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i want to lose weight but i can't stop binge eatingQuestion: Submitted via email by Diane from New Mexico

Hello,
I am 26, female, 5’7″ and weigh 180lbs. I would like to be between
150-160. I am very active but struggle with Binge Eating at night.
Sometimes I throw it up when I’ve really lost control. I am so
distraught at the thought of living with this forever. It’s painful to
live in secrecy and have it interrupt my life. I need help, but am so
busy (2nd bachelor degree student full time, working part time and each
check is taken by bills). Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed but can
usually manage the stress. I am desperate to lose weight and stop binge
eating, I need to lose weight for the military too but can’t seem to
“get a grip.”
Do you have any advice? I need help but don’t know what is going to
work. I’ve talked to a few counselors and only one session with a
specialist (can’t afford). I will continue to purge as long as I binge
because 30lbs is excruciating. I have found books help but it is
difficult right now during my hardest semester. I should be studying
right now!!! I ALWAYS fall back on binging. I hate it, it makes me cry.
Anything at all is appreciated.

Sincerely,
Diane

Answer:

Hi Diane,

Thank you so much for your question. I’m so sorry that you’re struggling the way you are. It sounds like  you are having an  extremely difficult time right now.

I think that it is great that you are currently seeking support via therapy or counseling. It’s understandable that an ED (eating disorder) specialist might be too expensive for you.  Have you looked into student services? Often the therapists available to college students have some training in EDs and usually they are free. If there are none available with specific ED training, that’s still okay. Understand that your eating disorder is a symptom of your stress, anxiety and everything else that your going through and as you work through all those emotional issues, you will find it easier to beat your eating disorder.

1.)Don’t live in secrecy anymore. You are absolutely not alone. Millions of women and men suffer from binge eating disorder and bulimia. Find out free support groups in your area such as overeaters anonymous or eating disorders anonymous or ANAD. You might find that you get a great deal of support from other people who are dealing with similar issues as you are.

2.)Get rid of your scale. Do not let an electronic or mechanical piece of equipment on the floor dictate what kind of a day you are going to have. It’s not fair to allow the numbers on the scale to tell you how you should be feeling about yourself. You might find some liberation and freedom from not weighing yourself.

3.)The idea of losing 30 pounds is very overwhelming. Rather than having a number in mind, try to reframe your perspective from, “i need to lose weight” to “I want to be healthy and feel good about myself.” Weighing yourself, bingeing and purging certainly have not helped you to feel good about yourself or healthy. However, adopting healthy habits just might.

4.)Set one mini goal for yourself each day. Such as:

Today I’m going to eat three fruits

Today I’m going to drink 8 cups of water

Today if I get the urge to binge, I’m going to call someone or get online for support.

5.)Give up dieting. For most people, dieting doesn’t lead to weight loss, it leads to compulsive dieting and binge eating. When you restrict what you are eating, there is a part of you that will lash out against the restrictions and binge.

6.)Start every single day with breakfast. Having three solid meals each day significantly reduces the instance of binge eating. Don’t worry about yesterday and don’t try to compensate for the day before. You can’t go backwards, you can only go forward. So go forward as a “normal eater.”

7.)It seems like you do a lot of your binge eating and purging in the evenings when you should be studying. Procrastination is an amazing trigger for binge eating. Here is a previous blog post I wrote on this exact subject.

8.)On a practical level, get all of your binge foods out of your house. If you notice that there are particular foods that you binge on, clean out your cabinets and refrigerator and have mostly safe foods in your house. When you are studying and tired, it’s hard to make good choices when all the temptations are right in front of you. Keep lots of healthy non trigger foods in your house.

9.)Be kind and compassionate toward yourself. When you binge eat, remember that this is an indication that you are going through a hard time and need something like self love, or compassion or kindness. Binge eating is a symptom. When you binge eat, it’s probably because there is something challenging going on in your life. The irony is, that when you binge eat, you are sending a signal to yourself that you need love and compassion, not anger and punishment.  Yet, when people binge, they tend to berate themselves rather than give themselves the compassion and soothing that they need. That of course begins a horrible cycle of bingeing, self punishing and self hatred and then bingeing again to diffuse the self abuse. If you find yourself in your behaviors, try to stop and ask yourself why. Ask yourself what it was that you were actually needing and trying to give yourself when you binged. See if it might be possible to give yourself that.

Thanks so much for your question. I hope that you find something here  helpful for you.

Warmly,

Leora

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location.

 

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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."
  • I strongly agree with giving up dieting and the whole diet mentality. There are some amazing books available for people with eating disorders. I used to binge eat at night a lot, too. For me, it was about trying to be “good” during the day (i.e. restrict), but by night time I was hungry, stressed and feeling the need for comfort.

    You might also consider checking out Something Fishy Website for Eating Disorders. There are bulletin boards and tons of info: http://www.something-fishy.org

  • Veronica Simmons

    Thank you both so much for posting and having a response to this. As I read this, I found myself agreeing with every word. I binge when I procrastinate, when I’m stressed about situations in my life, and sometimes when I’m simply bored. I tried eliminating the bad foods in my presence, but I live on campus in college and its hard now that my roommate brings in temptations. I have to loose my weight, and I feel like I’ve been struggling my whole life, even though I haven’t ever been technically “overweight”. I probably have some form of body dysmorphic disorder. I feel like I’m trapped in a whirlwind of yo-yo dieting and throwing up when I’ve gone over board (as Diane mentioned). I’ve been meaning to seek counseling, but I usually just end up starting a new diet right before and sticking to it for about a week before the whole cycle repeats. I’ve told friends and family but I don’t think they believe it’s so serious. Hopefully, I will be able to get help soon, and take control of my life.

    -Veronica