Struggling with binges? Today, I’d love to share a powerful practice that can help.
Binges can make you feel SO isolated. But I want you to know, you’re not alone.
I know from personal experience and working with hundreds of other women who have struggled with binge eating that there can be so much shame and secrecy around binges. Eating less is so glorified and celebrated by diet culture, making the moments where you feel like you “eat too much” feel extra tough.
I openly share about my past struggles with binge eating (like here in Letting Go of Leo) because I want you to know that you’re NOT alone and you don’t have to feel ashamed. In fact, binges are one way your body is trying to keep you safe.
Yes, it’s true! Binges are self protective in nature.
Binges are most often a response / reaction to some kind of restriction. That means that healing binge eating isn’t necessarily about the binges themselves, but about shifting from a cycle of restriction into a practice of deep self nourishment.
The most common forms of restriction that can cause binges are…
Not eating enough food overall or not eating enough of certain foods (i.e. an overall energy deficit or a deficit of something like carbs or fat).
Research shows us that the calorie recommendation for most diets is “comparable to that of the most undernourished global regions, where severe hunger interferes with individuals’ ability to thrive.” In addition to that, more than half of adults have dieted in the last year and 75% of ALL women in the US (across all racial, ethnic, and age groups) reported disordered eating behavior.
As you can imagine, physical restriction is increasingly common in a society obsessed with diets (or “lifestyles” as they are often called).
The rules or judgments you carry in your mind, often picked up from diet culture, about food. This typically sounds like “good” or “bad” foods, what / when / how you “should” or “shouldn’t” eat, and any feelings of morality that you have tied to certain foods (i.e. eating a certain way would make you a better or more worthy person). I’ve often had clients tell me they don’t restrict, only to discover a mind full of food rules that they don’t even realize they are carrying around. Just because you’re not physically restricting what you eat doesn’t mean you’re not experiencing the impact caused by food rules / judgments.
This can show up as numbing out of or attempting to distract from emotions, ignored emotional needs, and / or unmet or unexpressed cravings or desires in your life. This can be in your relationship with food but it can also be in any area of your life.
After seeing so much emotional restriction in my clients over the years, I created the idea of the “Craving Trifecta” which is: rest, connection, and pleasure. You can use the Craving Trifecta as a tool to check in with yourself in any area of your life to bring awareness to what you’re craving.
Shifting from a cycle of restriction into a practice of self nourishment takes AWARENESS. Here’s a practice to care for yourself post-binge that can help:
First, wait until you feel emotionally ready to do this. It’s ok if you’re not ready the moment directly following the binge. You can wait a few hours or even a day or two.
Second, once ready, reflect on the 24-48 hours leading up to + including the binge. Write the facts of what happened, what you experienced, any thoughts or feelings you can identify, etc.
Third, go back slowly over those 24-48 hours and write a second narrative about what you needed, desired, or craved in each moment.
This powerful practice gently invites deep awareness of self and freedom from judgment (which often arises in the guilt, shame, and secrecy of a binge) through curiosity:
What did I need?
What was I craving?
What did I desire in that moment?
Through this awareness, you can take small steps to begin to meet those needs + honor those cravings and desires: creating a practice of deep nourishment (physical, mental, emotional).
Try this practice out and see what you discover.