Episode 3: The Lower and Higher Brain at Work in Binge Eating

Thank you for listening to the Brain over Binge Podcast.

In this episode, you’ll learn that there are two parts of your brain at work in binge eating and recovery.  The lower brain (also called the primitive or animal brain) produces the urges to binge, and the higher brain (also called the rational or human brain) gives you the capacity to stop acting on those urges.  You will learn how it’s possible to use your higher brain to take control back from the lower brain.

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We hope you join us again next time!

One thought on “Episode 3: The Lower and Higher Brain at Work in Binge Eating

  1. I feel like something has clicked with me – I am half way through reading your book. Like you, I explored numerous avenues to overcome by bulimia. But this feels different. At the first impression – I am very excited. Oddly my excitement coincides with the end of a day long binge-purge session and the accompanying guilt, disgust, shame etc. But I got back to reading your book which I had started the previous day. And I realised I didn’t need the feel sad and despair about my crazy behaviours… and that actually my wonderful body has just tried to do what it felt best to ensure my survival. And I have taught it time and time again that it was right. I binged all day across 4 sessions, but it felt like a new awareness was their during the binges. I knew more what I was doing. And I listened to the voice of the lower brain with all its chatter about how this won’t turn into a binge at first, and later when it had: how I will make up for it, how I deserve it, how I want it, you know the stuff…. I know now that I don’t need to feel deep shame and embarrassment. My body has learnt that this is the response that serves me well. It has learnt that the food may be taken away. It has learnt that there’s no consistency or kindness in the way my body is treated. Of course it would panic.
    My issues started as a child. I started to learn about weight loss and I tried to diet from about age 8. Being a kid I had some really cutely silly ideas (like I would wear my younger sisters shorts in bed all night as I thought they would make my thighs shrink from the tightness!), but one day I managed to restrict for long enough.. and anorexia came about by age 17-18. You can guess what happened when I “recovered” – yep – enter insane binge eating. 12 years later I have alternated between restricting, bingeing, throwing up, over exercise… bit of everything really. And I ended up kind of overweight… it’s definitely true that vomiting eventually doesn’t work. I used to think that was a lie but I want to say it here again just for anyone who needs the reminder. I am in CBT in the U.K. With an eating disorder service. I really like that they also made regular eating and the physical explanation such a massive focus, and it’s very much about understanding changes you can make to help overcome bulimia and not sitting there aimlessly going through the ups and downs of my past and present, which is what I experienced with counselling with a university centre years ago. I really related to the idea that the urges are something we can’t just distract from and ignore, and the links with mindfulness which I am keen to expand my practice of again. That’s one thing the CBT approach I have been presented does incorporate which I was surprised by: watching thoughts, not judging and letting them pass by. I thought it may be positive for people to hear that these ideas are within the treatment I am being provided. In addition I have also been given methods for dealing with stress and also for distractions… but I totally agree that no comfort or distraction ever stopped an urge, it just pushed it onto another rail track so to speak. Anyway I think my excitement has me typing a lot. I would like to return once I actually can say I have recovered and share my happy news to go with this excitement. Love you you, thank you so much for your work, and well done on finding your path to a bulimia free life xxxx

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