings
Overeating will happen from time to time, but you can limit it by doing one thing (hint hint it’s the oldest trick in the book). Honor your cravings and eat intuitively. We tend to overeat the things that we internally regard as “bad” or “off limits”. These labels are the reason that you feel like once you have one you seem to lose control or can’t stop because your mind is already actively missing them while you’re eating in response to knowing they’ll be off limits again soon. Crazy right? We should enjoy our favorites while we’re eating them, and stop when we’re satisfied. If you’ve lost touch with your hunger cues through restriction or disordered eating, feeling comfortable in intuitive eating will take some time. It’s well worth investing in, though, because regular allowance of your favorite foods into your diet makes you 100x less likely to overeat them on the regular.
Step 5) Have Back-Ups Lined Up
Remember in step 3 how we said overeating is natural? That means it happens to the best of us. I personally am not as triggered by overeating in a social setting because why would I chose to be miserable over a bit of extra fuel when the company is so great? What really gets to me, and many people, is emotional or stress overeating. When tensions run high, it’s natural to want to fill the void with comfort foods. Instead, have a list prepared of several different activities to do instead of overeating. You can make your own list, or download the free 8 Things To Do Instead of Binge worksheet that I created below. Heck, why not do both? Mix and match activities to see what works for you, and what brings your anxieties down to the point that you don’t feel the urge to overeat.
The most important thing to remember about overeating, is that it does not in any way take away from the incredible and successful person that you are. Food is not the enemy, and we can change the way we think about it. So change the tape on binging, don’t give that word and it’s negativity the power to make you feel less than. And when in doubt just refer to your steps and your back-up activities. You’re ready for that happy, healthy relationship with food!
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