Brittany is holding a sign that reads, "What do do after a binge"


🍔Binge eating —almost all of us have done it. That mindless state where you rapidly eat without pause. Your brain gets switched to autopilot, and it feels as if you’re watching yourself from afar. It’s an out-of-body experience, and an act that usually ends with guilt and shame. Once you come to your senses you swear to yourself, “this is my last binge ever!” You resolve to compensate for the binge by eating perfectly, and with strict limitations. And this sets the stage for the binge-restrict cycle to continue.

So, how do you break free from the cycle? What are you supposed to do after a binge?

It might be difficult to find compassion for yourself in the aftermath of a binge, but it’s a really important part in mitigating the impulsive and degrading insults that often follow. It’s helpful to take a deep breath and pause for a moment to regain your emotional balance. Having a binge is a common part of being human. It is not a crime, nor is it a character flaw. And you are most definitely not a failure. Bingeing is not a weakness, but rather a way to act out and release pent up emotions. There is nothing wrong with this! A binge is just feedback. It’s a reminder that you should explore other avenues to express and cope with your emotions. A little kindness towards yourself will go a long way.

After a binge, it’s likely you won’t be thinking rationally. It’s common to have a knee jerk reaction to beat yourself up and think of all the ways you can undo the damage. This is highly unhelpful. One of the best things you can do is find distractions to fill your time and quiet your mind. Some ideas are to journal or write your feelings down, call a good friend or supportive person, listen to or make a new playlist, watch TV, go for a leisurely walk, take a nap, or play games on your phone or computer. Any type of mindless, self-care activity will be beneficial.

It can be tempting to weigh yourself after a binge, but keep in mind this is one of the worst things you could do. First, you should know that weighing yourself is not something you ever have to do. But if you can’t resist the scale, at least ban it for a week. Our weight naturally fluctuates 2-5 pounds per day. After a binge, your weight will temporarily fluctuate much more. You did not put on 10 pounds from one binge! The artificial number is due to water retention and the weight of the food itself. This is why it’s important to avoid the scale following a binge because any number you see will be inaccurate. It’s also important to avoid body checking and mirrors. Comfy, loose clothes can make this period easier.

One of the most important things you can do to set yourself up for success is to get right back on track as if nothing happened. I know you’re probably thinking, “but I’m so full! After eating so many calories it’s okay if I eat less!” The problem is your body is too smart to believe your disordered mind’s rationale. You may not be as physically hungry, but mentally you will be ravenous. Mental hunger is often overlooked, and that’s why binges seem to occur without warning. As difficult as it may be, continuing to eat normally will help prevent falling back into the binge-restrict cycle.

Often, our binges have a theme or pattern to them. Take a moment to reflect —why did you binge? What triggered it? Is there a theme with all binges? Do you always binge at a certain time or day? Is there a particular activity, person, or stressor that precedes a binge? The more information you can gather, the clearer picture you’ll be able to create. This enables you to plan ahead. Once you identify your patterns and triggers, you can begin to implement strategies to deal with these stressors in the future.

And remember that healing your relationship with food is a process, not a quick fix or a question of willpower. Applaud yourself for learning, and for having the courage to respect your body. ~Britt💜

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