Drop the "Shoulds" Around Eating

Ep. 85: Drop the “Shoulds” Around Eating

life after binge eating recovery part II

Ep. 84: Recovery From Binge Eating Means Regaining Your LIFE! (Part II)

commitment binge eating recovery

Making Commitments Last in Binge Eating Recovery

When I was a binge eater, I seemed to have endless Day 1’s. What I mean by this is—telling myself it was Day 1 of my binge-free life, because I had resolved to never binge again. I had too many of these new starts to count.

New starts were sometimes spontaneous, for example, when I would wake up feeling awful after a binge and declare it was Day 1, and that I’d never do that to myself again. But more commonly, I planned my Day 1 in advance and lined it up with an occasion like my birthday, New Year’s, or even just with the start of a new week or month. I often picked a Day 1 that coincided with my next therapy appointment, or when I was going to start a new meal plan, or a new strategy in recovery. If I had an important event coming up—like a friend’s wedding—when I wanted to be at my best, I’d sometimes set my Day 1 to be a certain number of days or weeks in advance of that event.

Leading up my self-declared Day 1, I would often do things like buy a new journal, or make a new chart to track all the binge-free days I knew I was going to have, or come up with a new reward system for myself for when I was successful, or create elaborate plans for my upcoming binge-free days—thinking that if I somehow blocked out every minute with something to do, then I would not binge. In addition to any planning I did for Day 1, I always did a lot of bingeing as well. I would usually binge all the way until the “official” start date and time that I had set for myself.

My new plans and new commitments had good intentions, but they typically did not last very long. Until I finally recovered for good, I rarely got to day 3 or day 4 without a binge, regardless of the plan I implemented. So it seemed like I was always either bingeing or starting over on Day 1 with a new plan—that led right back to bingeing. Each time, I really thought that setting the new commitment would help, but I stayed stuck in this frustrating cycle.

When I was caught up in this, I couldn’t really see what was happening. I seemed to automatically go into planning a new Day 1 or making a new resolution, without stopping to think about why the last one hadn’t worked. I don’t think I ever really slowed down to observe what I was doing, and how my thoughts and actions were getting in the way of my progress.

Knowing what I know now, I want to help you feel better prepared to make a commitment to binge eating recovery, so in this post, I want to give you some advice on making commitments last.

Avoid Thinking of “Day 1” in a Literal Way—You are Not Starting Over in Binge Eating Recovery

It’s understandable that you want to make a commitment to stop binge eating, and it’s great that you want to be free of this habit that’s causing you so much pain. But, if you’ve been trying to recover for any amount of time, you’re never truly starting over at Day 1. I suggest that you stop thinking of recovery attempts as brand new starts. You can even stop using the term Day 1 altogether.

You already have knowledge and experience that you can use to your advantage as you fully end the binge eating habit, and thinking you have to go all the way back to the starting line makes recovery seem daunting. Imagine recovery to be like running a race with hurdles—the runners don’t go back to the starting line every time they trip over a hurdle. They simply get up and keep running—committed to jumping the next hurdle, and the next, until they finish the race. They begin again from the place where they fall, and they can still complete the race successfully.

You’ve already made progress in recovery, even if you are struggling right now, so look at your commitment as a continuation, rather than a new beginning. You are committed to finishing the race, to doing your absolute best from this day forward, even if you trip over other hurdles along the way. With this mentality, you will arrive at where you want to be, so try thinking of new commitments in terms of renewed focus, not in terms of going backward and starting at Day 1 again.

Even With a New Commitment to Stop Binge Eating, You Will Still Have the Same Brain

The next piece of advice I’ll give you is to know that your new commitment doesn’t undo the binge eating habit in your brain. You may think that your new commitment or new plan will usher in a new you who does not want to binge, or at least does not want to binge much at all. The reality is that the you that shows up to refocus on recovery has fundamentally the same brain pathways and the same physiology that you did the day before your new commitment. Once you repeat the behavior of binge eating many times, it becomes habitual—wired into your primitive brain centers. Furthermore, the large quantities of food that you’re consuming affect your physiology, digestion, hunger signals, and cravings; and recommitting to recovery does not automatically give you a new body and a new brain.

