Binge eating course questions

Questions in Binge Eating Recovery (Course Q&A’s)

If you are like most people struggling with binge eating, you probably have questions. The women and men I’ve spoken with over the years—who have read my books or been in my course, or who are new to the brain over binge approach—find it comforting to know that they aren’t the only ones with a certain issue or concern. I’ve noticed common themes in what people have asked me, and I decided that it would be practical and useful to compile and record detailed answers to all of these questions.

This task took me over a year, but when it was complete, I had created 84 Q&A audios that are now a central part of the newest version of my course, which you can start anytime. This binge eating recovery course has 115 total audios—which includes the 84 Q&As and 31 additional audios, plus other resources to help you stop bingeing. (In total, there is about 1,000 minutes or 17 hours of guidance, tips, information, suggestions, and ideas).

I wanted course users to be able to simply click on a question they have, at any time of day or night, and listen to a thorough response from me. I’ve received extremely positive feedback about these Q&A recordings, but people who are struggling with binge eating disorder or bulimia—and aren’t sure whether or not to sign up for the course—have frequently asked me questions about the questions, wanting to know which topics are discussed.

So, in this blog post, I want to share the entire list of questions that are in the Brain over Binge course (see below). But first, I want to tell you a little more about why I took the time to create the Q&A’ audios…

I was previously answering these questions frequently in group coaching for binge eating or one-on-one coaching, but I saw room for improvement. I found that I would sometimes inadvertently leave out something I wanted to say, or I found it difficult to give a detailed answer in a short message on a forum or on a time-limited group call when there were many more questions to address. I also realized that a coach’s, counselor’s, or mentor’s time is extremely valuable, and because of that, it’s not financially feasible for everyone to have a personal coach.

I decided that answering these questions in a recorded format could be the next best thing to having a personal coach, and could be much more affordable for people who need guidance.

You definitely can’t put a price on freedom from bulimia and binge eating disorder because it’s worth any amount of money; but the reality is that binge eaters are often also struggling students, parents, caregivers, and people just trying to make it in this world, and I wanted to make coaching more accessible in the new version of my course. (The course also includes my coaching audios for encouragement, reinforcement, and motivation).

With that being said, here is a list of the questions you’ll receive detailed answers to in the course. Each Q&A audio is about 7 or 8 minutes long on average (some are longer, some are shorter).

You can listen to the two Q&A audios below that are marked with a * in the free course preview.
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*How much focus should I put on recovery?

Can you explain more about the word “dismiss”? Is it the same as willpower?

What does “don’t diet” mean?

Should I exercise during recovery? 

What if I’m taking medication to try to help me stop binge eating? 

I’m having a hard time defining my binges. How can I decide what is a binge and what is not?

I don’t feel like I get urges. My binges feel automatic. How can I dismiss urges if I don’t experience them?

I feel like there are deeper emotional reasons for my urges. What does that mean for recovery?

What do I do about all or nothing thoughts that seem to lead to binge eating?

What if I’m unhappy with my weight during recovery?

What is the purpose of journaling in the Brain over Binge approach?

What is the role of alcohol in binge eating? Should I drink alcohol while trying to recover?

Should I continue therapy?

How do I deal with others who are dieting?

Can you talk more about the lower brain and why it’s not really me, and how to separate from it?

I don’t seem to be able to eat sugar in moderation.  Should I give up sugar?

I’m overeating in a way that feels very similar to binge eating.  I feel like my overeating is almost as problematic as my binge eating, and it makes me feel out of control.

How can others that I’ve confided in about my binge eating best help me?

How long will it take for my binge urges to go away once I stop acting on them?

Is it okay to do something else during urges or should I avoid distracting myself?

Is it okay to eat or drink while I’m having an urge to binge?

My urge thoughts are compelling and I often end up believing them and acting on them.

What do I do if my urges keep coming back after I dismiss them?

I feel like I can’t allow myself to get excited about dismissing an urge or having another success in recovery.

I’m planning binges in my mind long before I’ll have an opportunity to binge. What do I do about thoughts that come well in advance of a binge?

I’m still reacting strongly to binge urges. The urges make me feel panicked and stressed, and it seems like a binge is the only thing that will calm me down.

