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.

binge eating recovery simple

Is Binge Eating Recovery Ever “Simple”?

If you’ve followed my blog or podcast, or read my books, you may notice that I use the word “simple” a lot to describe my approach. My podcast introduction is, “you’ll learn a simple, brain-based approach to ending binge eating,” and the subtitle of my second book (The Brain over Binge Recovery Guide) is, “A Simple and Personalized Plan for Ending Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder.”

When I was finishing up that book at the end of 2015, I received the first printed copy of it in the mail to review before publication. I remember picking up the book, looking at the cover, and the word simple really standing out to me—as a word that seemed to contradict the size of the book (378 pages!). In that moment, I kind of laughed at myself for choosing the word simple for such a thick book, and I imagined future readers wondering how in the world this approach could be simple.

Without ever opening the book, it does seem like an inconsistency, and I did briefly think about changing the subtitle at the last minute to avoid potential confusion. However, I ultimately decided to stick with it because I trusted that the reader would quickly understand why I used that word.

Only 2 Goals to End Binge Eating

At its core, the Brain over Binge approach is a simple approach to binge eating recovery. You focus on just two recovery goals: Learning to dismiss the urges to binge, and learning to eat adequately. You do not need to solve all of your other problems, or learn to cope perfectly with your emotions, or create a happy life, or develop fulfilling relationships. You also do not have to control your circumstances, or avoid triggers, or eat in one certain way, or be at your ideal weight.

I try to help you narrow your focus and learn to use the power of your brain to end the binge eating habit. Truly, all you need to do is stop following urges to binge and eat enough food. But, I realize that seems much too simple on the surface, so there’s a lot of explaining that I need to do and background information I need to give for the two recovery goals to make sense. This is the primary reason for the length of my books, and why I’m already up to Episode 87 on my podcast.

Another reason that my approach is simple, but my resources are extensive is: the two recovery goals of dismissing binge urges and eating adequately are not typically goals that you wake up and suddenly decide to do, and know exactly how to do, and achieve perfect success right away. There are usually questions that come up along the way, and I do my best to answer them.


Dismissing Binge Urges Requires a New Perspective & Practice

The first recovery goal (learning to dismiss binge urges) requires viewing the urges in a new way, so that you can stop reacting to them and stop acting on them. Again, this takes some explaining, especially about the brain and how it drives behavior. It’s necessary to become aware of your thinking and how your urges are convincing you to binge, and it’s important to be able to experience your own power over these urges—which you may not experience right away.

Additionally, it can take practice to become consistently successful at avoiding binges. You may need to do some troubleshooting to improve your ability to dismiss the urges—determining what works uniquely for you. The process of change is a little different for each person, even though there are certainly similarities in all habits, based on the way the human brain works.

Eating Adequately Requires Ending Dieting & Finding Your Own Formula

As it relates to the second recovery goal (eating adequately), this can also be something that requires some learning—or even a great deal of learning. You certainly do not need to eat perfectly to stop binge eating, but if you’re used to restriction and not giving your body enough food, then you’ll need to learn to nourish yourself properly. It’s impossible to stop binge eating for good if you continue down the path of dieting and continue not meeting your body’s physical needs.

Giving up dieting can be a challenge if you’ve been attached to it for a long time, and as part of this fundamentally simple goal of eating adequately, I share a lot of information to help you let dieting go. It’s important to understand why dieting is not a way to reach and maintain a healthy weight, and you need to learn to overcome fears of weight gain. Additionally, binge eating itself has negative effects on appetite regulation, so I also offer guidance (especially in my course) that is aimed at helping you through the process of learning to eat normally again.

The way of eating that works for you is going to be different than it is for someone else. As Brain over Binge coach Julie frequently says in group coaching and one-on-one coaching, it’s about finding your own formula—how you uniquely want to eat, and what feels good in your own body.

This Is Not a “Just Quit” Approach to Binge Eating Recovery

Everything I’ve said so far does not mean recovery needs to be a long road. I do not believe that’s the case, and one of my main goals is to empower you to believe that you absolutely can stop this habit and move on with your life. However, I want to be clear that my message includes much more than telling you to “just stop binge eating.”

I think that’s where it’s possible to misinterpret the simplicity of the Brain over Binge approach. Although the ultimate goal is to stop binge eating (as it would be with any approach), I fully realize there is more to it than that. When I was struggling with bingeing, if anyone would have told me to “just stop,” it would have made me angry—because of course I was trying to stop! I did not want to be binge eating, and if I could have “just stopped” at the time, I would have.

So when you hear me say in a blog post, or podcast episode, or Instagram post that you have the power to stop bingeing, please know that if you keep reading or listening, I will do my best to help you understand this, and apply it in your life, and free yourself from binge eating.


