When my patients come to me struggling with binge eating they feel desperate, ashamed and skeptical.
The desperation is about wanting this behaviour to stop. It’s something that they’ve been struggling with for years (sometimes decades) and they’re so sick and tired of the cycle.
These patients show a great deal of shame around their relationship with food. They feel like they ‘should’ be able to get this ‘under control’ and that they ‘shouldn’t’ need help. It’s been their own private struggle for so long that they feel alone and scared.
Skepticism is seen when we start talking about actually recovering from binge eating. As much as they want to be done with it, they’re not convinced that they’ll ever be free. After-all, they’ve tried EVERYTHING!
The progression of binge eating recovery
An important part of the process, it to understand that it’s a process.
Recently a woman was telling me about her recent ‘binge day’. She woke up and just knew that today was going to go sideways.
She’s been struggling since childhood with emotional, stress and binge eating. Over the last few years she’s had great success with reducing her binge eating as she really started to embrace the concept of ‘pleasure food’ and found new ways to cope with uncomfortable feelings.
Covid has changed her life so much, as it has for most of us. And she’s starting to struggle a bit more.
Key learning here! When old patterns start to re-emerge, it’s not a sign that you’re failing. It’s that your stress now outweighs your ability to cope.
If we look back to a few years ago this woman would’ve eaten her way through the day, feeling guilty the whole time, beating herself up the whole time, and then she would’ve carried on with the guilt and self-deprecation into the next day or two (possibly longer).
This time, she pulled out a journal and decided to write about her feelings all day. She still ate all day, but she was ALSO writing.
Key learning here! When the way that you engage with unwanted behaviours start to change, you’re making progress.
I created the graphic above to help her (and you) understand the progression of recovering from binge eating, stress eating and/or emotional eating.
It’s quite specifically a horizontal line and not a linear graph. Sliding between the stages is normal and expected. It’s not failing. Let me say that again. It’s not failing to slide into a stage that you’ve already passed through. It’s simply an indicator that your stress has surpassed your coping strategies so you had to pick up an old one to get through.
Time for some maintenance
The opportunity now is to practice self-compassion, examine what’s happening in your life and if you can, make adjustments.
Women are culturally trained to put everyone else’s needs first. You can only do what you can do. It’s okay to say ‘no’ or ‘not right now. What you can handle ordinarily will be very different than what you can handle when other stressors are added on.
When these old behaviours or thought patterns return, it’s like seeing the check engine light on your dashboard go on. This is bigger than regular maintenance. You may be able to put gas in the car, change a tire, check the pressure or even change the oil. But check the engine? Nope. That’s time to see the mechanic.
It’s the same for you. If these old behaviours are showing up, you can try some of your usual maintenance. Maybe that’s all you need. But if it’s not, it’s time to bring in a professional.
And just like the car, the earlier you bring yourself in, the less extensive and expensive the damage will be.
Dedicated to helping you find peace and power with your body,
P.S. I’m always happy to connect. You can book a free Food Freedom Discovery call here.