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

Starting over in binge eating recovery (podcast)

Episode 58: Rethinking Day 1 of Binge Eating Recovery (Part II)

Day 1 of binge eating recovery (podcast)

Episode 57: Rethinking Day 1 of Binge Eating Recovery (Part I)

Affordable Help Binge Eating Recovery

Affordable Help: An Alternative to One-on-One Coaching

If you’ve read my blog posts or listened to my podcast, you’ve likely heard about my Course. The course will be starting soon (at the time I’m publishing this post), but instead of just listing the features and benefits, I want to talk from the heart a little about this course.

I wrote Brain over Binge thinking that if I could just help one person, it would be worth all the time and effort I put in. I feel humbled every day that the book has helped thousands, and I continue to get frequent emails saying that the book has changed a person’s life and they are done with binge eating.

I also get emails with questions and requests for more personalized help, beyond what’s in my two books; and over the years, my desire to help just one person has grown into a desire to free as many people as possible from this habit. As an extremely busy mom of 4, I’ve discovered that one-on-one coaching isn’t the right fit for my life at this time, and I am able to help more people in a one-to-many format. The course and the podcast have been ways for me to do that. (I realize many people still want that one-on-one help, which is why I’m now referring people to HealEd if they decide private coaching is the best way forward).

The Course has changed format this year, but I want to talk about how the current course has taken shape and how it offers an affordable alternative to private coaching. Although it does not provide one-on-one help or group coaching, the course has shown to be a powerful form of guidance.

In this course, I answer nearly every question I’ve been asked since publishing Brain over Binge in 2011. I’ve always kept notes of common questions that I received through email, and concerns that came up frequently in one-on-one coaching, and issues that people tended to struggle with when the 8-week course was in a group format. I’ve seen so many common themes and common areas where most people need some advice; and since I’m only one person, I decided it would be more helpful to consolidate all of my answers, insights, suggestions, and experiences, and record these responses. This went from an idea to a mission that I poured my heart and soul into and that took up much of my life for months. The result was over 80 Q&A recordings that are now part of the course. The course itself includes over 13 hours of audio, and the Q&As make up the majority of that time.

Just like with my books, what’s made it worthwhile is to hear from people who have benefited from the Q&A’s. Here is just one quote from a member of the June 2019 course:

“The Q and A’s were unbelievably helpful. Thank you, thank you. I feel completely confident that I’ll remain binge free for the rest of my life because, for the first time, I have the tools for ongoing recovery.”   

Now, I also want to share the other side of this, in order to help you make a decision that’s right for you. The one negative response I got about the Q&As through a survey was that it felt impersonal to have audios to listen to instead of a person to talk to. That’s a completely valid concern, and if you are someone who does better talking to someone directly and getting feedback, then private coaching might absolutely be the right fit.

I’m sure you already know that private coaching (and even group coaching) can be very expensive. It is definitely valuable to have a coach to talk to, and I’m not trying to discourage anyone from doing that. But if private coaching isn’t feasible for you, or simply doesn’t feel like the right fit right now, I hope my course can be the next best thing…and, for people who are more introverted (like me:-)) and hesitant to talk about their problems with others, it may even be the best thing.

I want everyone to get the help they need regardless of cost, and that especially applies when medical and nutritional interventions are necessary. However, for those who are stable physically and who are not suffering from severe and complicating mental health conditions, I hope my course can provide guidance in a refreshing and effective way.

I think back on my own recovery, and despite the thousands of dollars my parents and I spent on therapists, what ultimately led me toward recovery was a $12 book in 2005 (Rational Recovery). But, many people feel like they need more than a book (whether it’s mine or someone else’s), and that’s perfectly okay because everyone is different.

The Course can be a next step that is still affordable but provides so much extra guidance. When this course was in a group format, it was $399, but since I replaced the group calls and the Facebook forum with the 80 Q&A audios, the course is less than half of that price ($179).

You can learn more about the other features of the course. I hope you will consider if this is the right opportunity for you, and if you sign up, I hope the course leads you to a binge-free life.

