Thoughts on Breaking Down the Binge

If you’ve been there, you know.

You know how it begins and ends with pain. The negative feelings, the stress, the anxiety…it’s just too much. You need comfort. You find that comfort in those first few bites. They taste so good and make you feel happy. You forget about those negative feelings, the stress, the anxiety. Then happiness gives way to numbness as you slip into a trance and you begin to feel nothing….ah, bliss. But eventually you start to feel the pain again, only this time it’s not just emotional, it’s physical. You feel sick to your stomach and sick of yourself.

You had a binge.

On Tuesday, I had the privilege of attending a webinar hosted by Jamie of Studio Eats called Breaking Down the Binge. There were over 200 attendees present which just goes to show how many of us out there are affected by this. After going through three months of coaching with Jamie, none of the information was really new to me, but it was helpful to hear some of this again and I wanted to share a couple of points (and some added perspective) with you guys…

How do you stop?

Binges can happen for a variety of reasons, but most have nothing to do with food at all! It usually comes down to two main things: the dieting mentality and emotional issues. If we keep thinking in terms of “good” and “bad” and deprive ourselves of foods we love, then of course, eventually we will binge, but what a lot of people don’t realize is the emotional side of things. Emotional issues can be as simple as having a crappy day at work or as complex as feeling trapped in a job that you hate. What you have to do is see the binge as a red flag…an opportunity to evaluate your life and see what is missing.

For one time issues, you need a LIST…
List activities that calm you down or have a friend to call and vent to. Either distract yourself from your negative feelings or find a healthy way to release them like journaling, heading to the gym for some kickboxing, or one of my favorites, slipping into
CLEAN ALL THE THINGS mode (all hail the magical healing powers of the scrub brush!).

For recurring issues, you have to play an ACTIVE ROLE in your life…
Make changes where necessary…this may mean looking for a new job, reevaluating relationships, or learning to accept your body the way it is. Life is too damn short to be unhappy!

What do you do after it happens?

Sometimes binges are just inevitable. Forgive yourself and move on! If you play the guilt/shame game, it will only land you in a seemingly never-ending binge cycle. The key is to wake up the next day with a plan…

1. Structure your meals.
Just to get back on track, allow yourself to have a little structure. Plan meals and snacks…and even if you don’t feel very hungry, eat small portions (from a plate!) at those set times. If you skip meals, you may end up ravenous by the end of the day which will only put you back where you began.

2. Build in two self-care activities.
Go easy on yourself. Be kind. There is no need to continue the punishment. Work in time throughout the day for activities you enjoy and that make you happy whether that be a walk after lunch or a trip to the salon for a pedicure.

3. Dress comfortably.
You’re not going to feel any better in pants that are cinching at the waist and serving as a constant reminder of the binge. But don’t just put on yoga pants and a t-shirt…wear something that makes you feel pretty…put on some makeup…go back to the days of your childhood when you felt like a princess playing dress up! :)

 4. Enjoy light exercise.
DON’T go out and run five miles to “make up” for your “indiscretion.” It’s over and done with! DO move your body in ways that feel good…soak up those endorphins and SMILE!

5. Think about the reasons behind it and make changes!
Sit and meditate, journal, or heck, put your kitchen table on Craig’s list…just do SOMETHING that helps make some change in your life for the better.

MeBecause it’s time to smile be happy!

I want to thank Jamie so much for not only hosting this webinar, but also helping me in healing my relationship with food. I honestly don’t think I could have made all the progress I did in the time that I did without her help. If you EVER feel that you could benefit from having a health coach or even just have some questions to ask, please don’t hesitate to shoot her an email!

What are your go-to stress reducing activities?

When was the last time you smiled?

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37 Responses to Thoughts on Breaking Down the Binge

  1. Lucie says:

    Thank you so much for this Heather!! I wasn’t able to join the webi ar and hoped that someone would do a recap.
    I went a long road with binges and they still happen once in a while. The best thing I learned was to check it off and move on. I used to stay in the cycle of guilt and frustration which extended the binge over days. By trying to forget and move on, i can actually go back on a positive track. To calm down and clear my head after a binge i love to go out and walk – but sometimes I don’t want to see anyone, so I curl up on the couch with trash tv and nailpolish :-)

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      And that is one of the reasons why I’ve been painting my nails so much lately! I TOTALLY get the not wanting to see/be around anyone thing…thanks for showing me I’m not just some recluse self-pitying weirdo! Love you! xoxo

  2. great post babe! i didn’t know you were listening in on it, too. again, like you, i didn’t really learn anything different because i had heard most of it during the ie challenge, however, it was great to hear it again. so happy you listened in!

