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fight the urge to binge eat“Just because I want it doesn’t mean I have to have it. ”

Is a mantra that can be tremendously helpful in fighting binge eating. So often, people believe that they need to satisfy their urges immediately. And why not? We live in a world where instant gratification is the norm. The media sells directly to our compulsive sides because the feeling of wanting can be painful.  It is okay to want. But just because you want, just because you have an urge or an itch doesn’t mean you have to satisfy it. You can be in the wanting. Fortunately, when the wanting is  about food it is one of the easiest wantings to get past.

It’s heartbreaking to want to be with a certain person who rejects you.

It’s heartbreaking to want a child when you’re unable to have one.

It’s heartbreaking to want your mother to be alive again.

It’s not heartbreaking to want a whole  cheesecake or a gallon of ice cream. That want is fleeting. However, it’s a want that is very, very easy to satisfy.

That being said, of course people often eat when they are wanting something else that they can’t have. For instance, sometimes, when people want something like  money, a partner, a child, love from a parent, they will eat. They can’t satisfy the real want, but the want for food can be easily placated. Unfortunately, after the want of food is satisfied, the other want remains, and you still must learn to live with the pain of yearning after something that you have no control over.

Next time you find yourself in a place of wanting to binge eat or binge and purge, remind yourself “Just because I want it doesn’t mean I have to have it,” and just sit with that for a little while. You might find that it wasn’t actually food that you were craving.

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Most recent quote from community member: "Unbelievable progress. I had a slice of cake, wasn't that fussed about it and moved on. Cake is just cake! I never thought I'd get to this place. I keep thinking back to an earlier meditation when all the negative energy left down through my feet. That was really powerful. I'm planning to play it again. I've also drawn up a weekly meal plan of healthy balanced meals. This just helps to give me a bit of guidance and planning and eliminates any need for impulsive decisions when I often feel stressed after work. Amazing, thank you so much. I always hoped for hope, but n ow I feel like I'm living hope! I'm so grateful Leora. Thank you."
  • M

    Thanks! I am going to try that the next time I want to eat and I am not hungry. I will also just sit and feel the emotion.

  • Sandi

    Beautifully said. That’s something I struggle with on a daily basis and it’s so helpful to have some perspective on it.

  • When I was starting recovery from my binge eating disorder, one of the most liberating things someone told me was “Food never leaves you”. It tied so much into my abandonment issues, and I really put 2 + 2 together and saw how my eating disorder and binge cravings were about not feeling abandoned.

  • I was looking at this article again and hope more people see it. Discovering that food isn’t necessarily what you really wanted is an eye-opening journey.

  • hi, I’m on a binge right now, and I feel like throwing up the choolate I’m actually putting in my mouth, but I know I won’t. hope the chocolate is the last food today

    • Leora Fulvio

      I’m sorry that you’re going through this. But i’m happy that you stopped to write a comment. Sometimes the act of doing something different can actually interrupt the binge so that you can make a choice to have a different action.

  • Elizabeth

    …what about those of us for whom food really IS what we want?

    I started to binge after years and years of extreme food restriction undertaken due to hypothyroidism. Decades of sensory deprivement have left me ravenous for stimulation, and now I’m in such a state that it seems impossible to stop. YES, just because I want it DOES mean I HAVE TO have it- that’s why it’s called a disorder. If I had the ability to stop myself (I just spent the last dime to my name on oatmeal creme pies) then I wouldn’t be seeking support- I’d just be another person with a cutesy food craving, as opposed to a sick person with food COMPULSIONS.

    • Leora Fulvio

      Yes, exactly, when you are having compulsive behavior, you need support (in the form of individual therapy, support group, 12-step group) or otherwise to help deal with the behavior around binge eating.
      In treating compulsive behavior, we manage the behaviors around the compulsions. In cognitive behavioral therapy, we manage the thoughts that lead to the behaviors. In truth, you don’t have to do the behavior. You only have the belief that you have to do the behavior. If you had to do the behavior, then without it you’d die. You have to breath to live, but you don’t have to binge, you only believe that you have to. If you can learn to manage the belief by reminding yourself that it’s a compulsion or a cognitive distortion, that’s it’s not real (even though it feels real) then you can begin to fight with that urge.
      In treating compulsive behaviors, we don’t get rid of the compulsion, we work with the behaviors that are a result of the compulsion. Medication can help with the actual compulsive thinking, but learning how to react to the thoughts are what can help control them. Alcoholics don’t quit drinking because they’ve lost the urge. They work with the urge and go to meetings and talk through what they’re feeling and get support from others in the same boat to stay sober. Same with food recovery. For those who cannot stay sober with outpatient treatment, who are unable to see past the compulsion or reject it in any way, medication and residential treatment might be the more realistic way to get clean.

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