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Reflections on reducing binges

Saturday, September 12, 2015

After my last blog I was asked how I had managed to diminish my binges. Also what I thought caused my binges and whether I binged before joining SP.

Reducing the frequency of my binges and the amount consumed each time has involved a few approaches. One was something I called my Unlimited Fruit Policy. It could be argued that I was giving myself permission to binge on fruit but for one thing, if you have permission then that eliminates the mental tug-of-war that precedes a binge (mine anyway) and for another thing, it's FRUIT. Yes it contains (natural) sugars but it also contains fiber, phytochemicals and other goodness. If I found myself silently calculating how many cookies or chocolates I could get my hands on, preferably undetected, I would go for a banana or two instead. Or whatever fruit sounded good. It helps that I like fruit a lot. Fruit is much more filling than chocolate and I do find it somewhat calming. It's not numbing the way a flat-out binge on junk food is, but it is soothing for me.

Another tactic, and I'm sure you've heard this before, has been to observe my emotional state before/during/after binges. I shouldn't have been, but I was surprised to realize how much anger played a role in my binges. Sometimes I was angry before my binges and felt justified in giving myself something to feel better (so it was a trigger). Other times it was like my goal was to become angry with myself, it was the end-game. The anger would come during or near the end of the binge. The hateful internal dialogue was abusive.

Anxiety plays a role too. I am working on handling both anger and anxiety in more constructive ways, such as meditation. I'm still a bit of a newbie with meditation, but you just have to start where you are and do what you can. Right?

I work on deep breathing and focus sometimes on the physiological stuff of breathing. Taking in oxygen, releasing carbon dioxide. Other times I focus on things like forgiveness, kindness, acceptance and love. It just depends on where I'm at.

Another important factor in reducing my binges has been the acceptance and willingness to keep getting back on the path. If I take a wrong turn like eating something I might be better off not eating or hiding what I'm eating I have to keep coming back to the path of healthy eating. Over and over again. If I find myself lost in the woods of anger, self-doubt, and bad choices, I have to find north again, get back on the path and keep moving. Over and over again. Until that path, that direction of healthy eating and self-care is my main path.

As to whether I binged before joining SparkPeople - I did but it hadn't been habitual or so frequent. I began sneaking food as a young child. At that time I was not sneaking a large amount of food, but I think that secretive act definitely led to me sneaking larger amounts of food in later years. The frequency of my binges peaked as I neared the end of the weight loss part of my journey and faced transitioning into maintenance. The shameful feelings about binge-eating may have been intensified by the fact that I was tracking my food so rigorously.

Another thing I'd like to talk a little about is the nutrition class I took over the summer. I had been educating myself about food for quite a while prior to the class. I definitely learned new things, but I went in with a good understanding of macro nutrients and calories and a personal focus on balanced nutrition. What I really found remarkable in class was what the body does with what we put in it. Your body literally rebuilds itself with the very things you put in your mouth. Your muscle tissue, skin, bones, hair, all of it come from the food you eat. Your body does some amazing things, breaking down those foods and turning them into hormones, that in turn regulate your blood sugar and fat storage. Your ability to fight disease can be greatly impacted by the food you eat. I became quite emotional reading a chapter named The Amazing Body (or something like that). Our bodies are pretty resilient, especially when we are young. We put whatever random crap we want to in them and assume everything will be fine. But it matters. What we choose to nourish ourselves with really matters.

Now, I'm not saying that I have made nothing but perfect choices since taking that class. Not by a long shot. But I do have a deep new respect for what my body can do. And I want to keep it going.

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD15145828

    How did I ever miss this? Spark is doing weird things by not sending blogs anymore!

    I LOVE the idea of endless fruit. SO SMART. Because no matter how many cups of grapes I eat, in no way will they compare to that amount of cookies.

    I so hear you about that secret binge eating as a kid. I was a teen when I first started and the moment my Dad would go to sleep...about 10om, I would eat all of the candy bars from under my bed. I told him! (not)
    2126 days ago
    Wow, this is very interesting. I can relate to anger triggering a binge. Just the other day I ended up at Trader Joe's, filling up my cart with junk because a relative of mine really bugged the heck out of me yet again. Chips, crackers, cheese, ice cream and peanut butter cups. Yeah, I really showed her. Sigh.

    Thanks for showing a more constructive path to dealing with these emotions. I just need to think of this path instead of the one that leads to the fridge.

    It's not always easy sharing the details of the journey, so I appreciate your honesty.


    2145 days ago
    I have started having binges/food sneaking around ovulation. It has got to be hormonal because nothing triggers it, and it's always the same time of the month, it's always at night and it always lasts no more than 3 days. It sucks. I don't really feel anything except out of control. I'm not upset before or after. There seems to be no reason for it except monthly hormones. Boo. Thank you so much for sharing this!
    2145 days ago
  • MSHEL7
    This is great information. Thank you for posting it. Did you take an online course or go to a class in your area? I've really been thinking a lot on doing something like that myself. I've looked into online classes, but I'm not sure what to take. Thanks again, this was very informational.
    2145 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    Thank you so much for elaborating!
    Very interesting to me. I happen to love fruit, as well!
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    And I like the idea of the breathing. I have tried it but should do it much more often. You just inspired me!

    I am thinking that especially this part: "Another important factor in reducing my binges has been the acceptance and willingness to keep getting back on the path" must be crucial.
    You know I have for the most part of my life (that has been filled with weight issues since childhood) felt that there WAS no path! And that IF there was one, I wouldn't be able to ever find it. What you said implies that you have a healthy sense of 'there is a path and healthy living can be done'. I think that will make a world of difference.

    2146 days ago
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