Do you try to come up with complex reasons for why you binge? You are not alone, and this is a common tendency in all bad habits. In this post, I want to help you shift your perspective in a useful way surrounding your reasons for binge eating, and also help you let go of those reasons.
To stop binge eating, you need to stop believing there is ever a reason to binge.
The brain will provide endless rationalizations for continuing the binge eating habit…until you realize it’s not telling the truth. Justifying habits is part of a universal pattern of the lower brain, and it’s important to know that as long as you are engaging in binge eating, the brain will never stop pointing to emotions, problems, or circumstances as reasons for your behavior.
This is not to diminish anything you’re struggling with, because we are all complex individuals, and no one’s life is simple. You have your own unique tendencies, personality, and history. There are likely some factors that led you into the binge eating habit in the first place, but once you realize it’s hurting you, trying to figure out all of the theoretical reasons is not an efficient use of time. Even if you solve for one reason, the brain will provide another and another, because its job is to maintain the habit. Instead, you can learn to dismiss any and all reasons, and take back control. (If you are new to the Brain over Binge approach, you can get my free eBook to help you get started).
What if my reasons for binge eating are valid?
Until this point, you may think I’m telling you to simply ignore your reasons, and to a large extent, that’s exactly what you need to do. But you may feel that there are certain issues which make it impossible for you to stop binge eating. For example, what if you believe you are acting compulsively because of another issue like ADHD or trauma?
There are definitely factors that can affect your ability to access self-control at times, and I always want you to be compassionate toward yourself for what you are facing. However, I want to challenge you to stop seeing any other issue as a “reason to binge,” and instead start seeing it as a “reason to get additional help in order to stop binge eating.” There are zero conditions that I’m aware of where binge eating is the recommended solution. So, even if you have another condition, get help for that condition, and don’t point to it as a reason to resign to binge eating.
In other words, believing that there is never a reason to binge includes solving for any reason you think is holding you back. Because the truth is, no matter what you are dealing with, binge eating is harming and not helping.
What if it’s helping me emotionally?
You may struggle to let go of emotional reasons for binge eating. Mainstream therapy and also the culture as a whole perpetuates the idea that binge eating is about meeting emotional needs or coping. It’s appealing to believe this, because when we are engaging in a behavior that feels so out of line with our true self, we naturally want to feel like that behavior “makes sense” in some way. Emotions are easy to blame because they are readily available; we are full of difficult emotions daily, and even on our good days, it’s always possible to point to an emotion as the reason.
This is not specific to binge eating. We all want to feel like we have deeper reasons for doing things that we know are destructive, and there’s certainly a place for self-analysis. But when you want to quit binge eating, it’s time to stop analyzing and to start believing that you can avoid the behavior no matter what. The reality is that binge eating does not actually help with emotions, it makes them worse in the long run, and gives you additional negative emotions. Binge eating increases shame, anxiety, depression, loneliness, despair, and fear. It also makes us less able to deal with the other problems in our lives. Even if binge eating brings some temporary distraction or escape from feelings in the moment of bingeing, it isn’t worth it.
Letting go of reasons for binge eating means letting go of the illusion that binge eating is doing anything truly helpful for you.
I understand that this can be a challenging mindset shift to make, and we’re here to help you along the way as you recover. You can use the resources below to get the support you need to free yourself from this source of pain.
One-on-one Coaching – Book a 45-minute private and highly personalized session with Kathryn or Coach Julie. You will learn to change your thinking, uncover what is holding you back, and get on a path to complete freedom from food issues.
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.
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.