Binge eating disorder is complex, if it was simple to understand and conquer then it wouldn't be such a big issue for so many people.
Binge eating disorder effects A LOT more people than you might think. Since opening up about my eating disorder I have connected with and learned about all kinds of people struggling with similar issues – thin people, chubby people, clean eaters, models, trainers, adults of all ages and even children. It's a funny thing to be addicted to food because you can't quit eating, you can quit eating for the wrong reasons but in general, you must eat food in order to exist. And so we must learn to have a healthy relationship with food, and it's a careful balance. But with some understanding and practice, it can be simpler than it seems!
My 5 top tips for binge eating recovery are these:
Never be bored
Learn how to feel negative emotions without reacting
Eat nutritious food from nature
Don't strive for perfection
1. Never get bored
Boredom is a killer. When someone asks you what you do in your free time, the answer can't be "I scroll through Instagram," there needs to be a lot more to your life. When we're bored or don't know how to fill up our free time, we resort to eating as an activity or a way to fill space. That seems so obvious but it's a big unlock to understanding binge eating disorder. It's really important to know what your life is about and what you do outside of school or work. What do you love doing, what do you look forward to, what skill are you refining, what hobbies are you obsessed with, what new education are you gaining, what do you contribute to your community? Once you're able to answer those questions, those activities take up space in your life instead of food. These have to be things you truly enjoy, they can't be things you're supposed to be doing or that check boxes on paper. It's also important to not do shit you hate, so if there are activities or commitments in your life that you loathe, get rid of them asap!
2. Learn how to feel negative emotions without reacting
Points 1 and 2 go hand-in-hand. Negative emotions can be anything, things like sadness, discomfort, anger, insecurity, loneliness, frustration, depression, worry, stress or body dysmorphia. These feelings are part of life and can arise at any time. When we're bored or have free time, these feelings tend to show up especially loud because we don't have any distractions. It's just us with space and time, needing to decide what to do. When negative emotions arise, one or many of them, consciously or unconsciously, binge eaters REACT. We react with food – ordering it, going to get it, cooking it, eating it, cleaning it up or hiding it and sometimes cycles of these activities.
A humongous key to binge eating recovery is to feel these feelings but do nothing! Just notice them and feel them, but don't shove them down or distract yourself from them with food. If you need to react in some way, make it to do something (anything!) that's nourishing and productive but not harmful. I like to make lists of ideas in advance so I can refer to them in times of need. Personally I lean into wellness activities or cleaning.
3. Eat nutritious food from nature
I think binge eating is mostly psychological but I do believe there is an aspect of physical addiction as well. In order to break free, you must flood your body with nutritious food that's high in fiber so you overthrow what you're made of from the inside out. This is any food from nature, veggies are king but also moderate fruit, raw nuts and seeds, whole grains, legumes, beans, high-quality oils and processed foods and lots of filtered water. Remember, you literally are what you eat, it becomes you! Your hair, skin, nails, blood and therefore your energy, mood, everything! Low-quality, processed, non-organic food is addicting, you need to start eating whole foods to restore your health, one bite at a time.
4. Stop restricting
Restriction causes binge eating, straight up. The more strict you are with yourself, the harder it is to stay on track and the more you want to do what you're not supposed to do. It's best to have basic guardrails to live by but to lead with listening to your body and allowing yourself what you need in the moment. For example, if you're craving a cookie at 4:00pm on a weekday, go for it! If you need Thai food for dinner, go for it. The trick is to always make the best decision that you can, so find a cookie with high-quality, whole ingredients and that's not made of chemicals, or eat a big salad first so you make sure get in your nutrients and fiber before your sweet treat. If you order take-out, make sure your order includes lots of veggies and maybe avoids fried food for example. Little things add up. Binge eating recovery and having a healthy relationship with food is a balance, make it less about rules and more about intuition.
5. Don't strive for perfection
Nothing needs to be 100%, and not anything about binge eating recovery is going to be perfect. No one's diet, lifestyle or regimen is perfect, success takes some flexibility. The key is to just keep going. Let your journey toward recovery be sloppy, let it be on and off or forward and back if it needs to be, because it would be surprising if it wasn't that way. The key is to keep it moving in the right direction. Had a slip up or broke one of your rules? No biggy, learn from the mistake and move on. Any other mentality can be detrimental because it turns one little offset into a really long digression. Keep things light and positive and you will see more forward momentum!
THOUGHTS, QUESTIONS, COMMENTS?? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET ME KNOW BELOW!
Ready to stop binge eating once and for all??!