Have you tried so many times to stop your Binge Eating? Each day you wake up and think, this is a new day, this is the day I am not going to binge. Then something happens and you give in and have a binge eating episode. It’s a never-ending cycle. You might have tried diets, sheer willpower, behavioural therapy but none of it has worked. Have you tried accessing and healing your inner child? Here I will explain how inner child work heals your binge Eating disorder.
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Binge Eating and Restriction
Binge Eating Disorder is classified as eating unusually large quantities of food in a short space of time. It is often followed by feelings such as guilt and or shame. It is also having a loss of control eating large amounts of food.
Binge Eating Disorder is not accompanied by any other activities to do with weight management such as over exercising or purging (vomiting).
You can refer here to the DSMV definition of the full-blown Binge-Eating Disorder
Body Image issues could also accompany BED in adults and be a hangover from childhood.
Binge Eating usually follows a cycle which keeps you in the behaviour and it is hard to escape. This is known as the Binge Eating cycle.
The Binge Eating Cycle
Something triggers you, meaning it causes an annoyance, a frustration or another feeling. The feeling could be unconscious, meaning you do not realise you are feeling the feeling. The trigger sets you off on the next point.
You find yourself craving your favourite foods. These might be junk foods such as chocolate, biscuits, and crisps. The cravings are intense and as much as you try to put them out of your mind or try distracting yourself, the cravings become too intense and you find yourself giving in.
3. Binge Eating
You end up not being able to resist and having a binge. All the favourite foods come out and you can’t stop. It is like you are going on autopilot because in the moment, you may feel a lack of control and you are in a zone.
4. Feelings of shame and guilt
After you have binged, then feelings of shame and or guilt set in. This is because you feel you have eaten too much. You will put weight on, or because you may be thinking you have done something wrong.
There may also be feelings of disgust and or disappointment because you could not stop yourself from bingeing. This starts creating a downward spiral of self-loathing, self-reproach and self-condemnation.
After the negative feelings, you enter a period where you vow to never do that again. You want to put it right. A part of this is restricting your food intake. To put the wrong right, you think if you limit your food intake and ban your favourite foods, this should stop you from bingeing again.
Only it doesn’t. Restriction keeps you stuck in this binge eating cycle because restriction takes away any freedom, fun and joy in life which can leave you feeling deprived and left out. When we are feeling low, then we are triggered easily.
Further Reading – How to escape the binge-restrict cycle
What can cause Binge Eating Disorder?
In my experience people with Binge Eating have experienced childhood issues such as;
1. Abusive parents or other caregivers. That abuse could be sexual, neglect, emotional, and/ or psychological abuse.
2. Trauma. Traumatic experiences, such as bullying, death, and abandonment.
3. Neurodiversity. If you suffer from ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or any other neuro or psychotic disorder, studies have shown you are up to 50% more likely to suffer from an eating disorder.
4. Unknown minor traumas. Over a period of time an array of experiences such as hurtful comments, slights against you, not having your emotional needs met, not being heard, not feeling loved, and love only being given conditionally, can all add up. There may be no specific event, but lots of minor events in your life over many years leave you feeling a lack of self-worth and painful feelings.
Treating Trauma and Binge Eating
Trauma can leave us with feelings of helplessness, guilt and several difficult feelings. You may experience PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder). The trouble is our unconscious does a fantastic job of hiding that trauma for us and buries the feelings that go with it. We may feel in daily life that the trauma is not affecting us, but it is. It seeps out into our behaviours, our thoughts and our feelings.
It is widely shown that trauma can lead to binge eating. The act of Binge eating can provide us with feelings of comfort, love and friendship. It might sound strange, but our brain has learnt to associate food with those feelings. Our unconscious takes over again and drives us to repeat that behaviour because it is getting what it wants.
Our unconscious will drive us so much that our behaviours around food will change, in that we could be eating in secret, hiding food and regular meals go out of the window.
Further Reading – How your childhood trauma could be causing your Binge Eating
Eating Disorders and Sexual Trauma
Sexual trauma is very distressing and deeply perplexing and complicated. As a way of coping with the trauma, it can lead us to Binge Eat, as a way again to find solace and it can help to keep suppressing the deeper feelings about the trauma that we have buried.
People with trauma will do this unconsciously and so it leaves us not knowing a reason as to why we binge eat.
The inner child
There are parts of us that are stuck in our childhood. We have memories, feelings and thoughts all stemming from our childhood. Our childhood is the foundation of who we are. When we have upsets and trauma, as discussed we don’t forget them, we just suppress them. Some things we work through and process, but others stay with us deep and buried and this affects us today and can cause us to binge eat.
Further Reading – How to heal your inner child to help you lose weight
Emotional Regulation and Eating Disorders
As a child, we cannot emotionally regulate ourselves. When you think of a young child, they scream to get heard, they will pester you until you respond, and they throw tantrums or go quiet and sulk. This is how they know to communicate. They do not know what their feelings are or how to articulate them.
If we have never been taught how to express our feelings and how to articulate them, they will stay buried. Eating is an outlet for us to put that frustration and anxiety into.
Food ends up being our self-medication, it makes us feel good in that moment and weirdly enough it is there for us.
Self-Blame, Guilt and Self-Harm
One of the responses to trauma can be to self-blame. We may not have understood what was going on for us at such a young age and we may not have been able to tell anyone. We may have tried to sell someone and we were blamed for it, or we could have been told that we did something to deserve it or we might have been told not to tell anyone and it was never talked about.
All of those behaviours lead us to feel shame and guilt. As if it was our fault. Or we deserved it in some way. It can make us feel that we are not important enough to be heard and believed.
This leads to a lack of self-worth and is damaging to our psyche.
Reparenting our inner child
To help stop your Binge Eating Disorder, you need to get to the cause of it. Once we understand the cause, this is when the healing begins. We can begin to listen and acknowledge what we went through in our childhood.
Reparenting is a process where we imagine we are our own parent to ourselves at a young age.
The reparenting process is one where you imagine yourself as a child. You develop a relationship with that child. Then you can finally let the child say what she needs to and you just listen.
You assure the child, that you are there for them and you can start to bring in the understanding and compassion that she sorely needed.
Healing the past with our inner child
We do not need to relive the past, we are helping our inner child cope and manage their feelings and thoughts from the past. It does not matter if when recalling events they are not factually correct, because we are helping the child with their perception of events. That is the child’s reality.
When we start healing the relationship with ourselves we start healing our relationship with food and this can begin our disorder recovery.
Taking Care of Your Inner Child
As you develop the relationship you have with your inner child, you discover what your child wants from you. Mainly this is love, comfort, to be heard and understood, and to have empathy and compassion.
We can start to give this to ourselves in a number of ways
1. Talking to ourselves in a positive, loving way
2. Art Therapy. Drawing, painting, colouring if you loved doing it as a child.
3. Giving ourselves unconditional positive regard
4. Bringing joy and fun into our lives
5. Reminding ourselves that we are worthy of love, comfort and joy.
The inner child work to heal your Binge Eating Disorder
The inner child work is ongoing work. It is remembering these points on a daily basis. The work becomes fulfilling and fun, it should not be a chore.
If you are doing the inner child work to heal your binge eating disorder you may notice some benefits already, which might be feeling able to express how you feel, being able to stand up for yourself. Setting boundaries, meaning you don’t allow any behaviour which does not feel good for you from others.
Even more so, you may notice not eating food for comfort anymore, feeling more at peace with food and having a more positive body image of yourself.