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Had a binge eating session? 5 ways to get back on track psychologically

Okay, so you have had a binge…you’re feeling low.. now what?

There are hundreds of videos and blogs out there telling you what to eat, eat protein, drink water, eat healthily and I think it is all really good advice, however our logical brain is going, yes I know that but I can’t seem to do it. We all know that we might have one part of us telling us these things, have some chicken salad, eat some fruit yet we have the unconscious and emotional side of us overtaking our thoughts and telling ourselves non helpful stuff like – don’t eat anything, you’ve eaten far too much or what the hell, you’ve ruined your good day so you may as well eat everything you want and go for it. No matter how hard we try we can’t switch off the non helpful voice and we end up in the same restrict binge cycle as we were in before. We have to train our brain and do something different so we can stop these binge eating patterns repeating themselves.

Here are some tips on what you can do straight after you have had a binge eating session so you stop the binge and restrict restrict cycle

  1. Breathe.

    I mean deep breathing. This is to break your state, break your pattern of thinking and give you some time to let the logical brain come in. After a binge, we often move straight into feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment and because our behaviour has been full on, we often want to react by either say oh sod it and carry on bingeing or totally restrict ourselves. This is what we want to break, this all or nothing pattern. Breathing is a way to stop and pause our emotions. It also stops and pauses our thoughts and any frantic feelings. The way to do it is to; breathe in for 4 secs, hold for 4, release for 4, hold the out breath for 4. This is such a good habit to get into. The ideal is that you do this in the morning for anything up to 12 rounds. It is like building your bank of calm. And then when you need it, do a few rounds and it is helping you to re set. Now that you are calm and can think a little, the next step is to..
  1. Change your environment

    If you have just had a binge eating session you no doubt are feeling very low. You might either want to punish yourself by telling yourself all the things that you can’t have or go all out now and carry on bingeing. We want to change our mindset and one of the easiest ways to do that is to change our environment. After you have taken a good few deep breaths move your body and move to somewhere else. This might sound simple but moving your body interrupts that pattern of thought and then moving somewhere else gets you out of that thought pattern and gets you away from temptation if you are near food or even thinking about food.
  1. Be kind to yourself.

    It is easy to fall into the trap of berating ourselves, telling ourselves how rubbish and out of control we are. How useless we are that we couldn’t stop ourselves. Anything that is no doubt harsh on us. Work out why you are doing this? What is the purpose that it is serving? What are you trying to achieve? Chances are you are trying to stop yourself from doing it again, but if we use a bit of logic here – if you have done that pattern before and you still binge, it is not going to work this time. How good does it feel to talk to ourselves in this way? Not very good I should imagine. Now what that ends up doing is pushing our behaviours completely the other way into denying ourselves food. Because we have been so bad, we now need to go without. Have you ever felt restricted, not allowed something, all we want to do is break out and do it or have it. We want to feel free and live life on our terms. Not some rules that we put on ourselves. Start by being kind to yourself. Give ourselves some understanding of why you binged out. Take away the judgement that you were too weak, bad, irresponsible. Bring in a level of acceptance where you were just being human and repeating old patterns. You were just reacting to your restrictiveness. By bringing in that understanding and kindness we can start to be nicer to ourselves, which will bring in this balance within ourselves. Forgive yourself.
  1. Understand your patterns of binge eating.

    Ideally you would now have followed the steps of breathing deeply to pause and give your body space to calm. Moved your body and moved yourself away from food so you can think differently. There you have shown yourself some understanding, compassion, and reassurance. When you are out of that panic mode, now is the time to work out what your triggers are? What sets you off on a binge eating session? What are the feelings you feel before binging? Because we have been able to calm ourselves and give ourselves some positive understanding, we are able to answer with a level of curiosity.  Why did you eat the food you did? What did that food mean to you? Did it satisfy you? Did you want the sweetness, or saltyness? What did those flavours stop you from feeling? What is the opposite to when you binge? In other words, are you coming out of a restrictive period or were you denying yourself something, what was it for you? Understanding all of this allows us to gain better insight into our patterns of eating and what we are doing. It is getting us away from acting on autopilot to being mindful and eating on purpose. We are finding that peace with food and peace within ourselves.
  1. Resist the urge to go on a diet

    If you are feeling sick, bloated, annoyed with yourself the first thing you may want to do is to restrict your food intake. Noooooo, I am going to shout at you, nooooo don’t do it. It is this all or nothing, that is causing you to snap the other way and binge out. Going on a restrictive diet, because maybe you want to lose weight is not the answer. If you are really hungry you get to the hangry point, all of us will be driven by that hunger and eat anything that is in front of us, so by not restricting you are also not pushing yourself to snap and binge out. Go and have a big drink of water, hydrate yourself, then plan your next days meals. If you think about it now, you can think logically about it, how you can make it healthier and still satisfying, you can also do any prep like make things or bring food into work with you. Planning ahead also stops you getting very hungry so you are tempted to eat rubbish food.

Hope that is helpful.

About Vanessa McLennan

Vanessa is an emotional eating expert with a passion for natural health, superfoods and psychology. She helps women from all over the world to successfully lose weight by escaping the diet cycle and end their emotional eating patterns. She holds a diploma in Hypnotherapy as well as qualifications in EMDR, EFT, Emotional Eating, IBS therapist. Check out her free guide to help you break free of the diet cycle www.vanessamclennan.com/lp/break-free