As you refocus on recovery, and stay committed, your brain and body will gradually change as you decondition the habit. Your brain and body will get the message that you’re no longer binge-eating, and they will adapt accordingly. The problem that I made and that a lot people make is thinking that there will be little to no temptation if they are firmly committed to recovery. This is not the case, because your brain is not yet wired as someone who does not binge.

It is true that you don’t want to binge anymore. You, in your higher brain—the part of your brain responsible for your goals and plans and rational thinking—absolutely does desire recovery. But it’s also important to understand that your lower brain is still conditioned to react as if the habit is absolutely necessary, and it will still send urges for the behavior.

When I didn’t understand my lower and higher brain, it was so frustrating that—despite my shiny new chart to keep track of my success, despite my beautiful new recovery journal, or meal plan, or therapist—I still felt driven to binge. Because I didn’t realize that desire for the habit is a normal part of habit change, I lost focus and I lost my commitment when I had that desire. When I started feeling those binge urges on Day 2, 3, or 4 of my fresh new start, I assumed it was because I truly did want to binge after all.

This made me so angry with myself to want two completely different things—complete freedom and non-stop binge eating—in just a matter or days, or even hours. When the urges to binge got strong, I gave in; and in those moments, it was as if I concluded that binge eating was what I really wanted, and that the new commitment I’d made wasn’t actually me.

But after the binge, I always wished I could erase it. I wished I could go back to being that “new commitment” me. So yet again, I created a new plan and I said that this time I would keep my promise. I’m telling you this so you will understand that a new or renewed commitment does not make your urges to binge go away. Having urges to binge even when you are committed to recovery is totally normal, and does not mean anything is wrong with you. It means your brain is operating as it should.

When you make a commitment to recovery, it then becomes your job to begin to rewire your brain, using whatever support and whatever approach helps you. The day you decide to focus on recovery is the day you will begin to chip away at this habit in your brain. The commitment may help give your higher brain some strength and motivation, but you will still feel a pull toward the harmful behaviors at times, and it’s important that you don’t let this surprise you. You can allow those tempting feelings to pass, while keeping your commitment to remain binge free, and those urges will fade in time.

A “Last Binge” Will Only Make New Commitments More Difficult

I’ve talked and written about the “one last binge” mentality before, and I encourage you to check out this blog post and podcast episode for more on this topic; but there can be another layer to this mentality as well—which relates to making new commitments. What can happen is…in the days before you know you want to really commit to recovery, you can have thoughts that say having “one last binge” will actually help you when it’s time for your commitment to begin. You may believe these thoughts for two reasons:

First, you may think that having a last binge or a last string of binges before a new commitment will finally make you feel satisfied. You may believe that you’ll finally feel like you’ve had enough, and then you’ll be totally ready to give up the habit.

Looking at it from a brain-based perspective, this belief does not make logical sense. Each time you try to have a “last binge” to fully satisfy the habitual desire, you only strengthen that desire and the neural pathways and physiological processes that fuel it.  You teach your lower brain that you need to binge even more—you do not teach it that you are ready to quit. This sets you up to have a more difficult time when the day of your commitment arrives.

Due to your “last binge” or “last binges” (in an attempt to silence the urges once and for all), you’ve created stronger urges, and also stretched your stomach and affected your digestion so that cravings are worse, and it’s harder to eat normally. Going into a recovery attempt while dealing with the acute after-affects of binge eating makes everything much more challenging. You can definitely overcome these challenges, but you’ll make it easier on yourself if you don’t have these big, “last” binges.

