I JUST WANT TO BINGE…
It’s the end of the day and you’ve just come home from work - exhausted, rummaging through the pantry your worst enemy welcomes you home. It’s that voice in the back of your head that wants you to binge. The same voice that a week ago told you to go for gold on the packet of fun-size chocolate bars that you really just wanted one of. The same voice that after a few drinks the previous week drew you to the pantry when you got home and made you eat till you were sick. You hate this voice. Even though you recognise you’ve come so far on your health and fitness journey at times this voice just drags you down. How do you get on top of it?
That little voice is called an urge. Many people who suffer from a binge eating disorder or partake in regular binges have that little voice that sets off the entire downward spiral of:
2. Self loathe
4. Swear it will be the last time
Those who suffer describe the voice as the popular binge eating therapeutic read ‘Brain over Binge’ does - ‘the animal brain’. Essentially the animal brain is the ‘deadweight’ side of the brain causing negative thoughts, forethoughts and destructive behaviour resulting in adverse effects. This notion that there is in fact a negative subconscious interference by an element of the brain has resonated quite familiarly for the clients we’ve managed binge eating urges with.
What is the animal brain’s relationship with food?
It’s one of destruction. To your animal brain food is not a fear, it’s very much the opposite. It’s:
- A coping mechanism
- An outlet
- Momentary pleasure
- A reward
So in the moment of the urge what there will always be from your animal brain is a justification. You know, the times that little voice tells you that you deserve it, or that it’s so worth it because food is life, or that it’s fine because you can just do cardio or start again tomorrow. Sometimes the animal brain feeds off these justifications as a strength that will always trump your logic, rationality and commitment to your health and fitness goals in the heat of the moment. In a very real way, it’s a foreign side of the brain to the true you. In Brain Over Binge Hanson says,
“Throughout my years of binge eating, it was obvious to me that my urges to binge were inconsistent with my true self — the person I believed myself to be in the present and the one I wanted myself to be in the future… My urges felt intrusive, often arriving when I least expected them and taking over my mind and body like a thief, driving me to do something I knew I’d regret.”
In resonating with the thoughts that don’t belong to you, you may find comfort that even though your thoughts may not be under your control your actions most certainly are.
When the little voice starts...
1. Reach out to your coaches or a close supporter:
If you’re fortunate enough to be supported through the process of bettering your relationship with food by a professional or friend, reach out when you’re feeling shaky for support and management strategies on how to combat the instance. This will be an extremely difficult thing to do as when the urge comes along all you’ll want to do is give in to it however all it will take is a simple verbalisation and rationality to talk through the situation with someone on your team.
2. Wait it out:
This will again be one of the most difficult things you’ll do in the moment and might be the longest 10 or so minutes of your life but it will be extremely empowering and liberating as well as the possible Saving Grace to beating a binge. Instead of impulsively acting on the binge by taking yourself straight to the pantry, just take a moment to stop and rationalise, give yourself 10 minutes to lose the adrenalin and rationalise through the demands of the animal brain.
3. Get rid of the ‘bingey foods’:
If you’re having thoughts about particular foods in your pantry or novelties that you’ve bought from the grocery store you’re dying to demolish, remove them and simply throw them away or have them stored with a friend or family member until you feel strong enough to not be tempted by them. Do this in your 10-minute binge delay. You’ll have to really take the animal brain head-on at this point though, again, it might be your tool of success for dodging a binge.
4. Leave the house, go for a walk:
You can therapeutically deal with managing the present issue and find comfort in doing something leisurely like leaving the house for a walk, getting a massage or some pampering but all in all just focusing on leaving the environment facilitating these urges.
If you are looking for ideas for something to distract yourself we would suggest something that involves physical movement and also takes you away from any possible binge foods. Something as simple as going for a walk can be extremely effective.
Here are some other suggestions:
- Go for a run around the block.
- Go for a drive.
- Go to the beach or a scenic lookout.
- Have a bath.
- Do a facial.