Should incorporate mindfulness or meditation into recovery?

I’m having trouble getting past the idea that my binges are enjoyable. Even if I did not have urges, I think I would still choose to binge, if there were no consequences.

My urges get worse when I’m stressed. I know the urges cause the binge eating, but the stress seems to make it so much harder.

I binge more at night more than I do during the day.  How do I deal with nighttime urges to binge?

How are binge urges different from the binge triggers that I learned about in traditional therapy?

I only feel good when I’m a certain weight or when I look a certain way.

I’m grazing throughout the day and that’s leading to guilt, and binges.

How can I avoid a fear of relapse?

I do well on days that my life is relatively calm, but when I have a demanding work and family schedule, I find it so hard to dismiss urges.

How do I know if I’m having an urge to binge or if I’m just hungry?

I am working on ending the binge eating habit, but I need to lose weight.  How can I lose weight without triggering my survival instincts?

My desire to restrict food feels very strong.  How can I overcome this so that I can eat adequately?

I’ll eat dinner or another meal and then I just keep getting more and more food and I often end up bingeing. How do I find a stopping point when I eat?

Is it okay to eat healthy and avoid junk foods during recovery?

I’m having trouble stopping my purging behaviors.  How do I deal with urges to purge?

Thoughts of compensating for the binge (by restricting or purging) are encouraging me to binge.  How can I deal with these thoughts?

I’ll have a few good days, but then I seem to automatically slip back into restriction and binge eating. How can I have continued success?

How can I handle events where there is a lot of food?

I’m having a lot of trouble recognizing and deciphering my body’s signals of hunger and fullness. What should I do about this?

Fullness makes me feel anxiety and it also seems to triggers urges to binge, or binge and purge. How can I learn to deal with feelings of fullness?

I want to eat based on my hunger, but it often does not fit with my schedule or when my family is eating.

I don’t go into binges with the intention of bingeing.  I tell myself I’m just going to have one bite, but then I find myself bingeing.

I fear my hunger. I worry that when I’m hungry, I’ll binge.

Should I incorporate former binge foods into my diet, and how do I go about doing this?

Late in the day, I want the immediate gratification of a binge, and I don’t even care about the consequences.  How do I stay motivated at the end of the day?

Can I use a diet like keto, weight watchers, paleo, or intermittent fasting to guide my eating?

I’m bingeing or just eating in the middle of the night. How do I dismiss urges at this time?

I have a lot of anxiety about my weight.

I have a lot of black and white thinking, so I feel like when I don’t restrict, I binge.

I’m mindlessly overeating.  How do I stop myself?  Should I consider this behavior a type of binge?

I resist the work of recovery. Is it possible that I don’t actually want to quit binge eating?

Should I dismiss my desires to eat emotionally? How does emotional eating affect recovery from binge eating?

I feel like as I try to quit bingeing, my urges get stronger.  What can I do about this?

I’ve heard that food addictions can stem from problems with my neurotransmitters.  How can I overcome this?

How do I quickly overcome a setback?

How do highly processed foods affect binge eating and recovery?

What if I’m gaining weight during recovery?

How can I learn to accept my body?

I feel like my rational self wants to binge. What do I do when I feel like I’m choosing to binge?

Should I make a big resolution to never binge again? Or, should I just aim to reduce or delay binges and accept that slips are part of recovery?

I get more urges during PMS or when I’m feeling off hormonally or physically. What can I do about this?

My most convincing thought says it won’t hurt to binge “one last time.” How can I get past this thought?

Can I dismiss any thought that’s harmful to my recovery?

*Food is constantly in my thoughts. Even if I’m not having urges to binge, I’m incessantly thinking about eating.

After stopping the binge eating habit, I’m having other obsessive thoughts and also regrets about the time I lost to binge eating problems.

I clear my plate every time, even if I feel full. How do I learn to put the fork down when I’m full?

I’m eating less than the calorie recommendation of the Brain over Binge approach. Is this okay provided I’m not feeling restricted? Also, if I’m counting my calories to make sure I’m eating adequately, how long do I need to do this?

