Whenever I attempted to lose weight in the past, I’d do well for 6-8 weeks. Then, I’d have a binge episode and spiral out of control again. This endless cycle, and the fear of it, consumed me.
Feeling like a failure, I’d walk away from my plan. I’d give up on my efforts to get healthy and I’d give up on myself.
After the birth of my first son, I finally found the internal motivation to take my health and weight loss serious.
I knew I wasn’t going to undo twenty-something years of bad eating habits and binge episodes in a few months. If I wanted to reach my goal, I needed to lessen my urge to binge.
In last week’s binge eating post, I mentioned nine tips to help prevent a binge episode. These are great tools to help you stop a binge before it starts.
But what do you do if you can’t prevent it?
To help you, I’d like to share my 5 proven ways to deal with a binge after you’ve had one:
1. Accept the binge episode. Before I’d binge (and during) I’d say to myself, “You’re having a binge episode.”
Don’t deny it. Don’t rationalize it, or make excuses. Accept your binge without judging yourself as “good or bad”. This is is harder than you’d think, but gets easier over time.
You must take ownership of what you’re doing. You’re the one binge eating. You control what you eat, not the other way around.
2. Lose the all or nothing mentality. My binges were never contained to one meal. I had the all or nothing mentality.
I figured, if I binged in the late morning, why bother “being good” for the rest of the day?
So, I binged at lunch. Then again at dinner. Sometimes I’d continue into the evening. Often to the point where I could’ve thrown up.
But after I made the commitment to change, I knew I needed to lose the “all or nothing” mentality.
So, after you binge, whatever your next meal is, get back on plan. Count your calories, or your points, or your carbs.
Over time, you’ll learn if you binge once your entire day doesn’t have to spiral out of control. What was once unmanageable will become manageable, and you’ll begin to control your urges.
3. Journal everything you eat. This is similar to the tip I gave last week. The biggest difference is, journaling all the foods you ate during a binge can be painful. It’s painful to read how much you’ve eaten in one sitting, to face the reality of what you’re doing.
But it’s about being honest with yourself. You don’t have to share your journal with anyone. I didn’t share mine.
When you write down exactly what you eat, add up the points, calories, or carbs you consume, and review what you did, you’ll realize what you’re doing to yourself.
Until you’re aware of what you’re doing when you binge, how can you accept it? How can you take control of something when you don’t know how out of control you are?
4. Stick to your weigh-ins. Even if you’ve had a binge, weigh-in every week. This was an essential part of what helped me stay on track with my weight loss. I told myself ‘d weigh-in every week, no matter what.
Let’s say you have a binge episode in the early part of the week. You’ve committed to weighing in on Saturday. Now, you’ll make sure to step up your game for the rest the week.
Although you’ve binged, if you follow your meal plan and exercise routine, your weight may balance out by week’s end. When you know you have to step on the scale, you feel accountable to yourself.
And if you’ve gained weight, you can correct what you’ve done. I had 17 weeks of weight gain due in part to binge episodes. These weeks were part of the learning process. They slowed me down, but I did hit my weight loss goal (two months early).
5. Forgive yourself. This was, by far, the hardest thing I had to learn to do. You have to let go of the anger and frustration you feel about binging.
It happened, it’s done. Now pick up the pieces and move forward. If you can do this, and not allow the negative self-talk derail you, you’ll find you’re talking to yourself like a friend.
I’d say to myself, “Heather, it’s okay. You binged. Document the episode and get back on plan. Keep moving forward because you can’t go back and change what you’ve done.”
Talk to yourself like this, even if you don’t believe the words at first.
By forgiving yourself, your self-worth and self-efficacy will grow. And the more these grow, the less you’ll feel the urge to binge. And if you do feel it, you’ll have the confidence to resist it.
Your efforts to overcome binge eating won’t happen overnight. But when you create your own rules, and follow them, you’ll find your habits change. Slowly, over time, you’ll notice the urge to binge gets less intense.
Will your urge to binge ever go away completely? I don’t know.
I still have urges from time to time. However, following my own rules allowed me to hit my goal weight and learn to have a healthier relationship with food.
So, what are the “rules” you’ve set for yourself regarding binge eating? Please share them with us in the comments!