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I had no idea how to stop binge eating... I felt like an out-of-control animal that was pre-programmed to eat, eat and eat - no matter what.
There are hundreds of thousands of bingers battling bulimia... I was one of them... I was a compulsive eater who would devour everything in sight and then throw it all up...
To put it lightly, this vicious cycle of binge eating and purging made me feel like a freak...
I was lost in this dark haze for 12 years before I finally began to navigate the rocky road of recovery...
My recovery journey was - at times - hard as hell... But it was also incredibly beautiful... The further I moved away form bulimia - the more amazing this life looked.
Bulimia recovery was full of incredible lows and soaring highs... It was a journey full of road blocks, obstacles and hurdles... And it was a journey full of overcoming all of these.
Although difficult, I'd walk this path a million times over knowing where it got me! To peace. To happiness. To self love.
My bulimia recovery taught me so much about how to overcome bulimia and how to stop binge eating...
And I'd like to share some of what I discovered with you...
When I was suffering from bulimia and binge eating - for as long as I could remember I was supposed to be on a diet... I was supposed to be restricting my food... I was supposed to be depriving myself of what I enjoyed...
Dieting was one of the key things that triggered my bulimia and binge eating. The deprivation of diets made me want to eat everything that I was not allowed...
I needed to eat it all right now - because come tomorrow - I wasn't allowed it anymore.
If even one bit of food passed my lips that was 'wrong' or 'bad' or 'not on my diet' I had blown it... and if I had blown it I may as well blow it for the rest of the day too and start my diet again tomorrow.
It's as Geenen Roth says in her book Breaking Free from Emotional Eating (which I would definitely recommend you read)....
"As long as there is a voice of 'not allowed,' as long as there are foods you feel you shouldn't eat, you create struggle and conflict. As long as there is struggle, there is bingeing. And as long as there is bingeing there is fear of eating what you want."
So I'd like you to ask yourself the question...
Where have attempts to diet got you in the past?
I think I know the answer...
To my website... seeking for answers on how to stop binge eating!
It took me so many years to realize that dieting is a huge part of the problem and so it can not be part of the solution...
The key to overcoming binge eating lies in allowing yourself to eat! Give yourself permission to eat when you are hungry and to eat exactly what you feel like eating...
It is only then that the urge to devour the world will begin to subside.
If you have been battling eating disorders for a long time - listening to your hunger might be too difficult, like it was for me. Binge eating and bulimia blur our natural cues of when we want to eat and when we are full... and that is when structured eating can be so helpful...
Structured eating is like the halfway house to normal eating... I found it such a helpful tool in learning how to stop binge eating.
Structured eating is basically eating 3 meals and 3 snacks no longer than 3 hours apart.
You need to plan your meals, snacks and eating times the night before. This gives that all important structure to the early and uncertain days of recovery.
What I found so helpful about structured eating was that when I got the urge to binge, I could remind myself that food was not too far away... I knew the exact time I was going to eat and what it was going to be... This helped me to push through the binge urge and wait for my next meal or snack.
It's also important that you add fun foods or treat foods into your meal plans... This relates back to my first tip about ditching the diets. When you add these foods into your meal plans the urge to binge on them will gradually improve...
But as with all things, structured eating takes time to get right... Chances are you will slip up many times... That's okay - I did too! If you keep jumping back on board every time you slip - you will reach recovery... there is no doubt about that!
The community in The Bulimia Recovery Program say that structured eating is like the glue that keeps it all together in those early days of learning how to stop binge eating.
I had always been afraid of pain. I was especially terrified of letting others see when I was in pain. The way I dealt with this was to push back my emotions with food... To numb myself with chocolate, bread, cookies, bagels, pizza, cereal and anything else I could get my hands on.
Somewhere in the journey of my life I had developed the belief that pain was bad and must be avoided at all costs.
This belief took me to hell and back again.
The belief that pain is bad, wrong or avoidable created anxiety, frustration, fear and confusion! All of these emotions then caused a response within me that said "Eat so that you don't feel pain".
Being so afraid of feeling pain made me fall into emotional binge eating - time and time again...
The truth is that pain is part of life. Hurting is part of healing. Uncomfortable emotions are survivable.
Without pain, there would be no happiness... The two are linked like the moon and the tides. We need to experience both to live fully on this complex and beautiful planet.
By pushing away my pain with food I was also pushing away my happiness.
That is why for my 3rd tip on how to stop binge eating, I'd like to suggest that you allow yourself to feel your emotions.
Next time you feel angry, frustrated, sad or just plain old yuck - stop for a while. Sit down in a quiet place... Close your eyes if it helps... and tune into what you are feeling. Try not to judge it... Just allow whatever you are feeling to wash over you like a wave on a sandy beach. Allow yourself to be saturated by the emotion - to feel it in all it's honesty.
Just as the emotion surfaced, it will gradually peak and then subside.
You can survive your emotions... And each time you do, you'll walk out better equipped to beat bulimia and binge eating!
I hope you found these 3 tips on 'how to stop binge eating' helpful... For more tips and to read other peoples stories of binge eating, click here.
Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community