The second reason you may believe you need to have one last binge, or several last binges, before you refocus on recovery is because you think the binges will make you feel so badly afterward that you will never want to do it again. You know the pain that comes after binges, and you may think that the pain will deter you from ever wanting to binge again—which will make your new commitment last. But, this is also working against you—again because of how the brain works:

When the lower brain is conditioned to binge, or to have any other destructive habit, you’ll still have a desire for it regardless of the pain that it causes. When you are feeling driven to binge, you don’t usually remember the pain of past binges. As much as you can try to remind yourself of the pain, it doesn’t convince the lower brain. Binge eating in advance of a new attempt to quit will not somehow make the lower brain remember the consequences of binge eating.

Any thoughts that say “one last binge” will benefit you and your commitment are faulty, lower-brain thoughts that you can learn to dismiss. The sooner you can start dismissing these thoughts, and any other thoughts that encourage binge eating, the better position you’ll be in to break this habit for good.

I hope the ideas I’ve shared here will help you make a new commitment and make it last!

If you want help becoming and staying binge-free, you can get my course (only $18.99 per month), and also get personalized support and accountability with one-on-one coaching or group coaching.

life after binge eating recovery

Ep. 83: Recovery From Binge Eating Means Regaining Your LIFE! (Part I)

binge eating one-on-one coaching

Customized Support and Accountability: One-on-One Coaching

Do you want to take back your life from binge eating, but continue to feel trapped?

Do you have temporary success and then find yourself back to old habits?

Do you have trouble following through with what you know you need to do to recover?

Do you resonate with the Brain over Binge approach, but feel confused about how to make it work for you?

Do you wonder what is holding you back from letting go of binge eating completely?

If any of these questions apply to you, or if you feel like you’re having trouble even getting started in recovery, then I want you to consider that personalized coaching can help you get on a path to a binge-free life. I believe anyone is capable of overcoming binge eating, but sometimes the additional insight and inspiration that a coach brings is fundamental to helping you create the change you want.

Imagine having someone there to guide you as you uncover what is keeping you stuck in harmful patterns. Imagine having someone who will hold you accountable for your commitments. If you are a course member, imagine how powerful it would be to have someone supporting you as you learn and apply the material in a way that fits your life.

I’m very grateful that my amazing colleague, friend, and former course member—who is now completely free of her struggle with food—is able to offer one-on-one coaching to binge eaters.

I want to introduce you to the new Brain over Binge coach—Julie!

Julie overcame bingeing and other harmful eating behaviors after a nearly 40-year battle. She has a deep understanding of the brain-based principles that I share here, as well as thorough and practical knowledge of mindfulness. Julie can give you support in any area where you need help, whether that’s in learning to dismiss urges, eat adequately, or deal with related issues you are facing.

Julie has been where you are, and her warmth, compassion, and coaching style will comfort you, but also motivate you to finally let go of binge eating.

I’ll let Julie tell you about herself in her own words, as well as explain her process and pricing:

I went through my own journey with Kathryn which began in 2014 when I reached out to her after reading Brain over Binge as my husband died. Her program helped me recover from binge eating after struggling with it for almost 40 years. I have truly been there and I assure you, if I can be free and fully recovered from binge eating, anyone can!

I’ll be happy to help you on your path to FULLY recovering from binge eating, trusting yourself in ALL kinds of eating situations, and help you as you gain back precious time, mental space, energy and peace—to put back into your LIFE!

I absolutely love one-one-one coaching, because I get to see the amazing transformations that occur when people invest in themselves and show up to do the work in their sessions. I will give you customized strategies based on what you uniquely need to keep moving toward a binge-free life. My role is to provide accountability, and help you create the changes you want in a peaceful and sustainable way.

The most incredible part of my job is seeing clients regaining their life after binge eating. They are finally open to new possibilities, and no longer wasting time, energy, and money on the struggle with food. They have their brains back—so they can pursue career goals, deepen relationships and create new ones, focus on important financial goals, and finally just be present and enjoy the moment.

