You know how sometimes it’s not even noon but you know that you are going to have a binge when you get home from work that night? You begin planning it, thinking about what stores you’re going to go to, what foods you’re going to get, where you are going to eat it, what you’re going to do when you eat it, what it will feel like in your mouth, what you will be doing while you’re bingeing (will you be watching television? will you be searching the web? will you be on the phone? or will you just be sitting alone with the food?) You begin to get excited and your amygdala (the part of your brain responsible for emotional reaction) lights up with excitement. Just the anticipation and desire of a binge creates activity in your brain that basically brings you to the binge. So your actual binge starts about 6-8 hours before the binge starts. It’s those first thoughts about it, the anticipation which just carries itself and basically makes you feel as though you don’t have a choice. The thoughts of bingeing carry you straight to your binge.
So that’s where mindfulness and meditation come in. When you first have those thoughts and the pleasure center in your brain begins to light up with anticipation (it’s not unlike the process of flirting, or hooking up with someone pre-sex or orgasm), it feels as though it’s over. You’re going to binge. However, when you check in with yourself and say, “oh yeah, there are those thoughts again, I’m planning my binge…” you can slow yourself down. You can tell yourself that just because you are planning your binge, doesn’t mean that you have to go through with it. Just because the process part of the addiction has begun does not mean that you have to go through with it. Remember, this is the SAME EXACT function that cocaine addicts go through before they score their drug, it’s the same process that sex addicts go through when they are looking for a prostitute, it’s the same process that gambling addicts go through when they are selling their wedding ring for money to put in a slot machine.
So what we want to do here is slow your brain waaaayyyy down. Even though it’s just noon and you are at work in front of your computer, your mind is at home in the refrigerator.
So what can you do?
1. First, recognize “oh, I’m having THOSE thoughts again…”
2. Remind yourself, “I’m not in the middle of the binge yet, I’m right here at my desk.”
3. Ground yourself, look at your feet on the floor, look at your hands, put your hand over your heart and breath into your belly. Be where you are, not where your mind is taking you.
4. Remind yourself why you don’t want to be on the other side of the binge
5. Think about alternatives, think about what it would be like to wake up the next morning without a binge, let that process excite your mind
6. Plan something equally relaxing for that evening ie: date with friend, bubble bath, taking a long walk outside while listening to music or podcast
7. Call someone and tell them that you have a binge planned and you don’t want to go through with it.
8. Get on the secret Facebook group and ask for support. If you’re not on the secret Facebook group, email me at leora at bingeeatingtherapy dot com for access.
9. Remind yourself that you have a choice. It doesn’t feel like you do, but you do, the thoughts and the desire can’t make you binge, they are just thoughts and desire. You have thoughts and desires a million times a day that you don’t act on.
10. Calm your brain down and slow down your thinking with deep breathing and meditation.
Eating disorders are notoriously rough because they hit you on lots of different levels, process addiction, food/sugar addiction, trauma relief, bad habit… there are a million different reasons that people binge, but if you can bring some mindfulness into the equation, you have a great chance of recovering.
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