Ep. 99: About the Second Edition of Brain over Binge (I Am Interviewed!)

Ep. 98: The Illusion That Overeating Makes You Feel Better (with Cookie Rosenblum)

weight end binge eating

Ep 97: Non-Weight Motivations for Ending Binge Eating

Quick and Practical Advice to Help You Stop Binge Eating (Part II)

Below is more quick inspiration and practical advice about a variety of issues that may come up for you in binge eating recovery. (You can also read additional advice in Part I.)

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Changing your circumstances: Will it help recovery?

Do you make life decisions with recovery in mind?

It makes sense to consider circumstances that may help recovery be easier for you, but know that you’ll probably have binge urges regardless of the circumstance you choose (the context will just be different).

Let’s say you’re trying to decide between continuing to work from home and going back to the office. Your lower brain might use “not having to face others at work” as a reason to binge just as much as it uses “having to face others at work” as a reason to binge.

Once the habit is in place, the lower brain will produce the desire to binge in a variety of circumstances. It’s totally okay to change your circumstances if you feel it would help you, but remember that you’ll still need to do the work of dismissing urges to binge.

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Celebrate success without food

Celebrating success in recovery is an important part of the Brain over Binge approach.

When you generate excitement for your accomplishments in dismissing binge urges and eating adequately, you help new brain pathways form.

Here are some ways to celebrate success in recovery, without food:

-Go to a favorite place
-Spend the money you would have spent on bingeing on something else you want
-Relax and watch a show you enjoy
-Treat yourself to some form of self-care
-Read a favorite book or engage in a hobby
-Celebrate with positive self-talk, or simply notice and savor the good feeling of success

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Meals and schedule changes

An important thing to remember when facing any schedule change is that a perfect meal plan is not necessary to avoid binges. There may be a way of eating that you like and that works for you, and that’s great, but life often requires flexibility.

An expected or unexpected alteration to your schedule is a wonderful opportunity to learn to adjust your eating to fit your life. Life is always changing, and you can use those changes to prove to yourself that you can eat in different ways, and still give yourself enough food and still avoid binge eating.

Any thoughts that say a binge makes sense because “you didn’t get your eating schedule exactly right” are just junk. Remind yourself that as long as you are doing your best to eat adequately, you are doing great!

For more on learning to eat in a way that works for you, listen to Episode 86: Stop Thinking “I Don’t Know How to Eat” 

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Feeling too bad to eat well?

If you are sick right now, I hope you take care of yourself and start feeling better soon. I’ve received questions about what to do when you don’t feel well enough to cook, or you can’t shop for your preferred foods. How can you eat adequately in those situations?

This is when it’s important to remember that adequate eating does not mean perfect eating. It’s just about doing the best you can. Definitely try to get some nutrition so that you can heal, but also realize that having days when you don’t have much of an appetite or eat poor quality foods does not mean you are destined to binge.

Focus on the big picture when it comes to your eating and not on getting every day “right,” and this is especially true when you are dealing with illness.

For additional advice, see my 2020 post: Accept Imperfection and Avoid Binge Eating During Quarantine

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Night Urges

If you have more trouble dismissing urges in the evening hours, you are not alone. The lower brain thoughts and cravings can feel more tempting at this time, offering you a “reward” for getting through the day.

Here are some affirmations to help you overcome your nighttime urges to binge:

“The ‘reward’ I actually want is a life without binge eating”

“I want to wake up binge-free more than I want to binge”

“I’ve had enough to eat today, I am nourished”

“Everything feels more difficult at night, this feeling will be gone in the morning”

“Going to sleep and facing the next day as my authentic self (without having binged) is my true desire”

If you need personal support with night urges, know that coach Julie has some one-on-one spots available, including in the evening (depending on your time zone).

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Saying no to a binge is not restriction

You know the importance of letting go of restrictive dieting in order to end binge eating.

At some point, your lower brain might use that knowledge to produce this confusing and binge-encouraging thought: “Avoiding a binge IS a form of restriction.”

You may start thinking that if you don’t binge, you’ll be deprived and then that will fuel your survival instincts and cause future binges.

These are faulty thoughts. Not bingeing is definitely not the same as restricting yourself.  The primitive parts of your brain will cause you to feel deprived when you say no to a binge, and that is normal, but as you decondition the habit, those feelings will fade.

Remind yourself that you are nourished and giving yourself plenty enough to eat (without binge eating). If that’s not true for you right now, then that’s when you know you have some work to do to in the eating adequately part of recovery. This blog post can help you make progress in giving up restriction.