I’d love to work with you in a 45-minute session (Zoom call). During this time, I can help you explore any part of the Brain over Binge strategies where you might be feeling stuck. After any call you have with me, I share my notes with you so that you can remember and apply the most important points. You will also get a recording of our call so that you can refer back to it anytime you need. Additionally, I provide daily email support for clients who work with me on an ongoing basis; and if you only have one call, I’m happy to provide a few follow-up emails to make sure you are on track.

Prior to our session, I will get to know you and your unique struggles through a detailed intake form. I prepare extensively for each call—making sure I understand what is going on for you, and how I can best help.

The investment for a 45-minute call (plus call notes), and one follow-up email is $180.

You can book a spot on my calendar to get started.

I’d love to help you get on a path to being free of binge eating forever!


Client testimonials

“I have known and worked with Julie for about a year now and her empathy and kindness still blows me away every day. She understands the struggle with food and is great with giving new perspectives that are hard to see on your own. I’ve had so many lightbulb moments with her that have helped me cement my knowledge and obtain a deeper level of learning. I would highly recommend Julie’s coaching to anyone struggling with binge eating that wants to make massive progress.” – Ashley

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“I started working with Julie about a month ago. I have learned how to readjust my thinking and habits. Her sessions are simultaneously laser-focused and specific while staying flexible and positive the whole time. It feels like I’m just sitting and talking with a friend who isn’t judging me AND giving really helpful targeted advice! I leave every session with really clear “homework” to act on or think about. She always has great insight for things I haven’t thought of or considered before, and she’s really teaching me how to focus on becoming the fulfilled and well-rounded person I know I can be. This is the first time in my life where I feel like I am actually going to achieve the goals we set out together. I can’t recommend her highly enough!” Liz

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“Julie has been coaching me on several occasions. She has a unique ability to be gentle, and at the same time, highly motivational in searching for answers with me to end “struggles” and find peaceful new ways to deal with urges. It is really amazing how much you can move in a good direction with only a few minutes of coaching” Charlotte

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“Julie’s calm and non-judgmental presence was so comforting and reassuring to me. She has such a deep and personal understanding of the issues I was facing, and she was able to guide me toward insights that had a profound effect on my recovery path. Through Julie’s kind questioning and uplifting spirit, I learned how to accept my full self and begin to practice self-compassion. Her mindfulness-based approach was truly the missing piece for me. I absolutely loved working with Julie, and recommend her coaching for anyone looking to overcome their eating issues and embrace all of life’s joys.” – Melissa

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“The coaching sessions with Julie have been an immense support over the last few weeks for me. With Julie’s whole-hearted attitude and genuine kindness, I was able to open up to her and also be completely honest to myself through that. This was the fire in my journey of becoming binge free for good and also working on my thought patterns and allowing and processing all kinds of emotions. Julie is not only very empathetic, she brings a knowledge from brain science, to mindfulness and compassion, and in-depth experience about how to work on emotional and binge eating. With Julie’s focus on the wins and successes, I am not only transforming my habits around eating but also how I approach life generally. It is a true pleasure and win to be able to work with Julie!” -Prisca

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“Julie helps me see my mind clearly and with great kindness.  She is helping me see my patterns of thought and behavior, and from this place of understanding I can make changes that will undoubtedly benefit me for years to come.” – Abby

Go to Julie’s calendar to book your call

$180 for a 45-minute call (plus call notes), and one follow-up email

If you have questions about coaching, you can contact Julie at juliemanncoaching@gmail.com

binge eating one-on-one coaching

The Life Coach School

Dieting Prevention Tips

“It’s fine to raise awareness about eating disorders, but I believe more focus should be on preventing dieting, because eating disorders are not illnesses that inexplicably happen to people. Nearly all cases of anorexia and bulimia, and a large number of cases of BED, would never occur without the initial diet.”Brain over Binge, pg 276

Dieting prevention is a multifaceted topic, and there is not one way to ensure dieting does not happen in a young person—or anyone, at any point in life. In Brain over Binge, I mentioned some things that may have helped me personally avoid turning to dieting in my teen years, and one of them was: less emphasis on weight in the family. I frequently heard comments from my parents, relatives, and family friends that led me to believe remaining slim was of extreme importance. When I naturally put on some weight during puberty, it was more concerning to me than it should have been, I believe, because of my previous exposure to a lot of dieting and weight talk.

