In episode 100, I did a “Best of the Podcast” episode where I put together audio clips that I thought would best summarize the Brain over Binge concepts and would be the most useful for you to keep in mind as you work on recovery. I thought this would be helpful for you to have in writing as well, so I’ve turned the “Best of the Podcast” episode into a blog post here. I hope this post provides an additional source of inspiration and practical advice to apply while you stop binge eating.
Today is Episode 100 and I feel like it’s a big milestone. I’m very happy to have been able to produce 100 episodes! I want to thank everyone who has listened to the podcast along the way, whether you’ve listened to one episode or all 100 episodes.
I wanted to do something special for the 100th episode so I decided to compile a Best of the Podcast episode. What I did is just went through and picked out some of my favorite parts that I felt like would be the most useful for you to review and to keep in mind as you work on ending the binge eating habit.
I found it to be a fun project to go through all of the episodes and revisit a lot of the topics that we’ve covered so far, and also to hear a lot of the guests that I’ve had on the show. I’ve had some really amazing guests, and I want to thank everyone who has been on the show and shared their ideas. Although I wasn’t able to include everyone, just know that I’m so thankful for all of the insights and information that my guests have shared over the years.
I’m also very thankful for everyone who has subscribed to the podcast, and for those of you who have not subscribed already, I would encourage you to subscribe because I plan to keep this podcast going for as long as I can, and I would love for you to be here listening.
So now I’ll go ahead and share the best of the Brain over Binge podcast…
“The Brain over Binge approach is about learning to see your binge eating in light of the brain, and then using that information to empower yourself. It’s about changing your perspective to see yourself as fundamentally healthy, and not broken, and not diseased. In the Brain over Binge philosophy, binge eating is a natural (but also very primitive) brain response to restrictive dieting, which becomes a habit over time. Or, binge eating can also develop as a primitive response to repeated overeating of highly stimulating foods, which increases over time and then forms the same binge eating habit. Either way, it’s a primitive brain response that makes you feel out of control, and what we’re going to teach you is to take control back.”
“In conventional treatment, it’s common to hear that the urges to binge are symptoms—that they are symptoms of underlying emotional problems or psychological problems. This is a very popular and mainstream idea. The theory is that you have urges to binge because you’re not able to cope with those problems or with difficult emotions in your life in an effective way. Because binge eating is seen as a coping mechanism, then the urges are viewed in a more symbolic way—like a signal that you need to learn to cope better. This is what I was taught, but to me, the urges never felt like a need to cope. They always felt like a need to eat massive quantities of food. At a very basic level, it didn’t seem any more complicated than that, and it wasn’t.”
“One of the things that’s important for you to know very early in learning about this approach is that it may improve your life if you learn how to deal with moods, it may improve your life if you learn how to solve problems and live a better life, but the most important thing is to separate improving yourself/improving your life from stopping binge eating. It is not necessary to be the best that you can be in order to stop this problem. You may be interested in that anyway, but it’s really important to know that you can stop binging and not perfect all these different areas of your life, because we see the urges themselves as the problem. And when you look at it that way, the answer is to stop responding to the urges, and eventually they will fade away.” -Cookie Rosenblum
“All the lower brain can do is send impulses and encourage you to act. But when you feel these urges, know that you have complete power to choose not to act. When you know you’re separate from the urges, it allows you to have access to the self-control functions in your higher brain. In other words, when you absolutely believe you have this power over the urges and that these urges can’t control you, then it’s much easier to choose not to act on them.”
“It’s possible that you’ve learned the information that we’ve shared so far about dismissing the urges to binge, and (either because you have a strong desire to lose weight or you’re just still in that habit of food restriction) you’ve taken the strategy of dismissing urges too far. Maybe you’ve been thinking that you should dismiss every desire for unhealthy food or every desire to eat more than a very strict calorie limit that you’ve set for yourself. This is not the intention of the Brain over Binge approach. Dismissing urges is not a way to become a better dieter—it’s a way to stop binge eating.”