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This recovery advice is taken from weekly emails I’ve sent in the past several months. If you’d like to receive my emails going forward, all you need to do is enter your email address into this sign-up form.

When you sign up, you also get my free PDF (“The Brain over Binge Basics”) and a free course track (“Manage Your Mindset After a Binge”).
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More help:

If you want extra guidance as you learn to give up binge eating, here are some resources for additional support:

Brain over Binge Course – Self-paced online lessons (plus an app) for only $18.99/month. Includes over 125 tracks to listen to that give you the information and answers you need as you end binge eating.

Group Coaching – Get help from coach Julie and support from others who are overcoming this habit. Includes a forum that is open 24/7, group coaching calls, mindfulness resources, plus course access.

One-on-one Coaching – Book a 45-minute private session with coach Julie. She will help you change your thinking, uncover what is holding you back, and get on a path to complete freedom from food issues.

stop binge eating advice

Quick and Practical Advice to Help You Stop Binge Eating (Part 1)

Here you’ll find some quick inspiration and practical advice about a variety of issues that may come up for you in binge eating recovery.

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Overeating & snacking: Is it ok during and after recovery?

It is absolutely normal to have times when you overeat or snack too much.

Even 16 years after I quit bingeing, I still choose to do things like have seconds at dinner or snack in a way that may be more than my body needs. The difference now is that there are no binge urges before, during, or after those experiences.

Wanting seconds at dinner is just wanting seconds—there isn’t that underlying urge keep going into a binge. I either decide to have more food or not, and either way is fine. Same with snacking—I can choose to snack or not, but I no longer have any desire to stuff myself, which now seems like the opposite of pleasure.

Once you consistently dismiss urges to binge after indulging, you’ll feel in control, and the desire to follow overeating or snacking with bingeing will fade away.

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If I’ll still feel pain, why recover?

Being binge-free never means being pain-free.

Life is challenging, and when you stop bingeing, that doesn’t change. In some ways, life may feel even more difficult right after recovery. This is because your brain was used to focusing on your eating problems, and it can take some time to get used to focusing on other things, especially painful things.

Stopping the habit allows you to step into a whole new way of living, and that takes courage. It can feel both exciting (celebrate that!) and in some ways unsettling (be accepting of that); but always remember that binge eating is not the better option.

The lower brain may send thoughts like, “you still have pain in your life, so you might as well go back the pain of bingeing.” This is pure neurological junk and doesn’t speak your truth or indicate what you actually want.

If you can stay binge-free during the time when your brain is getting used to experiencing normal life, with all of its ups and downs, you can stay binge free for good!

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Are you doubting your success?

If you’re doing well, you may be surprised to feel not only pride and excitement but doubt as well.

This is especially true if you thought recovery would be very complicated. It can feel unsettling to simply stop the habit using the power of your brain, and have the rest of your life be basically the same.

After spending years thinking I needed to fix my other problems and learn to cope with emotions to recover, it felt strange to just not binge anymore. Of course, it felt amazing too, but I wondered if I was doing enough to claim a full recovery.

If you feel this way, remind yourself that some of the most powerful solutions are the most simple ones.

Also know that your brain would likely produce doubting thoughts regardless of the path you took to success, and even if your solution to binge eating had been complicated. Instead of wondering, “Is this too simple?” you’d be wondering, “What if there’s more to solve?”

Know that doubt is normal, but it doesn’t have to get in the way of your success!

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Not mindful during meals?

Not a problem!  Life is busy and challenging, and mindfulness during meals isn’t a requirement for recovery.

You may have received the idea somewhere that you “should” be present while you are eating, and chew slowly, and pay close attention to the sensations of your body.

Mindfulness can certainly be helpful, especially if you are re-learning normal eating and re-establishing your hunger and fullness cues.

But…I want you to know that if you find yourself not being mindful, you are not doing anything wrong, and you are not destined to binge!

Your lower brain might send thoughts like, “you weren’t present enough and you didn’t really enjoy your food, so now you need the ‘pleasure’ of a binge.” This is neurological junk. The reality is that sometimes you just have to eat and move on, and you simply don’t have time to sit down and savor your food.

You’ll find the level of mindfulness that you want (depending on each situation), but always remember that you can dismiss binge urges no matter what.

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Your imperfect binge-free self

You are learning to live as a person who does not binge, and never will again…but, never expect your binge-free self to be your “ideal” self.

