There are many steps in breaking the chain of events which lead to bingeing. No matter where you break the chain it has the same effect: you will avoid binge eating. Whilst it is best to learn how to break the chain in the early stages, it doesn’t actually matter where you break it, so long as you do. Explore the different stages of the chain and find out how to overcome intense urges to buy binge food. This is an essential skill to learn if you want to overcome binge eating.
Dismiss the thought
Binge eating starts with a thought, whether or not you are aware of it. Learn about your triggers and how to manage cravings. To begin with your cravings may feel so overwhelming but if you learn not to respond to them, they will subside. Ultimately you will experience mild infrequent cravings which will no longer bother you like they once did, but this may take many months to achieve.
Photo by Sudhamshu
- Becoming aware of the thoughts that trigger your binge eating
- Discovering what triggers your cravings – sight, smell or thought
- Learning about the nature of cravings. They are like waves that peak and subside if you do not respond to them.
- Experimenting with delaying strategies that distract you while the craving naturally subsides. Make a list of all the things you could do for a 20 minute period
- Becoming aware of what physical things trigger cravings e.g tiredness, low blood sugar level or PMT
Make it harder
Do everything you can to make it difficult to pick up your trigger foods instantly. The longer it takes for you to get access to your binge foods, the more time you have for your positive recovery voice to intervene and remind you why you want recovery. Never keep binge food in the house.
Break the cycle
At any stage you can break the cycle. Listen to your healthy voice and dismiss the compulsive binge voice that tells you “just this once”, “tomorrow I will diet”, “one chocolate bar won’t hurt”. Answer these questions honestly. Will it really be just this once or is it more realistic to say that this pattern will continue until you stop responding to these types of thoughts. Does tomorrow ever come? – all you have is today. Diets don’t work; in fact they worsen binge eating!
You can break the cycle at any stage before you put your binge food into your mouth. Here are some ideas to help you think about what might work for you. Experiment and come up with some of your own solutions too. Break it down into different stages:-
Photo by Bettysnake
1. On the way to the shop
- Walk rather than drive. This will give you longer to change your mind.
- Take enough money to buy one bar of something only, not a whole carrier bag of binge food
- Ask someone to accompany you as you are less likely to buy vast quantities of binge foods
2. At the shop
- Turn around and go home before you enter the shop
- Avoid the binge food isles. Treat yourself to a magazine or bunch of flowers
- Remove trigger foods from your basket and return them to the shelf
- Tell the cashier that you no longer want your binge foods and ask them to return them
- Dump your binge foods in the bin outside the shop
3. On the way home
- Put your binge food in the boot of the car so you can’t reach them when driving
- Give them to someone else, asking them not to return them to you
- Stop at a bin and get rid of them
4. At home
- Cover ALL your binge food in fairy liquid so that they are completely destroyed and can’t be retrieved from the bin
- Give it to a neighbour or friend as a present
- Ask a family member to hide it from you
Progress not Perfection
Remember that it takes time to break the binge eating cycle. You won’t achieve instant success but will find it easier to break the cycle at earlier and earlier stages. Reward yourself with a non food treat for all the progress you have made. Don’t focus on what you have to left to achieve as this will become a negative thought process that is much more likely to lead you back into binge eating. Think of everything that you did right in order to break the cycle of buying trigger foods no matter what the outcome. Keep perservering and before you know it you will be well on your way to breaking this vicious cycle.