“It’s not that you truly want to binge one last time, it’s that this “one last time” mentality is just something that our lower brains automatically produce when we have a destructive habit. I want you to think about all the times you’ve thought “just one last time”…you truly believed it in the moment, but then the next time you had a urge to binge, the thought came up again and you believed it again. What if you stopped believing this thought? What if you instead realized that the “one last time” mentality is a reaction of the primitive part of your brain with the goal of getting what it wants right now. The lower brain is not concerned with your long term goals or even what you’ll do tomorrow. It’s job is only to get you to binge right now, and the one last time thought is an extremely effective way that it does that.”
“It’s very important not to put too many conditions on your ability to recover. However, if there is truly an area that you feel, if you worked on it would help you either better dismiss urges or eat adequately, then please work on it. Looking at it this way, you aren’t endlessly trying to work on other problems in hopes that it will take your urges to binge away or that it will make recovery effortless. You’re approaching it in a much more targeted and practical way. If you’re having trouble dismissing the urges to binge, think “what can I do that will help me better dismiss them?”… then work on it, and you will be ready for recovery. If you’re having trouble eating adequately, think “what can I do or what can I work on that will help me eat enough food?”…and then work on it and you’ll be ready for recovery. In other words, please do what you need to do so that you can start to feel more capable of eating adequately and dismissing binge urges. Don’t just say you “aren’t ready,” for whatever reason, and then not do anything about it. You deserve a binge free life, so try to remove any issues that you feel are truly holding you back.”
“My personal opinion is that relying on your intuition is a good thing. However, you always need to know that you have your higher brain to oversee your actions and your choices, and you can use your higher brain to steer yourself toward better choices if your intuition seems not to be leading you in a good direction. If you find yourself only eating highly processed, highly stimulating food, every time you’re hungry, it may be time to insert some rational, higher brain choices as well. Highly processed, modern food doesn’t quite interact with our body in a way that always leads to completely clear and reliable hunger and fullness signals or completely reliable cravings, and people with or without eating disorders have to deal with the effects that modern foods can sometimes have on us. It’s important to know that your higher brain always has the ability to veto harmful cravings and exert self-control to guide your choices. Using your higher brain and your intuition in conjunction can provide you with the balance that you need.”
“Thoughts that encourage purging will often give you the message that a purge or some form of compensation for the binge will undo the damage of a binge. But when you’re not feeling tempted to binge, you can see how false this thought is, because of course a purge does not undo any damage. It actually does the opposite. It causes severe damage to your health and to your life. A purge does not rectify a wrong. A purge is an additional wrong. It’s an additional source of suffering. During binge urges, thoughts about purging can make it seem like repeating this binge-purge cycle one more time will be harmless, but you know that it’s not harmless. You know it’s causing damage in your life, and you know it’s not what you truly want to be doing. Like any thought that makes binge eating seem appealing, thoughts that use purging as a reason to binge need to be dismissed.”
“We’re experiencing life through our moment to moment thinking, and that moment to moment thinking, it comes up and it looks so real to us. So again, if you’re a binge eater and you’re having an urge, or you’re just really caught up in “should I eat this, should I not eat this,” you know, you’re in that. You are in it, and it is absolutely real, and it feels true, and it feels important to you, but that’s just the nature of thought. That’s the same if you’re considering like, “should I buy this house or that house,” you know, “should I wear these shoes or those shoes.” Now, those might feel like they have a different level of urgency to them or a different level of importance, but it’s all the exact same when we look level deeper. It’s all thought coming to life within us. And it’s not who we are and it’s not permanent, and it’s nothing we need to try to fix and figure out and sort through because it does that on its own. It moves through us. So I’ll pause, but I’ll just say that’s sort of the cornerstone of it—helping people see how all human experience works—because when we aren’t afraid of our experience, when we aren’t afraid of feeling fat or an urge or the next diet or whatever, when we aren’t caught up in our heads, we’re kind of back to life being really easy (like before we found ourselves in this issue).” –Dr. Amy Johnson
“If binge eating has been clouding your life for a long time, you may not be able to fully see what your life could be like after recovery. But no matter what life brings, that opportunity to have the freedom from food issues is so worth it. You’ll be free from the shame, the physical discomfort, and the feeling of being out of control of your own life. If you can experience even a moment of that freedom from the consequences of bingeing, and you can get excited about that, it can solidify your desire to keep going and to keep moving toward recovery, despite any uncertainty about what your life might be like afterward. I encourage you to keep focusing on all of your motivations to recover, but remember that underneath those reasons lies a desire to be free to live all of your life—the good and the bad—without the pain of binge eating”
“Behavior happens through action, and the actions taken consistently time and time again—small actions—not only do they build up new behaviors, but they actually create optimism, and they actually generate motivation. And so if somebody’s not feeling motivated, a lot of times they want inspiration, they want motivation. I remember feeling this way all the time…where’s it going to come from? What new book can I download? What new piece of wisdom can I find? And all of that can be useful, but until you start taking constructive action, the motivation’s going to hit a ceiling. It’s the general building up of behaviors that creates energy, that creates momentum, and that helps a person’s self-esteem.” –Katherine Thomson, Ph.D.