  3. Again, love this post. I think the getting dressed up and/or breaking out the scrub brush really help me keep my mind from wandering towards binging. Being outdoors in fresh air really helps too! I’ve also learned that I might just be THIRSTY, so I drink lots of water!!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thanks, Jen! I have to agree, fresh air helps me a TON! There’s nothing like a good walk on a nice sunny day to have time to reflect on things and/or just clear your mind! And I have noticed that the days I’m better at drinking my water are overall better in terms of how I feel about food and trusting myself to be in touch with my hunger. I just have to remember to keep that up!

  4. Olivia @healthylivy says:

    Great post! I was also listening to Jamie’s webinar the other night. It was super informative. Some stress reducing activities for me are going on a long walk with my dog, playing some board games with my boyfriend, or going shopping (;

  5. Love this post. Binging is definitely something I’ve struggled with for a long time. I’ve finally broken the cycle (probably about a year and a half ago), but it’s always something I have to be careful of. These are GREAT steps to take the day after though, and I totally followed most of them to break the cycle myself. I overate this weekend, not quite binge level, but close, and I just realized I’ve been feeling subconsciously guilty about it. Even though it wasn’t a full scale sick-to-my-stomach binge I think I need to follow these steps! Thanks for the reminder. You’re definitely not alone in this issue!!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      So glad to hear you were able to overcome this, Jess! And thank you for your kind words! I think one of the hardest things is just TIME that it takes for some of this knowledge to “sink in” with me…sometimes I think I’m great at giving advice, but most of the time, I have trouble taking it for myself. One day at a time! :)

  6. It’s such an awful cycle and it took me awhile to get out of it! These are AWESOME tips, Heather. You’re such a great source of encouragement!

  7. Some great info here lady! I love the idea of dressing comfortable – things that fit well but make you feel pretty can make all the difference. And the last time I smiled was seeing the picture of you smiling!
    My go-to stress reducing activities include taking the dog to the park, curling up with a junky magazine, or watching a show or a movie I like, preferably included with a foot massage from the boyfriend 😉

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      A man who gives foot massages is a good man indeed! 😀 And seriously, what is it about junky magazines? I never subscribe to them, but since I work in a hospital, all I have to do is walk into one of the waiting rooms and I have a stack at my disposal…and they just suck me in sometimes! Haha!

  8. Gabrielle says:

    Amazing post! I feel like I’m alone in this mess. I was anorexic for 2 years and when I started to “refeed” my body, I felt into binge eating. I gained a sh*t load of weight and now I hate my body. Which feeds the binges and it’s just a vicious cycle! I’m trying really hard to find balance but it’s so hard. I feel like I cant talk to anyone about this (except for my therapist) because people dont understand what it feels like! :(

    Anyways, thank you for this post! Hopefully we can both overcome this :)

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Oh honey, please please PLEASE don’t feel like you’re alone because you are most definitely NOT! I know exactly what it feels like to be stuck in that cycle because I’m going through it right now and have been for months. Sometimes I go a few weeks and I feel better…like things are finally starting to click and I’m trusting myself and then BAM! It happens again. For the longest time, I felt like that was a failure on my part…like I wasn’t doing the recovery thing “right”, but like I said in this post and have said numerous times since I “came out” about giving up calorie counting, that is NOT the case. It’s all part of the journey! The cycle we fall into is a product of self hate…the opposite of what we need at that time, when we feel so ashamed…so vulnerable. It’s hard, but you CAN pull yourself out of it. I really think you should check out the recording of the webinar one Jamie’s site: http://www.studioeats.com/WorkWithMe/AFreeWebinarBreakingDownTheBinge.aspx. There are a few things in it that I didn’t cover on here that may be helpful to you. And I would love for you to comment back and/or email me with your thoughts/questions about it. I’m not an expert, but I’ve learned a lot through experience…one of the biggest things learned was that sometimes, it’s easier to give advice to others than it is to take it ourselves. *hugs*

  9. Great Post 😀 And my de-stressers are exercise and writing! They are both a big and positive part of my life.

  10. Great information. I like what you said about not wearing tight pants either. Gosh, whenever I read that someone did that I think.. “Why?” I know I hate wearing pants that are tight, whether I’m eating or not. It just makes me feel bad.

    I’m also happy to be reading this from you, because I’ve read similar posts from other bloggers/sites who I just don’t think can relate. It seems more informational when they write on it because they’ve never experienced it. But you can totally relate and that makes you ten times more awesome.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Awww, thank you Madison! I have to say I agree with you…knowing that someone has gone through the struggles that they are writing/talking/preaching about really makes it that much more relatable…and trustworthy. Just trying to do what I can to help others! 😀

  11. Emily says:

    Thank you.
    Just…thank you.