Your binge-free self may not always be at peace with your body or relaxed around food—especially early in recovery—and that is okay. Having a perfect body image, or being an ideal weight, or being totally comfortable with your eating habits is not required for ending the destructive binge eating behavior.

Use any struggles you have to prove to yourself that you can remain binge-free despite other problems (even food and weight problems). This is a lesson you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.

Sometimes stopping binge eating feels like the more clear-cut goal. It’s an incredible accomplishment and gives you so much of your life back. However, there’s often more work to do to fully let go of the dieting mindset and negative body thoughts.

So, celebrate your success in ending binge eating, then get to work on whatever you believe will help you improve your life and be the best (imperfect) version of yourself.

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How to be consistent

“Part of courage is simple consistency” – Peggy Noonan

At a basic level, habit change is courage + consistency. The consistency part can be tricky, and you might find yourself recommitting to recovery again and again, and that can challenge your feelings of integrity.

It’s frustrating to feel like you know what to do, but you can’t get yourself to do that on a regular basis. Consistency commonly breaks down when the binge urges make false promises of pleasure, or when you give in to “one last time” thoughts, or when you feel like dismissing urges is too uncomfortable.

You can learn to handle any discomfort that comes up, and you’ll realize that the discomfort of dismissing urges is so much less than the discomfort of binge eating, and it’s so much less than the discomfort of living out of your integrity.

Remind yourself that it’s uncomfortable either way (bingeing or not bingeing), and that you are courageously choosing the productive discomfort of extinguishing a habit.

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This recovery advice is taken from weekly emails I’ve sent in the past several months. If you’d like to receive my emails going forward, all you need to do is enter your email address into this sign-up form.

When you sign up, you also get my free PDF (“The Brain over Binge Basics”) and a free course track (“Manage Your Mindset After a Binge”).
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More help:

If you want extra guidance as you learn to give up binge eating, here are some resources for additional support:

Brain over Binge Course – Self-paced online lessons (plus an app) for only $18.99/month. Includes over 125 tracks to listen to that give you the information and answers you need as you end binge eating.

Group Coaching – Get help from coach Julie and support from others who are overcoming this habit. Includes a forum that is open 24/7, group coaching calls, mindfulness resources, plus course access.

One-on-one Coaching – Book a 45-minute private session with coach Julie. She will help you change your thinking, uncover what is holding you back, and get on a path to complete freedom from food issues.

hunger anxiety

Anxiety About Hunger in Binge Eating Recovery

If you have anxiety or negative associations surrounding your hunger, or you feel like hunger is your enemy in binge eating recovery, this post will help you start developing a healthier mindset when it comes to this natural body signal.

It’s possible that you fear your hunger because you think it has sabotaged your past efforts to diet or because you feel like strong hunger always leads you to binge.  This anxiety response to hunger is something to address in recovery, as well as in your efforts to make peace with food in general.

Hunger discomfort

Hunger is a normal sensation, and reminding yourself that it’s part of the human experience will help you avoid believing there is something wrong with you when you are hungry. That does not mean you’re going to like feeling hungry. You’re not supposed to like it. Hunger is meant to be an uncomfortable sensation that motivates you to fix it by eating. Humans would not have survived for long without this uncomfortable drive.

When hunger first starts, it can be just a gentle feeling nudging you toward food, but as more time goes by, you may become irritable, you may not be able to think about anything else besides food, you may get frustrated if you can’t get food right away, and you may have a lot of unpleasant sensations in your body.

It’s not realistic to expect yourself to have all of those feelings and sensations—which are meant to strongly motivate you toward food—and feel completely calm about it. Making peace with your hunger simply means that you’ll learn to experience the discomfort without causing it to be worse with a lot of fear, anxiety, and self-judgement.

Recall your pre-eating-disorder experience of hunger

You can likely remember times when you’ve experienced hunger without the anxiety and self-criticism, especially if you think back to before you began restricting or binge eating. Maybe think about when you were a child in school, and you were hungry while sitting in class waiting for lunchtime. I’m sure you did not like that feeling of hunger, and I’m sure you did not feel perfectly peaceful in those moments. Your empty and growling stomach probably distracted you from the work you needed to be doing, and you probably looked at the clock wishing time would pass. I’m sure you that you were excited about eating when the time finally came and that it felt so good to satisfy your hunger.

Through all of this, you didn’t judge yourself for what you were experiencing. You didn’t fear your hunger, and you didn’t criticize yourself for wanting food or enjoying it when it was time to eat. You weren’t sitting in class as a child thinking, I shouldn’t be hungry … I have no willpower … I’ll never be able to control myself when I start eating … I’m scared that I’m going to overdo it and gain weight … why can’t I just stop thinking about food so much.