“Learning to deal with emotions better is fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do that. I’m just saying you don’t need to solve all your emotional problems to stop bingeing. I’m not saying you have to learn to deal with emotions perfectly before you can quit—because if that were true, recovery would be elusive because no one deals with emotions well all the time. You know, all of us get overwhelmed sometimes, but bingeing just needs to become something that’s not an option, and when bingeing is not an option, then you have so many options available to you for helping you get through tough emotions, and these options don’t lead to consequences. You need to realize that bingeing never actually helped you cope with any of these emotions. If it provided the secondary benefit of distraction, you know now that it’s not worth it, that it’s much better to dismiss that urge. And then, if you continue to have distressing emotions, and you aren’t able to kind of learn to see them in a new way, you’re not able to let them pass or find ways to deal with them, then it’s something you can address in a more healthy way once the bingeing is done. If you have emotions that feel unmanageable, bingeing is never the solution.”
“Mindfulness points you towards your inner power. It really, really shows you who you truly are and that you are not your thoughts, that you were never your thoughts, that you are the one who is observing your thoughts.”
“The first tip I have for you is to ask yourself: Is my exercise an unhealthy compulsion? Or is it a healthy habit? It’s important to make this distinction because healthy habits, you can also feel compelled to do them. For example, you’ll feel compelled to brush your teeth at night, and it’s a compulsion (you could call it a compulsion) because you feel that drive to do it, but it’s healthy. So that’s a healthy habit. So even though there could be some compulsion and you feel driven towards something, it can still be a healthy habit. So I think it’s useful to look at your exercise like that and think, “okay, yes, I do feel driven toward it, but is my brain driving me towards something healthy? Or is this something unhealthy?”
“What I teach is specifically for binge eating, and it can be applied I think also to other problematic eating habits that feel really compulsive—like excessive overeating, or compulsive overeating, or whatever you want to call it. But what I really want to get across today is that the intent of my approach is not to use it as a strategy to try to stick to strict diets or to use it as a strategy to try to follow really rigid weight loss plans, or to try to get yourself to eat less than you physically need. In fact, a big part of my approach is about making sure that you are eating enough—that you’re allowing yourself all types of foods…and I realize that not everyone can eat all types of foods, so another way of saying that might be to learn to eat in the least restrictive way that’s possible for you personally. And then also in addition to eating enough comes the dismissing urges piece—learning to not act on those thoughts that encourage you to binge. The only way that dismissing binge urges works to get rid of the binge eating for good is if you’re also eating enough—if you’re eating adequately as I call it in my approach. Now I realize that some creators of diet plans or weight loss strategies could argue that the plans are adequate and they’re not overly restrictive, and I completely understand that point of view, and some of these plans may certainly be adequate, but that’s not the issue I’m raising today. What I’m talking about today is clarifying the intention of the brain over binge approach, which is to dismiss the urges to binge. My approach is not meant to be used to dismiss every urge to veer from your diet or your eating plan, whatever that may be—even if you could argue that your eating plan is technically adequate.”
