Dealing with the urge to binge

Your mouth waters in anticipation and you are already planning the supermarket trip, for all your favourite sweets. The urge to binge can feel overpowering and irresistible. Once the thought of binge-eating creeps into your mind, it can be extremely difficult to reverse your thinking, with a frenzy of eating feeling inevitable.

However, this behaviour and relationship with food can be tempered, and even halted, by becoming aware of your thoughts and then working to reframe them.

Here are five examples:

1. Everything has gone wrong

"I’ve already lost control, and everything is going wrong. I might as well binge and make a complete mess of everything".

Alternative:

"If I don’t binge now, I will feel so much better later on today. I am exaggerating when I say that everything is ruined. I can put the brakes on and say, ‘enough now’. 

It isn’t really true to say that everything is ruined. Every time I manage to halt a binge, this is another positive step forward in healing my relationship with food".

2. Craving sweet foods

"I haven’t had any sweet foods recently and I’m craving the taste".

Alternative:

"I’m allowed to eat these foods, as part of a balanced diet. I’ll only feel deprived if I try to cut them out completely. If I permit myself to eat small amounts of the things I love, such as cake and chocolate on a regular basis, then I’ll be far less likely to binge on these foods".

3. Boredom

"I’m bored out of my mind and don’t know what to do. Food is calling me and I know that it will make me feel better".

Alternative:

"I can deal with boredom in other ways, without turning to food. I’m not going to feel better in a couple of hours through binge-eating. In fact, I’ll probably feel physically ill and emotionally distressed. I can think about ways to self-care and distract myself to relieve the boredom".

4. Numbing feelings

"I feel upset and angry. Binge-eating will numb and distract from these feelings, so they’ll go away".

Alternative:

"Binge-eating may offer temporary relief, but this isn’t going to solve the problem, as the feelings will still remain afterwards. Can I allow myself to feel my emotions? What is it that I really need? I could always write in my journal or speak to a trusted friend".

5. "Feeling fat"

"I feel so fat anyway - I deserve to punish my body. I’m a complete loser, so why don’t I just punish myself and feel worse than ever".

Alternative:

"I know that feeling fat is often nothing to do with my body, but rather feelings underneath. I can explore what might be going on and may have triggered these feelings. Punishing myself never helps and severely impacts my mood and well-being. I do not want to do this anymore. I know deep down that my body deserves love and respect".

Changing your thoughts around bingeing can be a challenging process. Be kind, patient and compassionate with yourself, as you work on this. If binge eating is detrimentally impacting your life, you may benefit from speaking with a counsellor.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Harriet Frew

Harriet is a counsellor, writer and trainer working in eating disorders.
Instagram: @the_eating_disorder_therapist; Podcast - The Eating Disorder Therapist… Read more

Written by Harriet Frew

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