You probably did a double take with that one. Make the most of… a binge? You might feel like all the guilt in your mind (and food in your gut) already ruined your day. Why bother making peace with it?
As someone who has struggled with binge eating disorder for years, I’ve witnessed things shifting in me only when I started adopting an unconventional approach. Coming from a science background I thought to myself, “Why not treat this as scientific research?” My research question was, “What makes me turn to food, all the time, and not out of physiological hunger?” The binges became my fieldwork. For the next couple of months, I allowed myself to binge freely whenever the urge came up, making sure to give these tricks a try. The result? A dramatic decrease in the frequency of binges and more importantly, an appreciation of the deeper reasons behind this behavior.
1. Write or draw. You might feel sluggish immediately after a binge, but please write a few words or scribble a drawing that captures the moment. This will provide something solid to look back at when the binge is over. The writing/drawing does not have to look pretty or make sense. When you feel ready, make sure to go back to your work with the aim of identifying themes and triggers that might have led to the binge.
Here is a personal example of what this might look like:
Date: 8 May 2015
Feeling lonely & empty. Not lovable.
Moving out of house; chaotic. Graduating from school – stressful!
Cravings: Crunchy, sweet
Ate: Ice cream, nuts, cookies
Themes: I’m going through a major transition in my life. The uncertainty of moving to a new country triggered me. I need more social support and connection in my life. I try to fill up that void with food.
2. Give. It is not uncommon for a perceived or true lack of love, motivation, energy or purpose to trigger unwanted eating behavior. The antidote is quite counterintuitive – help fill other people’s reserves of love, joy, pleasure, etc. before attending to your own sense of lack. Altruism works well because we cannot distinguish between ‘self’ and ‘other’ very accurately. An act of kindness such as smiling to a stranger or serving food to the homeless at the soup kitchen may help you reconnect with your community and fill you up in a way that binges cannot.
3. Schedule a dinner date. Yes, more food but in a different context. When you binge, you likely neglect the taste/texture/aroma of the food. In contrast, a meal nourishes, satisfies, and energizes the body and the soul. So plan a dinner date with family, friends, or a significant other soon after a binge. Select a dish that you would enjoy, look at your food when you eat, try smelling the spices in your meal and enjoy the conversation with your date. The contrasting experiences of the binge and the meal will help reorient your attitude toward food.
Curious. Sensitive. Compassionate.
Betul is an Eating Psychology Coach (EPC) and a Medical Student at the University of Glasgow. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience from the University of Michigan.
Her “perfect storm” happened when she was diagnosed with binge eating disorder and depression in 2012, immediately after her father passed away. In the midst of a personal battle against food, her body and her soul, one question gradually overpowered the self-hate: What if this wasn’t a battle, but a lesson of surrender, trust, compassion, self-love and authenticity?
Her personal journey has fueled her in becoming an EPC and establishing her coaching practice, What The Butterfly (http://www.whatthebutterfly.com)/. At WTB, she focuses primarily on binge eating, overeating and body image challenges as Divine guides from beyond, helping clients discover the deeper message within their eating challenges.