“I’ve seen research that if you’re in that food deprived state and you are, you know, starving yourself trying to lose weight that it does make you feel like you’re addicted to food. It’s kind of a natural survival instinct. And once you start nourishing yourself, once you start eating enough, I think a lot of that can rebalance. What are your thoughts on that?
I think that’s very true. When you’re starved, you are seeking food, you’re needing it, and you’re also going to be more sensitive to the effect. So if you’ve been under eating for a period of time, or maybe haven’t eaten in several hours, whatever you do eat is going to hit you harder. So I think that it does kind of create this increased sensitivity to certain foods, and it does perpetuate the whole cycle.” – Katherine Thomson, Ph.D.
“It’s not so much that you care about your weight or you want to be kind of your best version of yourself, it’s when you try to be a version of yourself that’s not possible, that’s unrealistic, that’s a weight that your body cannot physically be unless you do harmful things. So, you know, if you’re wanting to, like I said, kind of make the most of your own body and to feel good in it, it’s not a problem, as long as you’re not obsessed. But when you try to sort of go outside of your natural range (which you might not quite know what that is yet, and that’s okay), but when you try to go outside of that, that’s when things become harmful.”
“Okay, I want to dive deeper into one thing you said—you mentioned the fact that purging is not a form of weight control, it’s a very ineffective form of weight control. And I find that talking to people, you know, they know the health risks of purging, they know that it’s ruining their life, but they have this fear that if they stop, they’re going to gain all this weight. So can you kind of speak to that, maybe from your own experience of what happened to your weight in recovery and also your clients as well—just to kind of alleviate that fear that people have that stopping purging means that their weight will skyrocket.
Sure, absolutely. This is something that terrified me as well, you know—thinking, oh, I’m going to have to recover and recovery was going to be gaining lots of weight. Because in my eyes, at that time, to me normal eating was chaotic eating, and my body wanted to eat a lot. So I thought in general, that was what had to be done—I was going to eat lots and lots of food all the time and to take away the purging was scary. However, that’s not the case. So yes, purging is not an effective form of weight loss, not at all. Purging, you know, there is science behind it as well, there are experiments where they show that through self-induced vomiting, I think the body retains around 50% of the calories, depending on whatever the measurement of that binge during that experiment was. And, you know, because digestion starts in the mouth. Also as well, I think your body is really highly, highly, so clever. When you’re doing all these self-destructive habits, your body’s like really getting clever at retaining more calories as well—it’s trying to save your life.” –Ali Kerr
“One of my main goals is to empower you to believe that you absolutely can stop this habit and move on with your life, and that it does not have to be overly complicated, but I want to be clear that I’m not telling you to “just stop the habit and move on with your life.” I think that’s where some people misinterpret the simplicity of my approach. They think I’m saying the solution to binge eating is to “just stop the binge eating.” And of course, in any approach to stopping binge eating, the goal is ultimately to stop the binge eating, but it understandably makes people upset if they think someone is telling them “well, if you’re having a problem with bingeing, just stop bingeing.” I would’ve been upset too—when I was in the depths of my problem—if someone would have said to “just stop.” That would’ve made me very angry because I was of course trying to stop, of course I did not want to be binging. If I could have just stopped, I would have. So, when you hear me say in these episodes or in my books that you have the power to stop binging, I fully realize that there’s much more to this than “just stopping.” I do believe that in many approaches, recovery is too overcomplicated, especially if you’ve learned through other approaches that you’re flawed or broken or diseased, or you need to fundamentally transform yourself in order to recover. I strongly believe you should keep your recovery from binge eating as simple as possible. I don’t think you need to change so many parts of your life or change your personality or your relationships, or think you need to eat perfectly, or love your body all the time, or have amazing self-esteem in order to stop this habit. In the brain over binge approach, recovery is fundamentally about stopping a harmful habit that you’ve inadvertently developed. But if I believed that the solution to stopping the binge eating habit was to tell yourself to “just stop” or to have someone else tell you to stop, then my books would not be over 600 pages in total. I believe that you definitely can stop your habit, and like I say, at the end of every show, “you have the power to change your brain and live a binge free life.” But this approach is not just about telling yourself to quit. I’m sure you’ve already done that a thousand times. To use the concepts that I teach, it may take letting go of some old ideas that are no longer serving you, it may take realizing that the 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. It may take learning to consistently nourish your body, and it will likely take some practice to learn to recognize your binge urges and then to dismiss them. I hope that the brain over binge approach does give you a much more efficient path to ending this habit—by cutting out any unnecessary confusion—but I definitely do not want you to feel like a failure or to feel like you’re doing something wrong if you can’t “just stop.” You’re learning and you will improve, and you will overcome this habit.”