I stopped bingeing and purging (in the form of vomiting). I thought I would feel great and healthy, but I feel less energetic, fuzzy, and bloated. Will I feel better over time, or is this the new normal I should expect?

I feel in control and successful when I restrict, and I feel guilty and fat when I try to eat adequately, which usually leads me to just giving up and bingeing.

Will there be a point when I can consider myself healed, or do I need to constantly work on recovery? What are my chances of relapsing?

When I binge, I feel like I might be subconsciously self-sabotaging my recovery. Is it possible that I’m continuing to binge because I think I don’t deserve recovery?

Can I do a gentle diet for health reasons? For example, a weight loss eating plan crafted by a nutritionist to make sure I’m not hungry.

When I want a dessert or sweets or to snack when I’m not hungry, I don’t know if it’s me or my lower brain that wants it. How can I tell which cravings to follow and which ones not to follow?

How do I deal with others who are giving me bad advice, eating in front of me in ways that are not helpful, or constantly offering me food?

During the urge to binge, I’m telling myself “No, I don’t want to binge, “ or I’m telling myself “This is just an urge from my lower brain,” or “A binge is not an option,” or “The urge has no power to make me act.” Is it wrong to do this? When I tell myself things like this, does it mean I’m fighting the urge?

I’m having trouble finding things to do instead of binge. What are some ideas of alternative activities?

I know that dieting can lead to the initial development of binge eating, but can problematic cravings also lead to the development of bingeing?

What if I need to gain weight after stopping the habit?

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If you are ready to stop binge eating, you can try the free course preview and enroll.

Brain over Binge Course Preview

How to stop purging (podcast)

Episode 54: Stop Purging in Binge Eating Recovery: Interview with Ali Kerr

Binge eating weight obsession Katherine Thomson (podcast)

Episode 53: What Can Hold You Back in Binge Eating Recovery, Part 2: Weight Obsession (Interview with Katherine Thomson, Ph.D.)

Dieting and binge eating podcast

Episode 48: Q&A: How Do I Get Rid of the Dieting Mentality in Binge Eating Recovery?

exercise in binge eating recovery (podcast)

Episode 44: Q&A: Learning to Exercise in a Healthy Way (Tips for Recovering Binge Eaters)

Positive mindset binge eating recovery (Katherine Thomson)

Episode 35: Fostering a Positive Mindset in Recovery: Interview with Katherine Thomson, Ph.D.

How to stop purging Ali Kerr

Tips to Help You Stop Purging

If you’ve read my books or blog, you’ll know that I did not purge through self-induced vomiting (instead, I purged with excessive exercise and also with restrictive eating).  I fully realize that those of you who purge through self-induced vomiting face a different set of challenges in recovery.

Many of you have told me that the physical effects of stopping purging (such as bloating and other uncomfortable symptoms) make you want to binge and purge just to get “relief.”  Even though you know rationally that binge eating and purging is not a real solution for those symptoms and that it causes further damage to your health, when you feel so uncomfortable, it may seem tempting to get that temporary reprieve from bloating or other physical symptoms.  You may even be someone who has developed the habit of purging normal meals, and you are finding it difficult to stop, or you are concerned with what may happen to your weight if you stop.  

To address this issue I’ve reached out to Ali Kerr of Binge Code Coaching (formerly called HealED), who has personal experience with overcoming self-induced vomiting, and who has guided many others to do the same. Below is a guest post from Ali!


Are you ready to stop purging your food but find yourself worried about what will happen to your body when you do? Perhaps you’ve recently stopped or reduced purging episodes only to find that your body is swelling up, bloating, and gaining weight as a result?

As the founder of Binge Code Coaching, author of the bestselling books The Bulimia Help Method and The Binge Code, and a qualified Nutritional Therapist, I have coached hundreds of clients over the years who have experienced this same fear and resistance when it comes to giving up purging. Not only that, I have experienced this challenge first hand myself.

It takes an incredible amount of bravery to stop purging your food and to trust your body to adapt through this process. When we first stop purging we tend to experience overwhelming and intense “side-effects” which include:

Bloating of the stomach

Swollen hands and feet

An uncomfortable feeling of heaviness right through the body, and

A temporary increase in weight

These changes often leave us feeling defeated, confused and convinced that we will never recover without our weight rapidly spiraling out of control.

