Are you facing a situation where you can’t seem to stop thinking about food, wanting it and eating it? I’ll bet when that happens, you probably feel like a horrible failure every time the number on the scale goes up. Don’t you? I know how that feels.
Back in the days when I was a weight watcher, each and every time my eating would spin out of control, not only would my clothes get tighter, but I felt deeply shameful and thought of myself as a failure. I used to feel so enslaved by my cravings that I thought about food, night and day. Nothing could make me feel better than food could, so I would always end up binging.
Now since I’ve stopped dieting and trying to control everything I eat, I rarely think about food when I’m not hungry. As a result the duration, intensity and frequency of my binges is radically reduced. But there are those times when I do fall back into old emotional eating habits and I binge.
Now I recognize that my binges are gifts in disguise. It’s my body’s way of telling me that a part of me feels that I can’t handle whatever situation I’m facing. Now I realize that by becoming aware of when they happen, and what events trigger them, I can find more resourceful ways of handling those challenges. I have learned to take what I like to call a no shame/no blame approach to explore the cause of each binge.
Over the past year I have been steadily moving into a level of greater health in my life. I discovered that when I overeat gluten, it creates inflammation in my body which for me, results in pain in my joints and an itchy patch of eczema on my eyelid and over my right eyebrow, making it very uncomfortable and impossible to wear contact lenses or makeup.
Not wanting to endure the pain and discomfort, made it easier for me to eat gluten free. My pain and eczema disappeared. I was on a roll, enjoying going to the gym several times a week, I was feeling great. Despite all the rocky changes going on, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my health, so I kept eating in the way that had become a new habit. For the most part, I ate lighter gluten free meals, and when I overate, I forgave myself and treated myself lovingly. Taking that gentle approach, I noticed that I bounced back easily and quickly with renewed passion for self-care. Without depriving myself at all, I was loving my body to better health.
One day, while lying down, I touched my stomach and became aware of a flattening of my belly that I hadn’t felt since becoming pregnant with my daughter, 20 years earlier. I could tell I was thinner than I had been in years. My curiosity got the better of me and I stepped on my bathroom scale. I was shocked to see the number 206. That meant that I had dropped 28 pounds in nearly a year. I could feel a cold shiver run down my spine.
Facing my own resistance
In what seemed like one long movement, I got off the scale, put it away, washed my hands and walked directly to the kitchen refrigerator and started eating whatever I could find. Over the next several days and weeks, food had suddenly became important again and more and more gluten was creeping its way into my stomach. Oreos, cake, breads, pasta, rice, all my old favorites were calling me again. I understood that there was a connection to my overeating that meant I was afraid to keep losing weight. I made a conscious choice to slow down and began to eat a lot of the comfort foods that I had stopped eating.
A painful experience a few weeks later led to a binge of astronomic proportions for me. Over a day I ate an entire 1/2 gallon of Black Raspberry ice cream. I was mortified, but vowed to stand by myself and be self-compassionate and treat myself tenderly enough so that I could nurse myself through my vulnerability. The itching and pain began to flare up again.
After that next day of treating myself with the most TLC I could, I found that I no longer was craving the junk and comfort foods. The next several weeks I found myself craving lighter foods again, yearning to move my body and be more active. I could tell my body was getting smaller, because all my clothes were getting looser again. Then the cycle happened again, and again.
As I take a moment to get honest with myself, I realize that I still have an unconscious barrier to going below 203 pounds. I know exactly where it comes from and I know what to do to shift the energy, but I haven’t yet been ready so I’m in an eating more phase again. I’m okay with that. My only goal is to be as compassionate and loving with myself as I can be, because I know that is the way for me to move back into feeling worthy of being strong and healthy.
4 Developmental Steps to Overcome Binging
After years of struggling with a problem with binge eating, author and psychologist, Gloria Arenson, Ph.D, overcame her food challenges. She went on to teach her system and share her insights with others as the founder and former director of The Eating Disorders Treatment Center of Los Angeles. With a chosen specialty of treatment of bulimia and compulsive overeating, she spent 20 years working with patients helping them to overcome their eating addictions.
In her book, “A Substance Called Food: How to Understand, Control and Recover from Addictive Eating”, Dr. Arenson talks about unresolved emotions and how they affect binging saying,
“when you discount your own feelings, you are burying them alive. They will come back to haunt you in the form of a binge.”
She describes the process of overcoming binging as having four distinct developmental steps.
They are as follows:
1. After the binge you become aware of what triggered it.
2. In the midst of the binge, you become aware of why you’re eating, but choose to eat the food anyway.
3. Before you reach for the food, you are aware of why you are eating, but you go ahead and binge.
4. Before you reach for the food, you become aware of why you are eating, and you handle the problem without binging.
As Dr. Arenson suggests, I’ve learned that the biggest goal is to be more conscious and aware and spend more time being present. Awareness is the first step to overcoming any habit. In the course of overcoming binging, it’s natural to jump between the stages, and setbacks are reframed as learning experiences.
As a stress relief expert myself, I make coping with my anxiety my first priority. It has helped me to melt away old resistance and to release old resentments and habits that no longer serve me. My goal is not to lose weight but to treat my body lovingly with respect and kindness.
As I tell my clients and heed my own advice, permanent change requires a climate of love and understanding and not self-hatred and resentment.
How ‘bout you? Has your head gotten caught in the cookie jar? Can’t seem to stop eating? Don’t beat up on yourself. I urge you to be gentle and look beyond the food. By checking in with your emotions, you can always source back to what triggered the binge. Becoming aware is the first step.
Dr. Arenson has graciously agreed to let me interview her in a Google+ Hangout in the near future. To get all the latest info on my Google+ Hangouts and more, body lovin’ binge bustin’ tips, I want to invite you to join my new FB group: 30 Days to Lovin’ the Skin You’re In. There along with the other women in the group, I’ll teach you that your body is not the problem. Hating yourself is. Click on the image invitation below to learn more and join the group.
emotional eating, binging, fat, food addict, dysfunctional eating, weight, scale, shame, food obsession, plateau, Andrea Amador, Lovin’ the Skin You’re In, coaching, Emotional Freedom Technique, EFT, tapping, self-confidence,
Has your head gotten caught in the cookie jar? Can’t seem to stop eating? Don’t beat up on yourself. I urge you to be gentle and look beyond the food. By checking in with your emotions, you can always source back to what triggered the binge. Becoming aware is the first step. Read on to discover the 4 developmental stages to overcoming bingeing.