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