I’ve made an effort to keep that type of talk away from my kids as much as possible, although I can’t shelter them from what they hear outside of my home, or every little thing that may come up in what they watch. It’s impossible to control the culture and the often unrealistic images children may see, but something we can do as adult role models is to be aware of what we say and the effect it could have. Even seemingly innocent comments about food and weight can add up over time, causing children to feel like dieting and obsessing about weight is a normal part of growing up.  Conversely, when adults offer a positive example, it can help young people avoid falling into unhealthy restrictive behaviors.

If you’ve struggled with an eating disorder or other food  issues, I know it can be a priority for you to not pass those struggles on to your children. I want to offer some simple tips to help keep dieting and weight talk to a minimum. I’ve listed several suggestions of things not to say around young people, but consider that this advice can be useful for any conversation you have—in order to reduce your focus on your body and food, and help you focus elsewhere.

Stop saying negative comments about your own body (even if you’re having negative thoughts about your body).

Stop talking about your desire to lose weight. 

Stop commenting on the weight of others. (Don’t say who has lost or gained weight, or who is too thin or too fat. Teach children that we’re all different and we’re all worthy, and that people are much more than their appearance.)

Don’t say that certain foods will make you gain weight. (It’s fine to teach your kids which foods are the most nourishing for the body, but don’t make it about body size.)

After you’ve eaten, don’t express feelings of guilt. (If you believe you made a poor food choice, just move on and try to make a better choice next time.)

Don’t warn children that one day they’ll have to watch their weight, and therefore stop being able to eat what they want. (The truth is that an attitude of deprivation leads to more overeating and more weight gain in the long run. Of course we want kids to make good choices around food, but instilling a restrictive mindset won’t help them reach that goal.)

Accept compliments on the way you look, without responding with something critical or negative about your body or size. (just say thank you!)

Don’t give weight-related reasons for not having desserts or other foods. (If someone offers you cake for example, and you don’t want it, just say no thank you. Don’t say that it will go straight to your hips or that it will ruin your diet.)

Don’t tell your kids you exercise in order to lose weight or prevent weight gain. (Tell them it’s about being strong, feeling good, having energy, and taking care of your health.)

Make choosing healthy foods about health and self-care, not weight.  (If you eat something healthier than what your kids are eating, don’t tell them it’s because what they are eating is too fattening or has too many calories.)

Don’t criticize yourself about what you are choosing to eat. (Don’t say, I shouldn’t be eating this. When you choose to eat something, eat it and enjoy it, without beating yourself up. Model the fact that no one eats perfectly.)

Don’t make comments about children’s weight. (There’s no need to make children turn attention to their body shape, even if you think you are offering them a compliment.)

All of this advice does not mean that you can’t teach children about nutrition or what habits will lead to a healthy life. Talk to them about nourishment. Talk to them about eating to feel good. Talk to them about playing outside for fun, and moving their body for the pure enjoyment of it.  If you can model a healthy, balanced, and active lifestyle—while also avoiding teaching children to diet and try to control their weight by depriving themselves—it gives them the best chance of maintaining a positive relationship with food and a healthy weight for a lifetime.

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More help:

If you struggle with binge eating and want guidance as you recover, here are some resources for additional support:

Brain over Binge Course – Self-paced online lessons (plus an app) for only $10.99/month. Includes over 120 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.