Let Recovery Be as Simple as Possible

I believe that traditional ways of viewing eating disorders—as diseases or symptoms of underlying emotional or psychological issues—make recovery much more complicated than it needs to be. You do not need to fundamentally transform yourself or solve your other problems to recover. Let your recovery from binge eating be as simple as possible. Don’t feel like you need to change so many parts of your life, or eat perfectly, or love your body all of the time in order to stop this habit.

Recovery may take letting go of some old ideas that are no longer serving you. It may take realizing that binge eating is not doing anything positive for you. It may take a new understanding of how your brain is working to get you to binge. Avoiding binges and learning to consistently nourish your body can take some practice; but I hope that by cutting out any unnecessary confusion, the Brain over Binge approach gives you a much more clear-cut, efficient, and simple path to ending this habit.


More help:

If you want extra guidance as you work on the recovery goals of the Brain over Binge approach, 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.

Brain over Binge Mindfulness Coaching

Mindfulness Coaching (New to the Course!)

As a Brain over Binge course member, you get access to 1 new track per month (either a Q&A track or a coaching track), plus a recorded live stream where I answer questions.

For the past 2 months, I’ve added a new type of coaching track that provides powerful mindfulness coaching.

This type of coaching guides you through mindfulness exercises that allow you to…

  • Become more aware
  • Notice your thoughts
  • Strengthen your higher brain
  • Feel connected with your body
  • Ground yourself in a sense of calm

Mindfulness coaching tracks are created and recorded by Julie, our new Brain over Binge coach, and there will be many more of these tracks added in the future!

I want to give you a sample of a mindfulness coaching track that centers around self-compassion. You can read a description of the full mindfulness coaching track below, learn how it can help you, and then listen to the 3 minute clip. (The full tracks average about 10 minutes long, including pauses for reflection and mindful breathing.)

Mindfulness Track 1: Self-Compassion​ (Sample below)

This track will help you develop compassion for yourself as you work on ending binge eating. Self-criticism makes change much more difficult, so it’s important to learn to support yourself during the recovery process. Through self-compassion, you can accept your humanity and mistakes, while still developing strength and resilience to pursue your goal of being binge-free.

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Learn more about the course (only $18.99 per month for 8 lessons and over 120 tracks!)

vacations traveling binge eating recovery

Vacations and Traveling in Binge Eating Recovery

You may be planning to travel or vacation this summer, especially after not being able to go anywhere last summer. If you are trying to recover from binge eating, you may be wondering how to handle this. You may be concerned that being out of your normal routine, and eating foods you don’t usually eat will interfere with your efforts to become and stay binge-free. Also, summer vacations often involve wearing swim suits or other clothes that bring up some body image concerns or desires to lose weight.

I want to give you some simple ideas to stay on track in recovery during travel, so that you can enjoy your vacation experience, and stay committed to ending the habit—no matter where you are or what you are doing. It’s important to learn to deal with variations in your routine, because the point of recovering is so that you can live your life without feeling held back by the eating disorder. You definitely don’t want to have to always keep one set routine in order to avoid binges, because that’s very limiting and it doesn’t give you the freedom that you want.

Simplify: Focus on the Two Recovery Goals

My first tip for vacation or travel is to remember that regardless of your location or situation, all you have to do for recovery is two things: 1. Dismiss the urges to binge, and 2. Eat adequately. If you’ve followed my podcast, blog, or read the Brain over Binge Recovery Guide, you know that those are the two goals of the brain over binge approach. Those two recovery goals do not change when you’re away from home or when you’re engaging in activities that you don’t normally do. You may think that you need to do something special for different situations, and there is definitely value in being prepared (which I’ll talk about next), but know that you are ultimately just trying to not binge and to eat enough to support your efforts to not binge. You don’t need to make things overly complicated.

You can prepare to stay on track in recovery during vacation by making plans that will help you with both recovery goals. This is especially helpful when it comes to eating adequately while you are out of your normal routine. If you can generally plan (in a flexible way) for where and when you’ll have your meals and snacks, it can allow you to you feel more secure knowing that you aren’t going to let yourself get too hungry, which can be a setup for that survival drive to binge. If you’re going to be with others and therefore not in full control of when and where you’ll be eating, then it can be helpful to have some food on hand that you can eat if you’ll be waiting a long time between meals.

For the recovery goal of dismissing urges, there isn’t anything specific you need to do, but you can take a look at your patterns and determine when urges may be likely to come up on your vacation, and then develop plans to support yourself in dismissing them. For example, if you tend to have urges after meals and you find that it helps you to get out of the eating environment, you can plan to go for walks after you eat. Keep in mind that the activities you choose to do while you are experiencing urges aren’t meant to take the urges away, but doing something else can give you the time and space you need to connect with your higher brain and dismiss the urges. If you are new to dismissing urges to binge, you can learn the basics in my free PDF.

