Proud2Bme | 6 Binge Eating Disorder Recovery Tips

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6 Binge Eating Disorder Recovery Tips

By Jen Picicci--I’ll never forget the first time I ate so much that I felt like my stomach might pop: I was at a party and there was a carrot cake on the counter that wouldn’t stop talking to me. I’d been trying so hard to eat really well and lose weight, and this cake just kept calling to me, “Eat me, Jen, just have another taste.”

I couldn’t ignore that call, so I kept going back inside for just one more piece, one more sliver, one more bite. In fact, the hostess sent me home with a couple of slices, and when I got back to my apartment I ate those too! I felt absolutely awful, and I vowed I’d never do it again.

And I kept that vow. For a couple of days, anyway.

It just kept happening over and over again. I would start eating and couldn’t stop. I felt completely out of control, like there was no possible way I could keep myself from eating. It was like I was on autopilot. I would eat way, way more than normal and I would eat really quickly, and when it was over I was always full of regret.

I simply could not figure out what was wrong with me, and I thought if I just tightened up my eating habits, removed another food from my diet or exercised more that everything would be fine.

But as the behavior continued, I began to think something serious was going on with me. I searched around online for answers, and finally one appeared: what I was going through sounded exactly like binge eating disorder (BED). I felt so relieved to know that other people struggled with the same thing (in fact, it’s the most common type of eating disorder), and to know that I could find a way out of it.

It was a long and bumpy road, but I no longer binge eat and I now have an almost entirely drama-free relationship with food (even carrot cake!). I’d love to share what I learned along the way about recovery:

1. Seek professional help. I know how hard it can be to admit you have something scary going on, but working with someone trained to help the exact thing you’re struggling with is incredibly important. The right therapist or counselor can share with you the exact tools you need to get back on track with your relationship to food. I saw two different people while I was trying to deal with BED, and it was immensely helpful.

2. Let go of restrictive diets. When I was struggling with BED, I was convinced a diet would resolve all of my issues, but in reality it was making them worse. I know now that research indicates removing a food from your diet actually causes preoccupation with that food (and food in general), and that can lead to bingeing on that food when and if you do “give in” and eat it. Relaxing my food rules made a huge difference in overcoming binge eating.

3. Look for body-positive resources. I believe part of the reason I ended up with BED was because I was overly concerned with losing weight (which caused me to restrict my food intake, become obsessed with food and get overly hungry), and I wanted to lose weight because I thought something was wrong with my body. One thing that has been very helpful in feeling better about my body has been reading body-positive blogs and giving up magazines and TV shows that made me feel unhappy with my size and shape. Today there are many great body-positive blogs, Facebook groups and Instagram feeds to follow.

4. Learn to problem solve. I learned about this concept from the book Overcoming Binge Eating by Christopher G. Fairburn. In the book, Fairburn talks about how important it is to learn to identify your problems, come up with alternative solutions for dealing with problems (besides eating), try the solutions and then check in later to see what did and didn’t work.

5. Manage your stress. You can’t solve every problem before it becomes stressful, so coming up with ways to feel the same release and escape that food can provide is essential. Deep breathing, meditating, writing in a journal, petting a dog or cat, calling a friend or even playing a video game can be greatly beneficial.

6. Find a way to move that you love. I have found that sometimes the best way for me to get out of my head (and stop worrying about my body, what I’m eating or what I’m feeling) is to go for a long walk. Try not to think about exercise as related to your weight; instead, think of it as a way to stay connected to your body, to get outside (if it’s an outdoor activity) and to get your blood moving. When you learn to love your body, you want to move it, care for it and keep it healthy.

About the blogger: Jen Picicci is a health educator and coach who teaches women how to make peace with food and their bodies. She loves nature, brownies, reading and writing, and is almost always covered in cat hair. She lives with her husband and daughter on top of a mountain outside of Asheville, North Carolina.

For more on BED, check out:

I Had No Idea: The Most Common Eating Disorder No One Talks About

Binge Eating Disorder: The Real Story

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