“You will have moments when you feel like a binge is what you want, but that’s the key—you’ll only “feel” like a binge is what you want, in certain moments. Feelings are sensations that rise and fall and change and are constantly in flux. Your feelings of wanting to binge have nothing to do with what you actually want—which is to be free of this habit.”
“…something that brings up just a lot of anxiety, so an important starting point when it comes to making peace with your hunger is realizing that the sensations of hunger are not the problem. The problem is these negative associations that you’ve developed surrounding hunger. And you can start trying to separate that out and starting to dismiss some of those negative thoughts you have around hunger and dismiss some of those self-judgments, and start gravitating back toward feeling hunger as a more pure experience—as you probably did when you were a child. And to decondition any of the fear you have around hunger—as it relates to fearing that you’ll binge in response to hunger—as you get more and more confident that you won’t, then this fear naturally subsides. So in order to break this association, it’s going to take many times of being hungry and satisfying that hunger, but then dismissing the urges to go on to binge. Once you’re confident that you can eat in response to hunger, and that it won’t spiral into a binge, then hunger is going to feel like much less of a threat. Eating adequately will also help make hunger feel like less of a threat, because remember some of your anxiety about hunger came from the fact that hunger seemed like the enemy when you were dieting. As you give up dieting, and as you learn to nourish your body, you start viewing hunger simply as a signal that you need to eat, and you stop viewing it as an enemy.”
“At what point am I going to accept this reality, and just realize I can accept me for where I’m at. So, it’s kind of owning your suffering. It’s going “okay I didn’t cause it, but I own it,” and this sort of idea I think really helps to free you because you can now move forward in your life. You’re able to accept your suffering, but at the same time, you can still work on changing it. And I think the most powerful thing about that is rather than putting all your attention and focus on, you know, “what’s happened? what’s wrong with me? I’ve been dealt a bad hand,” instead, you can just think to yourself, “well, what can I do about it?” – Richard Kerr
“What I want to talk about today is the fact that an eating disorder takes so much from you. And one of the things that it seems to take is the ability to be truly present in your life, and I think this becomes most evident during hard times in your own life, or in the life of your family, or your community, or your country, or the world. Feeling so compelled to binge, and purge, and restrict, and obsess about your weight takes away from you focusing on what’s truly important to you. I know you don’t want this. I know that you’re not intentionally taking your focus away from meaningful matters in order to focus on food. I know this because I’ve been there. I remember when I was stuck in a cycle of binging and purging having really bad things happen in my life and in the world… just as some examples, my best friend passed away, other family members that I was close to also passed away. Natural disasters affected the world. September 11th caused so much suffering, and through these events and many more, I continued to binge and continued to purge and focus on food and weight. I remember feeling like such a bad person, I remember feeling selfish because I so wanted to turn my energy outward to help others and I so wanted to be with others in their suffering and be present with them, and to even just be present with my own suffering with an open heart, but I felt so closed down. I felt stuck, and I really beat myself up over this. I would ask myself, “what kind of person continued to binge when I knew there were people in this world who were in need?” I would ask myself, “what kind of person would continue to spend hours and hours in the gym to try to compensate for binges when I could be using that time to make a difference in a meaningful way.” Looking back, I see that the kind of person who does that is a person that simply stuck in a vicious brain-based habit.”