- Online shop.
- Phone a friend or your partner.
- Clean the house.
- Listen to music - have a dance!
- Play with the kids or your siblings.
5. Compare your progress so far:
If you’re on a body transformation journey, further motivate yourself and do a comparison of your progress so far. If you’re new to your journey, instead remember how far you’ve come on your mental journey and work out how many days you’ve been binge free and use either/or as motivation to pull the handbrake on going backwards. If you make progress, recognise it and be proud! Positivity and a good streak of pride will keep you rolling on a mission to put a stop to binge eating. In the past, you may have been used to rewarding yourself with a binge, or a cheat day. Find other ways to make yourself feel spoilt with less destructive consequences. You don’t have to remove food from the equation, in fact you may take yourself for a dine-out meal with friends that you account for and track but is still a special occasion that will make you feel rewarded.
6. Remember your goals:
Don’t lose sight of your goals ahead. Whether it be future fat loss, a comp prep, shaking an eating disorder or restoring your relationship with food - keep in mind these goals and your desire to get to that place on content one day. Ask yourself, IS IT WORTH IT!? Anything worth fighting for and enduring good and bad times will be priceless when you achieve it so keep those goals at the forefront of your mind as motivation to beat the binge urges.
7. Utilise calorie-free options as appetite suppressants:
Have some water, coffee, tea or a sugar-free cordial/diet soda to curb cravings and allow time to pass during your ‘wait it out’ period.
8. Wait it out again:
So you’ve made it through the first 10-minute block post-binge urge? Congratulate yourself (not with food) for resisting the binge urge for a full 10 minutes, challenge yourself again to wait it out through another 10-minute block and in this time the urges will hopefully become lesser and lesser till gone. Repeat this process as many times as the urge arises. As you continue to practice this technique you will notice the length of time you are able to resist a binge urge increasing. Your binge urges will become less intense and frequent, until they eventually disappear altogether.
9. Track the food you’ve consumed for the day so far for caloric intake awareness:
By putting in everything you’ve eaten for the day in a calorie counting tool and assuming a binge will be well in excess of your maintenance intake it can give you an awareness of calories and how damaging a binge can be to your day. Remember fat loss and fat gain is put down to calories in vs. calories out and if you’re eating in excess of your calorie expenditure weight gain will result.
Remember… managing urges is a technique and takes PRACTICE to be perfected!
What happens if you give in and binge?
You may do well for a few hours/days/weeks, and then suddenly it feels like you have no choice but to binge and you give in to the urge; regardless of choice you could just put it down to a weak moment and the learning curve portion with your recovery. After all, you’re not going to stop binging overnight.
Note: We do not promote binging or giving into temptation and do believe there is ample potential in any of the above management strategies to overcome a binge urge. However, it’s part of having a professional understanding of the process to see the logic in that there’s no overnight cure and recovery is full of highs, lows and crawling before walking.
Why Flexible Dieting is your indisputable answer AND best chance of beating binging for good
Flexible dieting is the dieting method based on a scientific calculation of what your body requires in terms of protein, fats and carbs and uses foods of preference to meet these. Food is seen as not good nor bad but rather for how the body recognises it - as protein, fats and carbs. In shifting from a mindset that food is either good or bad, allowed or banned or for when dieting or not dieting this can ultimately lead to a better relationship with food through:
- Fewer anxieties surrounding what to eat and not eat
- Ability to be more flexible and dine out etc
- Fit in foods as they're felt like rather than saving it for an off day, binge or uncontrolled moment
- Maintaining a balanced diet and being able to have reasonable portions rather than going hard or going home
- Having more control over your daily diet and not feeling bound to rules
- Ability to shift into a less rigid and more sustainable approach for life in intuitively eating
Are you struggling with binge eating? Our team are industry leaders in flexible dieting for body transformation success and bettering relationships with food and beating the binge. Ask us today how you can make binge eating a thing of the past, while giving your body the intake it needs, enjoying good you love and reaching your body goals.