Binge eating is something that most people are ashamed of and is the behavior that the majority of my clients want to stop or prevent. They'll say, "I'm so tired of bingeing, why can't I just stop?" Or those who have never binged might say, "I'm afraid that if I eat [insert whatever food they're afraid of] I will lose control and binge."
What if we looked at a binge as a gift rather than a burden?…
-The binge (or urge to binge) is a clue to your needs. It signals you to pay attention.
-The food legitimately makes you feel better in the moment by giving you a surge of serotonin and dopamine — feel-good chemicals in your brain.
-Bingeing might be a distraction from other things you'd rather avoid feeling, thinking or doing. Sometimes we all need a break or a distraction.
-If you are bingeing to stuff down your emotions, the binge lets you know that you are feeling something that scares you or makes you uncomfortable. Be curious about what the feeling is.
-Bingeing is an opportunity to practice self-compassion. People with eating disorders are notorious for being incredibly hard on themselves. However, research is showing that those who offer themselves compassion recover faster from the ED.
-It offers a nugget of wisdom if you take the time to unpack what happened. What led up to the binge? What were you thinking and feeling at the time? What would you have been thinking and feeling if you weren't bingeing? Where were you when the urge to binge presented itself? What time of day was it? What else had you eaten that day? Were you hungry? What type of food was it? Does that food have any other meaning or significance in your life? These questions offer invaluable data to help you understand the function of the binge.
Rather than looking at a binge as an entirely negative experience and a source of great shame, consider looking at it as a gift. After all, eating disorders aren't about food – they are about the underlying emotions. It is ok to regret bingeing and wish it hadn't happened because it doesn't feel good, but ditch the guilt and give yourself compassion when it happens. Learn what you can from it and move on. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be compassionate toward yourself.