“I have to just say it—like there’s some really harmful rhetoric out there on social media about, people, you know—with good intentions, for sure—but it damages people who are looking on and trying to learn about intuitive eating. The message is often: when you’re doing this right, you’ll know exactly what you feel like eating, and you’ll know exactly when you’re hungry, and you’ll know what you’re craving…and it just makes it feel like—first of all, it feels really inaccessible even to me to approach food that way. I’m not able to just run out and grab whatever food I want whenever I think about it—like financially, schedule wise, like that’s just “no.” –Paige Smathers, RDN
“What you also have to understand is like, it’s not because you recover from your eating disorder, that you will not have cravings anymore, but you will learn to trust your body. When you have an eating disorder, the cravings are often, as you mentioned, spiraling out of control—binging and purging. But here you start learning that your body is your friend, and because it sends some kind of message, you have to listen to that. And in a way, you have to understand why you have that, but you can also learn to honor the cravings because they are not, you know, spiraling down into a full binge. So sometimes you will want an ice cream and that’s totally fine, but you will eat it with love, you know, and not, “oh, I shouldn’t do that, and I’ve done that, and I failed, and I better binge and purge, right?” It’s like the relationship with your own body and the cravings that it sends to you is totally different.”
“I want to tell you that once you stop acting on these urges, and once you stop following that desire to binge, you’re going to realize that it was never any form of pleasure. Binge eating is going to start to look like the exact opposite of pleasure the further and further you get from that behavior. You’ll wonder why you ever had a desire for that fleeting, primal pleasure. That desire is simply conditioned in your brain right now. But once you extinguish that habit, you’re no longer going to view it as pleasurable. So, it’s not like you’re going to stop the habit and then you’re going to go the rest of your life having this desire inside of you for something that you are no longer doing. You’ll stop having that desire. You’ll start to think that binge eating would be the last thing you would do if you wanted pleasure.”
“Maybe there’s a little bit of time, “oh boy, oh boy, I get to do this thing, I get to have these foods,” but that stops right away when we can’t taste anymore, when we can’t stop, when we’re feeling sick, when we’re disgusted—we can’t seem to break away until we’re just totally worn out. I now hold onto that image so tightly (it’s not even now, it was back then)—when I was able to more strongly hold on to how difficult that really was, how uncomfortable, how unappealing that really was, as opposed to glorifying that binge as “oh boy, oh boy.” That picture and then the end result—how it was going to feel afterwards, and the reality of how it felt afterwards, and the downward spiral, and the physical discomfort—not just immediately afterwards, but the next day—the memories, the physical destruction that happens when we fill ourselves with stuff that is not good for us, and then in any way we happen to purge it, we purge it. It leaves us empty on all levels. That’s what I hold onto.”
“I do not believe that it’s helpful for me to tell you the one right way that you should eat, because that way is going to be different for everyone. I think it’s very important for you to discover how you should eat on your own, because your own personal way of eating that comes from experimentation and seeing what feels good in your body and what works for you—that will be much more powerful and more lasting than any meal plan than I could give you. So, I’m definitely not going to come out here and say that you absolutely must be eating three meals a day, and you must be eating a certain amount of snacks, and it has to be structured, or you need an exact amount of calories. You certainly can have a structured approach to eating, and you can count your calories to make sure you’re getting enough. There’s nothing wrong with doing that. It can be helpful just to ensure that you’re meeting your physical needs, but I do not believe that handing you a way of eating is what will be most helpful to you right now. If you’re like the majority of binge eaters, you may have gone from diet to diet, from meal plan to meal plan, or different eating program to eating program, thinking that would be the cure only to end up binge eating again. I want you to try to take a new approach to this: make your primary focus to be on learning to stop binging, and then just do the best you can to eat enough and eat in a way that works for you. Start to let go of dieting, in whatever form that takes in your life, and in doing that, you’ll already be on a path to discovering your own authentic eating habits.”