Don’t Let Negative Body Thoughts Lead to Binge Eating

If you travel in warm weather, or vacation at the beach, you may be concerned about what you’ll wear and how you’ll look. Even if you know rationally that you can enjoy yourself regardless of your weight or body size, you may have habitual negative body thoughts that pop up when you step out of your comfort zone with what you wear. It’s important to remember that it’s these body thoughts that you need to learn to manage, and your weight will take care of itself as you stay consistent with the two recovery goals. When you try to do the opposite—and attempt to manage your weight (with a restrictive diet), in order to get your body thoughts to go away—it has the unintended effect of making your binge eating worse, and making it harder to reach your natural healthy weight over time. (For thorough discussions about many weight-related topics, go to BrainoverBinge.com/Weight/)

No matter how you’re feeling about the way you look, and no matter if you’re comparing yourself to others, you can continue to eat enough food to support your recovery and to let your body heal. That doesn’t mean you should just let negative thoughts take over, because it’s definitely helpful to learn to stop being so critical of your own body. Being comfortable and confident does help you enjoy experiences more, but it’s not something that happens overnight; so for now, you can learn to enjoy experiences while having some automatic, habitual, negative body thoughts. You can dismiss and disregard the thoughts as much as you can, and you will get more skilled at this over time as the thoughts fade away. (Listen to Episode 40: Body Image and Binge Eating for more help with body image issues).

You also don’t have to feel great about your body to avoid binge eating. It’s possible you have a pattern right now of feeling unhappy with your body, and then having thoughts like, “I’ll never look the way I want, so I might as well binge.” When you learn to recognize thoughts like this as neurological junk, and when you don’t let those thoughts drive your actions, you are well on your way to a binge-free vacation, and a binge-free life.

Visualize Your Vacation Success

My next tip for you is to visualize or mentally rehearse how you’ll successfully handle challenging situations while you are out of your normal routine. For example, if you know that binge urges tend to arise when you feel negatively about your body, you can try to imagine having those body image concerns, and mentally rehearse what the thoughts urging you to binge might say. Then, you can see yourself (in your mind) not giving those binge thoughts any attention and refocusing on your vacation. If you’re someone who feels tempted to engage in restrictive dieting, you can also visualize yourself being successful at eating adequately in situations where you may be tempted to under-eat.

If you need a little extra help with this, I’ve created a recording to guide you in visualizing your success in dismissing urges (coaching track 4) and another one to help you imagine being successful at eating adequately (coaching track 11), and if you are a course member, I recommend that you listen to these two tracks prior to and during your trip, as well as other coaching tracks that help you stay on the path to recovery. If you are not a member, know that the course now includes an app that makes it convenient to listen on the go, and it’s only $10.99 per month for the coaching tracks plus over 100 other course resources to guide you toward freedom from binge eating. There is no long-term commitment, so you can get the course just for extra help on your trip and then cancel when you’re ready.

Allow for Flexibility

My final tip is to allow for flexibility and know that you do not have to be perfect on this vacation—or ever—and you can still avoid binge eating. This doesn’t mean you’ll give yourself excuses to overindulge in a problematic way on vacation, it means you need to realize that no one eats perfectly, and especially on vacation when you’re often eating out a lot. Your eating will be different than it is at home, and that’s okay. You can see this as an opportunity to learn that you can eat normally in any situation and eat normal amounts of any food.

If you’re used to eating healthy most of the time, and you won’t have the ability to cook or have access to your regular nutritious foods, this may bring up some anxiety. But, this is a great chance to teach yourself that you can be successful regardless of the types of foods you are eating. Eating in a way that’s less healthy than usual does not mean you’re binge eating or that you’re doing something wrong in recovery. It gives you so much freedom to know that you are capable of eating fast food, or convenience food, or delicious food at a restaurant, and still avoid going into an out-of-control binge. It’s impossible to eat in a perfect way your whole life, and vacation is a great opportunity to practice imperfection and still stay on track in recovery.

Focus on Living!

My last simple tip is the most important, and that’s to enjoy your vacation! Each time your brain tries to habitually pull your focus toward food, weight, or bingeing, you can consciously redirect your focus toward what truly matters to you. Focus on the people you are with, the sights you are seeing, the activities you are engaged in, and the pleasure of a break from your normal daily schedule. You deserve to live free of this habit, and you can start stepping into that binge-free version of yourself right now.

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If you want extra guidance as you use the Brain over Binge approach, 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.

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.

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, call notes, recording, and follow-up email support 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 & recording), and follow-up email support*

*Email support is up to daily for anyone working with Julie on an ongoing basis. For a single call, you will have a few follow up emails as needed.

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

binge eating one-on-one coaching

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