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

weight end binge eating

Ep 97: Non-Weight Motivations for Ending Binge Eating

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.

Embracing Imperfection Binge Eating Recovery

Ep. 93: Embracing Imperfection (with Coach Julie)

Episode 92 Best of the Podcast New Year's

Ep. 92: Best of the Podcast, New Year’s Edition

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.

I Don't Know How to Eat

Ep. 86: Stop Thinking “I Don’t Know How to Eat”