Dear Tory: Binge Eating.
Self-Control... willpower... I know I own it - I've proven several times how strong I can be when resisting temptation... Having lost 30 lbs and then again 55 lbs I know I can do it (and I did have a reasonable amount of healthy chocolate both times when losing weight)... Then other times - it's like I don't even know the definition of willpower - and I go through a huge load of chocolate or other crap. Part of my says - well - we'll just take care of the problem by EATING IT ALL NOW!!! if it's not here - then it can't tempt me... One trick I know is to not have it in the house... Or not order it in a restaurant... but I should be able to own a treat and not devour it senselessly... I try to be aware of what I'm feeling/thinking when I binge like that... but in the end - it doesn't stop me from stuffing my mouth... Please help! Thanks!
Hi Chocolate Lovah,
I've rewritten this response a couple times. As someone who has struggled with binging (and purging! And restricting, shaming, mental-game playing...) I know there are so many layers to why we eat the way we do.
Instead of giving you suggestions in the vein of dieting, I'm going to assume you're ready to swim in the deep end of the pool. Until you get to the source, identify it, get cozy with it then ambush it with lots of gentle love and attention, nothing is going to change. As with all *real* transformation, this takes guts, patience, honesty and LOVE. Loads and loads of love.
Before you start anything-- figure out: what's at stake? Why do you care about losing weight? Spend some time really getting specific with this.
Do you want to be healthy for your family?
Do you want to be healthy do you'll be alive to meet your grandchildren?
Do you want to attract a partner?
Do you want to feel more confident?
Do you feel sluggish and want more energy?
Whatever your reasons, you'll have many, get specific.
Now with each specific reason (you wrote these down, right?)-- up the stakes. Imagine the absolute worse that will happen if you do not get control of your eating... all the way until you're emotionally wrecked by it. Take notes, close your eyes, allow this to really take hold of your emotions so it can motivate you to stay true to your needs moving forward.
Now with each reason, do the opposite. Imagine what you'd look like, feel like, be able to accomplish if you were your healthiest, most confident self. Build it to feel as real as possible, feel it and believe it in every cell.
Side note, your whole life is an ecosystem. Every aspect of you-- relationships, physical nourishment, mental and emotional health, fulfillment level, career-- they are all interconnected and influenced by one another. For a relevant example, if you're not taking care of yourself physically your self-esteem is going to suffer, influencing your relationships, career, level of fulfillment, the confidence to workout, etc. Be sure to look at the full picture when defining your reasons why.
OK. Now back to the love.
Every thought and action we make starts with a choice-- a choice to think and act out of love, or to think and act out of fear. Love is support, understanding, patience. Fear is judgment, hatred, criticism.
I'm going to guess your binging on chocolate isn't motivated by an immense love for chocolate-- but rather a fear of sweets not being available to you someday. Or in attempts to 'feed' a discomfort you're experiencing. Or even because this 'problem' has been your comfort so long and you're afraid of what it would feel like to NOT have a binging distraction-- because then you'd have to show up fully in your life.
You've got to reconnect with you. You need to slow down, identify why overcoming this is important to you-- then be brave enough to slooooowwwww dowwwnnnn, face life moment to moment, and have honest conversations with yourself.
Do you have a regular meditation practice? I use this analogy often, but life without meditation is like trying to read a book right up against your nose. You're too close to the information, it's overwhelming, you can't see the big picture. Being completely engulfed in our own issues is the same thing-- and many times we make choices out of fear just to escape the discomfort as quickly as possible. Meditation helps us cultivate space and patience-- so when we have to make choices we can step back, evaluate gently and move forward in love.
Keep love at the forefront of all of your actions and your desires to diet, purge, hate, hide, restrict will recede. Acknowledge how closely intertwined your emotions are to food-- be mindful of it by being brave enough to take a genuine peak-- and then call yourself out on it. For example, when I'm anxious, suddenly I am trying to stuff food down my throat to soothe my nervous stomach. Now that I am aware, I have to be brave enough to say, 'Ok, I see what's happening here. How about I just work through this anxiety, instead of further fueling it with food that's going to make me feel even more like crap.'
It's so natural to need a physical way to cope with vague (but consuming!) emotional pain. The real learning and evolution begins when we actually sit with our emotions and feel them, so they can work through us.. and leave! Even if it means crying, screaming, being in a cruddy mood for days. Think of emotions like waves-- if they can can build then crash forward, the wave dissipates. If they build, then hit a wall, the power is sent backwards again (back into you).
The great news is everything you need to make this happen already lies within you. Step up to the plate and be the hero of your own story, Sistah.
PS. Cleansing and detoxing may be of help in this situation. Processed foods are emotionally rewarding (we even release serotonin when eating them, which makes us think we feel happy!) and we get addicted to it. The more you eat, the more you want. Focus on whole foods in organic, nutritious meals. Eat as much as you want! No starving! It'll be difficult for a couple weeks and then your taste buds, stomach and emotional response will reset and you'll feel clearer and stronger.