Binge Eating Disorder Recovery & Tips
Binge eating is something that has been a part of my life for nearly a decade. I first remember developing this problem and having a bad relationship with food when I was 14. If you’ve followed me for a while, you probably know I’ve dealt with disordered eating for many years now.
It first started with seemingly harmless calorie restricting, then by the time I was 16, I was really deep into anorexia. It was one of those situations where I feel like everyone kind of knew it but no one said anything because I seemed fine, and I never told anyone anything was wrong. Anyways I eventually recovered from that on my own, but it’s important to mention that because it’s what caused many of my problems with binge eating.
When you don’t eat any food, sometimes for days, your body obviously craves food more than anything. It was so dangerous for me because when I let myself eat, I’d eat everything and I wouldn’t stop until I psychically couldn’t fit anymore inside me. Then I’d restrict for a few days again until my body couldn’t take it anymore and binged again. It’s a really vicious cycle that’s sooo hard to get out of.
Binge Eating VS Overeating
There are many people who don’t understand the concept of binge eating. I think a lot of people just view it as the same as overeating. The thing is, binge eating is an actual eating disorder - that’s why it’s called binge eating disorder. It’s very similar to bulimia, the main difference is that people with binge eating disorder like myself don’t throw up. This could be for a variety of reasons, but since we can’t throw up the food, restriction and over exercising are usually huge problems. For me, it was restriction. After a binge I’d starve myself for as long as I could until the same thing happened.
I’ll quickly go over the difference between binge eating and over eating for those who don’t know. Over eating is when you eat an extra cupcake or two, or have an extra plate at dinner even though you’re already full. You snack on a few more cookies than you should, or something like that. Binge eating is a complete loss of control around food. You eat anything and everything. You don’t eat 2 extra cookies, you eat 2 entire packs of cookies. For me, I’ve never binged on non-vegan food because I don’t view animal products as food, but I do know that some people struggle with that.
Binge eating doesn’t have to be on junk food - it can be on anything from bread to potatoes. It’s definitely easier to binge on junk food though. So with binge eating, you eat and eat and eat, it’s like you’re in a trance and you just can’t stop no matter how much you tell yourself to or how much you want to. And then you only stop when you’re in so much pain and psychically can’t eat anymore. Your stomach gets soooooo stretched so you’re always able to eat more and more. After a binge, at least for me personally, you literally can’t do anything except for lay in bed in so much pain wanting to die and wondering why you did that, only for the exact same thing to happen tomorrow.
With bingeing, you’re bloated 24/7 and your digestion gets so much worse because your body now has an overload of food it has to digest. It’s just really hard on everything and can lead to long term damage. Recovery is possible though, if you’re dealing with this! It’s going to be hard and you’re going to have relapses and it can take months, but it is possible. Even though I’m not fully healed, I just know this.
My binges now aren’t nearly as bad as they were a couple years ago and I am much more in control now. Here’s a list of a few things that have helped me binge less with some added tips that might help others.
20 Tips For How To Binge Less
Don't label yourself (raw vegan, whole foods vegan, starch solution, etc.) If you eat vegan, the only label I’d recommend putting on yourself is “vegan” or “plant based.”
Don't restrict yourself with any foods you want to eat. If you want a cookie, eat a cookie, otherwise you might eat the whole box later. Sometimes moderation really does work! And don’t force yourself to eat all raw foods or all healthy just to heal - having a veggie burger or a pizza once in a while can prevent large binges down the road.
Move in with your boyfriend or close friends - maybe not family. For me, my binging always got better when I was living with people because it’s harder to do. My binges happened at night, so at home it was easy to do when everyone was sleeping. Sometimes it’s harder when you’re living with a boyfriend or friend since you’re with them most of the time.
If you’re in college, get a job. I had 3 jobs during college and this helped me significantly with bingeing less since I was always busy and out of the house.
Stay out of your house as much as possible if you’re renting. Binges normally happen at home, so try and go out to avoid this. I lived in the library at college because I couldn’t binge there and it was just a nice peaceful place, plus they’re usually open really late. Bring a book or your laptop and go to your favourite cafe, just try and get out of your house.
Premake meals in advance. This is absolutely vital, at least for me. If I have healthy meals prepared in the fridge I’m less likely to binge. I always cook a huge batch of rice in the rice cooker and a large pot of soup or curry and that’s the easiest thing for me to do!
Don't count calories. It can be very triggering and I just think there’s no need for it, unless you’re genuinely concerned that you’re under eating.
Don't live in a house with people who are gone all the time, it gives you more opportunity for easy binges without anyone knowing.
Give yourself responsibilities- get a job, commit to walking your dog everyday, babysit, sign up for weekly yoga classes, etc. These responsibilities really helped me with bingeing less.
Don't beat yourself up if you relapse. It’s going to happen and it’s happened to me a million times. Beating yourself up with only make you binge more and contribute to the whole self-hate cycle (if you’re in it).
Don't restrict! Restricting calories is the absolute worse thing you can do if you’re trying to recover from binge eating. Your body will get hungry and you will binge. Even if it doesn’t happen the first day, after a few days of continuous restriction, your body will panic and a binge will happen.
Give your stomach a chance to de-expand. This is personally one of the hardest things for me. If you want to recover from binge eating, you need your stomach to be a normal size again instead of stretched out so much. Otherwise, you’ll constantly feel empty and hungry even if you’re actually eating a lot.
Drink lots of water. At least 2 liters a day. This helps with feeling full and overall digestion.
Don't weigh yourself. Try to go at least a month before you weigh yourself. If you weigh yourself and see a higher number, you might relapse just from being upset. It can be very discouraging when you’re trying to do something good for yourself.
If it's not in your house, you won't eat it. Try to buy less junk food when you’re at the store. Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry and write out a list in advance of healthy foods you want to buy.
Bike to get groceries or take the bus so you can't get as much junk food. You really have to be conscious of everything you buy this way, so you’ll hopefully only buy what you need and not excess junk food.
Focus on how sick you feel after a binge. Write down your pain in a journal or on your phone. Keep this and whenever you have an urge to binge, try to read it and remind yourself of the state you’re going to be in.
I focused on my Graves' disease. I didn't want to make it worse, because I could literally die. If you have any existing health issues, whether that’s acne or depression, try and focus on healing that. Food is the biggest factor in many illnesses and it plays a larger part that we think - even in mental health such as depression and anxiety. Make a commitment to heal yourself and that might help you binge less.
Self-love. Wow this was such a hard one for me but when it comes down to it, it’s actually one of the most important aspects of recovery. I have hated myself for years and years. I could never understand the whole self-love movement and how people could just love themselves so easily. But it makes all the difference. If you hate yourself, it’s so easy to continue bingeing and harming your body because obviously you don’t care about it. But if you love yourself, it’s easier to take better care of your health and not binge, because why would you want to do that to your body? Even if it seems impossible to love yourself, just try and accept yourself. That’s what I did - I just started to accept myself for who I was and I tried to stop the harmful self-sabotaging and self-abuse.
Find something that you’re passionate about. Whether that’s reading, starting your own business, helping people, cooking, spending time with animals, writing, creating art, or anything else - do more of it. This can help distract you and inspire you to be better to continue being able to do the things yo love.
I hope this blog post either made you understand binge eating a bit better, or get inspiration for how to heal yourself. I know that for every single person, it IS possible to have a free and healthy relationship with food, even if it seems impossible right now. I am determined to heal my binge eating disorder during 2019 so that 2020 can be the first year in the past decade that I have a healthy relationship with food and don’t binge. Let’s make this your year too if you’re struggling <3