Before your eating disorder, hunger was a lot more of a pure experience—meaning you just experienced it without judging yourself for it. You just knew that you were hungry and that you wanted food—without thinking you were broken in some way for having these natural body signals and desires for food.

Anxiety about hunger often stems from restriction

Anxiety and negative associations with hunger often develop as a result of dieting. When you are trying to eat less than you need, your hunger can start to feel like your enemy. When you know you’re only “allowed” a certain amount of food (according to your diet), but your hunger tells you that you should eat more than that, you feel like you need to suppress your hunger and ignore it. You may get angry with your hunger and wish it away and think it’s the reason you can’t stick to a diet.

Because our bodies are wired to protect us from starvation, your hunger likely got stronger during your diet. Understandably, you eventually followed your hunger and broke your diet, and because you thought it meant you were “weak,” you then engaged in a lot of self-critical thoughts. This may have repeated countless times for you.

If you started bingeing in response to your strong hunger, then that adds another layer of negative feelings, self-judgement, and anxiety. You start to fear your hunger because you fear that it will lead you to binge. It makes sense that you are afraid to binge, because binge eating is a harmful and painful behavior that you truly don’t want to engage in. In turn, it also makes sense that you would come to fear anything you think causes that behavior.

Hunger is not the problem

I hope that now you better understand how hunger goes from being a pure experience (not a comfortable one) to something that brings up a lot of anxiety. When it comes to making peace with your hunger, an important starting point is realizing that the sensations of hunger are not the problem. The problem is the negative thoughts and feelings you’ve inadvertently connected to hunger over time.

You can start to separate the sensations of hunger from those negative thoughts and feelings, and you can start to dismiss those negative thoughts and feelings—including anxiety and self-judgement. You can start gravitating back toward experiencing hunger as you did before developing this struggle with food.

Decondition the [hunger = binge] pattern

As it relates to getting rid of the fear that you’ll binge in response to hunger, this just takes time and consistency. As you learn to experience urges to binge without acting on them, you’ll get more confident that nothing will lead you to binge, not even strong hunger. Then, the anxiety around hunger can naturally subside.

For this to happen, it’s going to take many times of being hungry and then satisfying that hunger without going on to binge. Once you’re confident that you can eat adequately in response to hunger, and that it won’t spiral out of control, then hunger is no longer going to feel like a threat.

Making sure that you’re eating enough overall and giving up restriction is definitely going to make hunger feel less fear-inducing, because you’re no longer going to be trying to suppress the hunger, or deny it, or view it as the enemy. As you let go of dieting, and as you learn to nourish your body, you will start viewing hunger simply as a signal that it’s time to eat. You can even learn to welcome this signal as your body’s amazing way of communicating your needs.

Heightened hunger signals will fade

One thing to know (if you’ve engaged in restrictive dieting) is that your hunger may be stronger right now than it would otherwise be if you had never restricted. When we diet, our body turns up the hormones and neurochemicals that drive hunger and turns down the ones that lead to fullness. This only makes sense from a survival standpoint.

Once you start eating enough, this heightened hunger can take some time to regulate. So, if your hunger feels more uncomfortable than you think it should, know that this is something that corrects itself over time—as you get further and further away from restriction.

Binge eating also has the effect of increasing your hunger because your body and brain simply come to expect and demand large amounts of food. But as you recover, you allow your digestive system to heal and your appetite to go back to normal. If you have any concerns about abnormal hunger during recovery, you should absolutely get the medical and nutritional help you need, but the solution is never to binge.

Over time, you’ll learn that hunger—although not a pleasant sensation—doesn’t have to create anxiety. You can learn to make peace with many different levels of hunger, and never fear that it’s going to lead you to binge.


More help:

If you want extra guidance as you learn to give up dieting and binge eating, and make peace with your hunger, here are some resources for additional support:

Brain over Binge Course – Self-paced online lessons (plus an app) for only $18.99/month. Includes over 125 tracks to listen to that give you the information and answers you need as you end binge eating.

Group Coaching – Get help from coach Julie and support from others who are overcoming this habit. Includes a forum that is open 24/7, group coaching calls, mindfulness resources, plus course access.

One-on-one Coaching – Book a 45-minute private session with coach Julie. She will help you change your thinking, uncover what is holding you back, and get on a path to complete freedom from food issues.