To end this post, I want to share one more testimonial from a former course member:

“This course hit the mark on so many fronts. It was well organized and easy to use. I loved all of the audio recordings, including the informational Q&As. Most importantly, it spoke to me and helped me to solidify my decision to stop bingeing. Every week I learned something new that deepened my resolve to quit bingeing and enhanced my understanding of this terrible habit. Thank you Kathryn! This course was a wonderful addition to your two books.”

Childhood issues binge eating therapy (podcast)

Episode 56: Focusing on Childhood Issues in Therapy for Binge Eating

Trauma, depression, and binge eating recovery podcast

Episode 45: Trauma, Depression, and Binge Eating Recovery (Interview with Maria Marklove)

What makes binge eating recovery work

What Makes Recovery “Work”? Part III (You Don’t Need to Work so Hard)

This is the 3rd and final post in my blog series, “What Makes Recovery Work?”.  In Part I, I talked about expectations surrounding what it means for a recovery method to work.  In Part II, I discussed the work you personally need to do in recovery, which is to dismiss each urge to binge (and also eat enough food).  Now in Part III, I want to talk about eliminating unnecessary work in recovery.

When I was in therapy for binge eating, it felt like I had a lifelong journey of work ahead of me in order to stop the harmful behavior and then to maintain my recovery.  But, since then, I’ve seen that it’s not necessary to work so hard to put aside the binge eating habit.

I know you aren’t afraid of doing work; I know you aren’t expecting recovery to be effortless; and I know you are willing to do what it takes to stop your binge eating. Working hard is certainly not a bad thing, but if right now, you feel that your hard work hasn’t gotten you closer to freedom from binge eating, you may be doing work that isn’t actually targeting the binge eating problem.

Commonly, in traditional eating disorder therapy, the work that is required has to do with managing emotions, healing pain from your past, and learning to cope better with daily stress. This is meaningful work that can help improve your life, but if it isn’t helping you avoid acting on the binge urges, it’s not helping with the binge eating specifically.

It can be baffling when you feel you are doing all of the hard work that therapy requires and you are still binge eating.  If you find yourself in this situation, you may understandably start to look for something else to work on, and then something else after that.  This can lead to a constant state of trying to find another problem to solve, or something else within yourself to fix, hoping it will eventually put an end to your binge eating.

You may also be working on improving and fixing the way you are eating, thinking that will get rid of the binge episodes.  You may be trying to create the perfect meal plan, or trying to adhere to strict eating guidelines, so you may be working hard every day measuring, counting, and weighing your food intake.  Additionally, you could be going through a lot of trouble to avoid certain foods that you believe are problematic or addicting, or you may be trying to research nutrition and take all of the right supplements.

Although improving your eating in ways that feel good to you is a positive thing, and although it’s certainly important to make sure you eat adequately, it’s possible you are putting a lot of unnecessary time and energy into your eating plan, without it making much of a difference in your binge eating.  It can feel like a never-ending quest when you are always looking for something else to fix or change about your diet, hoping that will put a stop to the binges.

If you think a lot of hard work is required for recovery, it only makes sense that you would keep looking for something else to solve or fix, whether that’s in your life, your relationships, your personality, your emotions, or the way you are eating. It’s admirable, and shows determination and resilience.  But, I know how frustrating it feels when it seems like no matter what you work on, you still end up binge eating.

What if working harder in recovery is not the answer?

It is my belief that no matter how much you improve your life, your emotional state, your relationships, your ability to cope, or the way you are eating, binge urges will still inevitably come up.  Even if you work very hard in all of those areas, you’ll still be left with the fundamental work of recovery: not acting on the binge urges.

To stop acting on the binge urges, what if less work is actually more effective?

I had a conversation with Dr. Amy Johnson on my podcast last week, and part of what we talked about was how just seeing your binge eating habit differently can allow change to occur without the struggle or without needing to work so hard. When you have a fundamental shift in the way you view your urges and respond to them, it suddenly seems unnecessary to sort out and deal with all of your other problems or have a perfect eating plan in order to stop binge eating.

