I found myself here with lots and lots of practise at developing an awareness of myself, my thoughts, my feelings, my triggers, understanding the emotional need I was trying to fill with food and eventually working on resolving the true underlying emotional and self-esteem issues that kept me feeling like an out of control, deprived victim with binge eating.
There is no right or wrong way to find freedom from binge eating – but it must be Your Way.
You will be surrendering all external attempts at control and going with Your Flow – not your best friends flow, not your dietician’s flow and not your international eating guru’s flow either. Real freedom cannot be found on pieces of paper or intellectualised in any way. It must be experienced first hand by the individual and the process is actually a kind and gentle one, which is in stark opposition to the way we usually treat ourselves with food.
In freeing ourselves, we cannot be told what to do or what to eat because this is just another way of disempowering ourselves and looking outside ourselves for answers. The message we feed ourselves in this process is a loud and clear “I can’t be trusted. Just tell me what to do because I’m hopeless and I don’t know”. And we disconnect.
A natural human response to being told what to do is to rebel. And so we lay our own foundations for lots more rebellious eating to follow. This doesn’t make any sense on a logical level, but we are not logical beings, we are emotional, feeling beings and we need to find a way to work with our feelings, rather than against them (by avoiding them as we do). We need to embrace them with kindness.
When we begin to trust ourselves and our feelings, we reconnect with our bodies. When we use our intuition, honour our hunger and respect our bodies as the house we live in, we will surely create dramatic changes within. This change then flows on to showing up externally, as it is a reflection and long-term side-effect of all the internal work you are doing on yourself. Weight loss cannot be your sole goal; for while ever it is, it will never happen in a sustainable way. There is no willpower required with this approach, just the WILLINGNESS to trust yourself through this process.
A key piece of research that helped me understand that none of my binge eating was actually my fault (as in, it wasn’t conclusive proof that I was a weak-willed, useless, fat failure) was something I discovered through the EDA called The Minnesota Experiment. Please Google it and find out for yourself that every time we binge, it’s not our fault. Every time we restrict our food (or diet), it’s only a matter of time before we end up losing control and overeating as a normal, healthy, biological, survival response. This is an expected outcome of dieting and has been known since 1944 – but no weight loss organisation will ever tell you that.
Head researcher of this study, Professor Ancel Keys, proved that other normal, natural human responses to dieting are depression, mood swings, tiredness, lethargy, angry outbursts, loss of libido, obsession with food and weight, a narrowing of interests, loss of humour and spontaneity, self-contempt when we do break our diet as well as weight gain – and for some people, a much higher risk of developing an eating disorder.
There are a few guidelines I can share with you to help you on your journey to freedom:
* Let go of all forms of dieting – dieting is what causes us to binge eat in the first place. Extreme dieting causes extreme bingeing.
* If it has taken a few years to develop a hard-core diet mentality that’s all about deprivation and scarcity, give your self the time and space it takes to replace that with a mentality of abundance, comfort and safety around food.
* Practise trusting yourself, practise eating in response to your body’s hunger, practise listening to your body, practise resting when your body is tired.
* Try self-compassion instead of self-contempt. It’s a pointless waste of emotional energy beating ourselves up when we do binge. Practise observing your own behaviour without judgment. I started saying to myself: "Ok, so I’ve eaten a lot of food right now, I don’t understand why I did that, but on some level my body needed that food and I allowed myself to have it."
* Take on more personal responsibility for your own life, no one else in the world can do this for you. Seek whichever form of therapy helps you to heal – a cute saying I read recently is “Face your stuff or stuff your face.” Healing is always our choice and the body is a powerful healer, it will heal anything if we want it to.
* Understand that whenever we binge, it is always an attempt at self-soothing. We need to pay attention to the feelings we were attempting to soothe. There is an emotional need that is aching to be filled and we keep turning to food for answers.
* Looking within with a great deal of honesty and a touch of vulnerability will provide all the answers we need, if only we can allow ourselves to go there.
It can be absolutely terrifying to feel our feelings for a few intense seconds instead of numbing them with food, but what’s the alternative? A lifetime of binge eating and feeling out of control? No thank you. I chose freedom and I haven’t once looked back over my shoulder and wished that I could again be binge eating. The pain of change has always been worth the effort.
I have thirteen years personal experience with eating disorders, which I obtained from the University of Life. I have never completed any formal training through commonly recognized channels - and this is my point of difference. I have been providing counselling and running workshops for people with eating issues since 2003. I pride myself on being a human being, and someone who is using her personal experience to help others, instead of having it use me. Please check the side bar to your left for details of my professional experience.
To assist people in transforming their relationship with food, feeding your self-esteem from the inside out.