I want to preface this article with the fact that binge eating disorders (BED) are a serious medical issue. If you feel you suffer from BED, seek medical support for a defined plan.
Binge eating tends to follow a cycle. One I like to refer to as eat, repent, restrict, repeat.
Part of this cycle was one I learned from the book “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating: A Mindful Eating Program for Healing Your Relationship with Food and Your Body” by Michelle May, M.D.
It was the first book I had read when I started my journey with intuitive eating. It was incredibly eye opening.
Many of us don’t realize what a damaged relationship we have with food, body and mind. I’ve been feeling it’s my call to help others heal that relationship. And it all starts with knowledge.
Eat, Repent, Restrict, Repeat Cycle
Let’s first cover what exactly this cycle means.
It seems pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll dive into each section and then cover the two-step process to help you start to overcome this cycle and heal your relationship with food.
Binge Eating Cycle
As part of the ‘eat’ portion of this cycle, it seems pretty obvious. But as I was listening to a podcast the other day, the guest was talking about her binge eating, and it didn’t look at all what you may have thought it would look like.
That’s the thing, the eating part of this cycle looks different for everyone. But if we’re focusing more on binging, it can mean:
- eating large quantities when you’re not hungry
- emotional eating
- hiding what you eat from others
This part of the cycle essentially comes down to eating.
When I was really into Weight Watchers, I would binge eat on grapes, carrots, cucumbers, etc. All the “free” foods that I could eat.
I would then find myself sneaking cookies from the pantry. Or eating a slice of pizza out of the fridge. Trying to hide it from Burken, or sometimes, even myself.
On the outside, I looked like the epitome of health, but I was struggling on the inside.
This part of the cycle was really quite eye opening. Mainly because on a conscious level I didn’t really realize I was doing this.
On a subconscious level, I was constantly in the repent part of the cycle.
This part of the binge eating cycle is when you start to feel bad for what/how much you ate and feeling bad or guilty about it.
You repent by saying, I’ll be better tomorrow. I’ll make sure to get back on track tomorrow and follow my diet to a ‘T’.
No more cookies, pizza, full-fat foods, etc. I’m not going to eat anything bad and I’ll really buckle down.
I equate repenting to when I went to a Catholic grade school and high school and had to tell Father my sins.
In this case, you likely feel your sins are eating off plan, eating poorly over the weekend, or eating foods you shouldn’t. Feeling bad or guilty for binge eating.
So you’re always telling yourself you’re going to do better the next day or week. That you’ll get back on the wagon. Or you’ll do a cleanse.
Restrict in the Binge Eating Cycle
This is part of the cycle that I’ve added that really needs to be brought to light.
In the restrict phase of the cycle you’re very focused on “being good”. You’re not eating anything “bad” or that’s off your plan.
You’ve made a vow to yourself that you’re going to do better. Better probably means avoiding foods like pizza, pasta, bananas, avocados, full-fat foods, ice cream and more.
Restricting in the binge eating cycle is truly focused on not eating certain foods because you believe them to be bad for you.
It can also mean restricting the amount of food you eat. If you felt like you overate the date before, you may find yourself restricting how much food you can have the next day.
This part of the binge eating cycle is also pretty self-explanatory.
But the focus here is that as you continue to repeat this cycle, it can happen many times a day.
You eat a large dinner and you feel overly full. Maybe you decide to have ice cream after dinner anyway.
After the ice cream you decide that you shouldn’t have eaten it and you tell yourself you’ll get back on track tomorrow.
The next day you only have a smoothie, and a small salad for lunch. But by dinner you’re starving.
So you eat the same large dinner sending you back into repeating the whole cycle over again.
How to Heal the Binge Eating Cycle
So how do you begin to overcome and heal the binge eating cycle?
First – recognize that this cycle is happening in your life. Notice the moments where you’re hiding what you’re eating. Or you’re always telling yourself you’re going to do better.
Once you start to recognize, you can put stoppers in place to stop going around the same circle over and over.
One of the biggest stoppers is intuitive eating. Making the change from constant dieting, which leaves you perpetually in the eat, repent, restrict, repeat cycle.
You’re now focused on eating for your hunger and fullness cues. Also being focused on eating the foods that fuel you and make YOUR body feel good.
The binge eating cycle is consistently felt through dieting. Being told that certain foods are good for you, while others are bad. Thinking that you’re not doing a good job, or you’re not enough if you’re not following the diet plan to a ‘T’.
When you break free from the diet, you can learn to heal your relationship to food, body and mind.
Like I mentioned earlier, helping you heal that relationship has been a calling of mine. And why I created the Eat for Life Collective.
It’s your support hub to help you break the binge eating cycle and learn to eat not only to live, but how to have a healthy relationship with food, body and mind for life.
If you’re ready to truly stop the binge eating cycle, then come join Eat for Life Collective today.