So, instead of thinking “what other problems and difficult emotions can I work on in recovery?”, you can change your mindset and think, “how can I work on developing a new perspective about the urges and respond to them differently?”

Ending binge eating doesn’t need to feel like intense, complicated, or tedious work. The work can simply be you deeply seeing that the urges do not express your true wants and needs, and then learning to connect with your own power to avoid acting on them.

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If you want help in increasing your ability not to act on binge urges, and you are new to the Brain over Binge approach, you can get started with my free eBook.

If you want extra guidance in making recovery work for you, you can learn more about the Brain over Binge Course which includes 17 hours of informative, practical, and encouraging audios (and an audio to help support and empower you when you are experiencing an urge to binge).

Brain over Binge Course

What works to end binge eating

What Makes Recovery “Work”?

I know a life free of binge eating is completely possible for you, but if you are like many binge eaters who I’ve spoken to over the years, you may have a hard time believing that right now.  You may have searched for years for a cure, for something to “work,” for it all to just click so that you will no longer binge.  You may feel exhausted and frustrated by the search.

You may be someone who has already read my books, and you could be thinking that the method I used “worked” for me rather quickly, so it should be the same for you.  You may believe that if the concepts from my books do not work right away, then you need to look for a new approach that will work.  It is certainly possible that another approach may be a better fit, but if you are someone who has jumped around from one approach to another, I want you to take a minute to think about what you believe makes a recovery method “work.”

If you are holding the common belief that a recovery method only works if it gets rid of your binge urges right away, or at least very quickly, this could create some problems for you in recovery.  If ‘getting rid of the urges right away’  was the measure of a successful recovery method, then the Brain over Binge approach actually didn’t work for me either.

Seeing my binge urges as meaningless, powerless, and harmless neurological junk from my lower brain didn’t make those urges go away right away, or even all that quickly. The new mindset I had changed how I perceived my urges, and it rather dramatically made me feel my own ability not to act on them.  But, the urges were still there for a while.

I had to avoid acting on every binge urge until they did completely go away – about 9 months from the time I adopted my new approach.  Not once during those 9 months did I think “this isn’t working.” The reason for this was that I defined success not by whether or not I had urges, but by my ability not to act on them.

In the beginning of recovery, the binge urges came frequently…and I wasn’t perfect.  There were two times when I did act on the urge. The first time, I heard those familiar, lower brain reasons why I should binge, I felt the familiar craving, and I mistakenly thought it was the real “me” who wanted to binge, and I acted on it.  The second time I binged, I had much more awareness of what I was doing, but ultimately, I did still act on the urge.

When I acted on those two urges, I didn’t proceed to throw out the principles that I’d learned, because they didn’t “work.” I realized that in those specific instances, I had not applied what I’d learned, and I had simply followed the urges.  I did not think that I’d failed or that I needed a new approach.  I recognized that I had the power to avoid acting on the very next urge and to keep my recovery going.

During those 9 months of having urges but not acting on them, I never wished the urges away or took their presence to mean something was wrong.  I believe this was a big component of what allowed the approach to be effective.

My own recovery and my experience helping others has led me to believe this:

What makes recovery “work” is not what works to take your urges away.  It’s what works to help you not act on them.

No matter what approach you use, the crux of recovery comes when you have a thought, feeling, or impulse encouraging you to binge, but you don’t.

When you are able to do that over and over, your brain changes, the urges gradually do go away, and your binge eating habit is erased.

Go to What Makes Recovery Work, Part II

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If you want help in increasing your ability not to act on binge urges, and you are new to the Brain over Binge approach, you can get started with my free eBook.

If you want extra guidance in making recovery work for you, you can learn more about the Brain over Binge Course, which includes 17 hours of informative, practical, and encouraging audios (and an audio to help support and empower you when you are experiencing an urge to binge).