“Binge eating disorder, dieting, food and body obsession is what I think of as a life thief. I lost the majority of 40 years of my life and so much of my daughter’s life that I can never get back. It’s really unfathomable when I think about this. It makes me think of a line from a Mary Oliver poem that I love: “are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” And to everyone listening, who can relate to the years lost to this, I want to add that it’s never too late to heal, and that on the other side, you’re going to see that all that matters is now.” –Julie Mann (Brain over Binge coach)
“I encourage you to start dropping the pressure that you’re putting on yourself and to start thinking that you should be eating in exactly the way that you are eating, or in exactly the way that you just ate. And here I’m talking about eating habits that are not binging. It gives you a ton of freedom to think, “maybe I ate exactly as I should have, and this is not about tricking yourself into thinking that you ate healthy when you clearly didn’t, or that you ate the perfect amount when you feel like you’ve overeaten a little, but it is about accepting the way that you ate in that moment, and maybe there’s something to learn from that; but either way, you can simply move on without all of the overthinking. Consider that you can just eat and let it be what it is, consider that you can make a decision about food in the moment that you think is best for you—for whatever reason—and eat the food, and then let go of all of the overthinking afterward, and simply go on with your life.”
“I love to teach my clients that a huge and fun part of recovery is to generate desire for life. It’s time to start daydreaming about all the things that you really enjoy in life, as in things that give you true pleasure—while you’re thinking about it, while you do it, and after it’s done. I’d also love for everyone listening to think right now about what those true pleasures are for you. For me, it’s hugs from my daughter and conversations with her about what’s going on in her life, it’s also about reading great novels, looking at the view of Manhattan from my apartment window as the sun sets. I also love taking photos of flowers up close, and then sharing them with people I love. And what’s amazing about these things is that even talking about them now gives me a hit of pleasure—not the numbing out kind of hit from a binge, but the kind of gentle and heart-nourishing pleasure that leaves no net negative consequence. So again, to everyone listening, here are some great questions to consider: “If this moment isn’t about food, what do you want it to be about? What areas of your life would you like to generate desire on purpose for? What do you desire way more than food? What is your bigger and truer want? I think it’s so exciting to know that you can create desire for life and what you want for yourself on purpose.” –Julie Mann
“In the same way that dealing with stage fright as a pro musician helped me to understand the principles of moving through urges to binge, the skillset that we develop (I think you’ve mentioned this before and I was like, yes, absolutely!) …the skillset that we develop from learning to manage these urges and kind of move through them is something that we can then use moving forward when we want to look at other things.” –Marcus Kain
“So what are some ways people can say focused on those non-weight motivations, because I think the brain will habitually pull (and I’ve seen that the brain habitually pulls) people back to focusing on weight simply because that’s what it’s used to. So how do we change that pathway?
Yeah. I mean, it is a practice. So first of all, you start to engage in ways to remind yourself of it. So for me, it was journaling every single day—because I kept my promises to myself, because I didn’t binge today, I get these benefits immediately and I would write them down every single day. And I would tell them to people, and I would celebrate them because that was solidifying that new pathway for me. And, you know, another thing is: every time you find yourself going to weight, you can remind yourself, “and I’m feeling so much better in these ways.” – Julie Mann
“What’s your mission for Brain over Binge?
I just want to keep sharing my story as long as I can…I mean, part of me is like, “nobody wants to hear this story again,” but I think there is power in hearing someone’s story rather than just, “okay, this is what you have to do.” There’s a difference in just getting a bunch of advice, or really reading about someone’s journey and being there with them, and then sort of adjusting it to apply to your own life. So I just want to keep sharing my story, and then keep providing the additional help people may need to, you know, create their own story.”
I hope you enjoyed that compilation, and I hope it gave you some useful insights and information that you can use going forward as you end the binge eating habit. Thank you again for your support over the years, and thank you for being here for the 100th episode. If a lot of the clips in this episode resonated with you and you want to learn more, you can head over to BrainoverBinge.com and there you can get started with a free ebook (The Brain over Binge Basics) that I have available. When you get that free ebook, you also get a free track from the Brain over Binge Course called Manage Your Mindset After a Binge, and this is a track that will guide you in overcoming any slips that you may have during recovery. If you need more personalized support and accountability during recovery, you can learn more about coaching. One of the voices you heard toward the end of this episode was our wonderful Brain over Binge coach, Julie Mann, who offers one-on-one coaching and also group coaching.
I look forward to many more episodes and I hope you’ll join me. And as always, I want to encourage you and remind you that you have the power to change your brain and live a binge free life.
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.)
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.
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
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”
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
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).
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.
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”).
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.