Stopping a Binge

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Q & A: Stopping a Binge

Q: What can I do to stop myself from bingeing once I’ve started?

A: Many recovering binge eaters and bulimics say that stopping themselves in the middle of a binge is an empowering and exhilarating accomplishment. It affirms that recovery is more important than holding on to the comfort of disordered eating.

Usually, someone begins a binge by eating more food than is “allowed” accompanied by thoughts like “I may as well go through with it since I’ve already gone this far.” This thought triggers a series of automatic behaviors that seem to have immediate emotional payoffs, such as quieting the mind of its negative self talk, numbing painful emotions, and inducing a physical “high.” It is easy to see why, once started, this process is difficult to stop.

It has been said that you can’t give up something if you don’t have something else to put in its place. My suggestion is to make a list of things-to-do instead of bingeing, that you can post on your refrigerator, carry with you, or keep in a handy place. Then USE IT! One person I know made “panic cards” to carry in her purse.

So, if you want to stop a binge, make a list of things you think might work for you. This may include leaving the environment that’s tempting you—by going to a park, library, or other “safe” place—or calling a supportive friend.

Some people who have recovered suggest soaking the food in water or putting it down a garbage disposal, especially if you bought it specifically for a binge. Set a kitchen timer for 5 minutes to give yourself a little time to resist the urge and do some deep breathing. Then, allow yourself a few minutes to face the feelings you are having. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling? Am I safe? Can I handle this?”

Write in your journal. Punching a boxing bag, screaming in a pillow, even zoning out in front of the television might be just what you need to stop that the binge cycle. And if you can do it once, you can do it again.

Reprinted with permission from Eating Disorders Recovery Today
Fall 2003 Volume 2, Number 1
©2003 Gürze Books

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