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.