I remember believing that my body could not handle food anymore. I was also certain that I would end up becoming very overweight and regularly thought about purging again just to gain some relief. Yet despite these impulses to purge “just one last time,” I persevered with recovery, I stayed strong, and I did not purge. I found that within a month the bloating and other symptoms had significantly reduced. The same is true for my clients today, with most them noticing a significant reduction in bloating and other associated symptoms within the first 4-6 weeks of stopping purging.

Through my research I came to discover that the bloating and other challenging “side-effects” that we associate with the cessation of purging largely occur due to our bodies being in a state of chronic dehydration at the start of recovery. This means it’s important to give your body time (and permission) to go through these healing changes.

Here are my top five tips to help you through the initial stages of quitting purging:

1. Keep your body well hydrated

As strange as it sounds, ensuring that you drink at least 2-3 litres of fluid each day will help to reduce water retention. So, get into the habit of sipping water regularly through the day, take a bottle of water with you wherever you go, drink soothing herbal teas to aid digestion after meals, and try to incorporate lots of fresh fruits and vegetables into your meal plans as they are naturally hydrating.

2. Stop checking your weight

The majority of weight fluctuations that occur when we stop purging are the result of water weight and this can equate to rapid weight fluctuations. Seeing big changes on your scale early on in recovery may derail your recovery efforts. It would be such a shame for you to give up all hope because of a little temporary water weight, wouldn’t it?! So, see if you can make a pact with yourself to avoid stepping on the scale for the time being. It can help to move it out of your bathroom completely or to take out the batteries. If this feels intimidating, challenge yourself to go without checking the number one week at a time.

3. Commit to stopping purging no matter what

To overcome bloating and the other associated symptoms you may be experiencing right now you absolutely, 100%, must learn to stop purging completely. Tell yourself that even if you overeat, binge, or feel incredibly bloated, purging is no longer an option.

4. Avoid seeking out quick fixes for your bloating

There is tons of advice out there on how to reduce bloating. Generally, it involves imposing new strict food rules or trying diets that eliminate whole food groups at a time. Not only is this not recovery-friendly but it simply will not work. Understand that your body is bloating because you are beginning to heal from the effects of purging, you must give it the time it needs to do this. There are no quick fixes. It’s important to understand that while this bloating may feel uncomfortable or even painful, it’s not dangerous because all you are doing is re-learning how to do something that is completely natural and safe, which is eating and digesting food. However if you do experience intense, prolonged pain, discomfort or bloating that becomes worrying you should always consult your doctor.

5. Let go of any misconceptions you hold about “the benefits” of purging (hint: there aren’t any!)

While purging your food may have caused some temporary initial weight loss when you first developed your eating disorder, purging does not help you to lose weight in the long run. In fact, prolonged periods of purging cause metabolic changes that prompt your body to store more fat. Purging also increases the likelihood that you will binge and research proves the number of calories absorbed from a binge, even after purging, is greater than the number that would have been absorbed on a binge-free day. If anything, purging contributes to weight gain NOT weight loss!

Really, this boils down to trust. You need to trust that your body can handle the food, you need to trust that the bloating will not turn to fat, you need to trust that the discomfort will pass. Give your body time to heal (at least 4-6 weeks). Please, please, please be patient with your body and give it time to heal. A lifetime free from bulimia far outweighs a couple of weeks worth of feeling bloated.

If you would like some extra support and guidance on stopping purging, you can read our step-by-step guide to stopping purging.

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BIO

Alison Kerr (BA, Nutritional Therapist) is at the forefront of a groundbreaking revolution in eating disorder recovery. She is the founder and CEO of Binge Code Coaching (formerly called HealED), a wellness company that specializes in coaching people to break free from their food issues.

Alison is a best selling author of several books on overcoming binge eating and bulimia. A native of Scotland, her first book The Bulimia Help Method was published in 2014 and has become a best seller in its field. Her latest book The Binge Code is the culmination of ten years working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. Alison’s approach is unorthodox, engaging, fun and most importantly, effective. Learn more and get one-on-one support.