    <3

  12. Courtney says:

    I fill out what’s called a “behavior chain”. I start from the binge (or the purge) and I write backwards exactly what I did and what I felt if I can remember. Sounds simple, and yet it’s SO powerful. These things don’t just happen… erase that from your mind!! The reason, for me, is hard to find. Thank you for sharing! xo

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      That’s a great exercise, Courtney! I’ve found that if you can start to pinpoint the emotions felt just before going into it, it really helps you understand things better AND makes it easier to forgive yourself and move on. And just to clear things up, I don’t mean to insinuate that these things “just” happen…I mean that after the fact, there is no reason to beat yourself up over the ACT…because it’s over and done with. The important (and healthy) thing to do, is to focus on the WHY and the HOW to heal! :)

  13. Can you please tell me how to get in to “clean all the things” mode? That has never, ever happened to me. LOL!

    Heather, I’m so proud of you and your ability to take a deep breath and look at the causes and effects of difficult things to deal with and TALK about. Love you much, my friend.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thank you Laura! That REALLY means a lot to me! And as for the “clean all the things” mode, I swear I never know when it will hit…sometimes it’s emotionally induced when I’m stressed or upset about something, but other times, I can just be washing up my dishes after breakfast, notice some crumbs on the floor, and once I break out the broom, it’s like an hour later before I realize what’s happened! Haha!

  14. Great post Heather!! I struggle with the occasional binge & I think it’s most likely the emotionally triggered kind. I usually do it when I’m sad, stressed, or upset.
    You gave so many great tips though, thanks!! :)

  15. Yup. Been there. Thanks for approaching the touchy topic. You’ve got some great tips, as if I needed another excuse to treat myself to a pedicure… 😉

  16. calee says:

    this post is really, really great. nicely put. and beautiful picture of you at the end of the post!

  17. Meditating helps as does calling a friend, reading, sudokus, getting a massage, a mani or pedi, having a bath or even a long hot shower, watching tv (depending on the show), having a cup of tea, journalling etc.

    I am yet to watch the webinar I unfortunately couldn’t make it due to the time difference but I plan on watching it today.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Oh yes, a bath or long shower is definitely up there on my list too! Most of the time it’s a shower though because I’m so damn impatient…I hate waiting for the tub to fill! And then, once I’m in there, it’s like, “ok, now what?!” I always want to like read a book or play on my phone but I’m too afraid I’ll drop them in the water! I have actually dropped my phone before…so it’s not an irrational fear! FYI, the rice trick does actually work! 😉

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  19. I always think it’s beneficial to go over issues from time to time, even if you already have the information to deal with them. Refreshers can’t hurt, and they usually end up being helpful. This post is also a great source of information for others dealing with similar issues. Kudos to you for sharing it.
    I get into the clean all things mode after watching an episode of Hoarders or spotting a cobweb in the cornor. Alright, a whole nest of cobwebs in the cornor.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thanks, Meg! I totally agree…and last week, I just felt like I really needed a refresher. I’m actually reading back over some of the IE book again too, just to remind myself of some things that I’ve forgotten (and to finally publish that book review I promised over 4 months ago! Oops?)

      Omg, Hoarders makes my skin crawl…especially when it involves rotting food! I am so anti-clutter to begin…I rarely attach sentimental value to inanimate objects…with so I can’t even BEGIN to understand the mindset that people have with that!

  20. Dee says:

    I binge also. Am 32. Not overweight…but a digestive-hormonal-metabolic mess really. Chronic fatigue and muscle issues = no exercise…SO, no exercise and binging….yeah, cool, right?
    You may want to check out these articles though:

    http://www.youreatopia.com/blog/2012/10/31/bingeing-is-not-bingeing.html

    You are young and need a lot of calories…..if I had my time back…
    anyway, my binges…oh, I just relate to u okay? email anytime.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Dee…and for the link. If there’s one thing I’ve realized over the last year or so when it comes to bingeing is that it is not easy to explain. I think each case is unique to the individual and the only way to overcome it is to just be patient, forgiving of yourself, and have a good support system in place for those times where you just “need” someone…because it’s not a bad thing to depend on others. I used to think it was a sign of weakness…god, I was so wrong!

      I can relate to you’re problems of lack of exercise paired with bingeing. Honestly, I think I’ve seen an increase in the amount of binges since my knee surgery five months ago took me away from exercise. It’s difficult to manage the stress/anxiety of life along with the stress/anxiety that bingeing itself causes when you can’t get a regular release of endorphins. I’m trying my best to get back into just moving my body more but after being inactive for so long, it is definitely hard to get (and KEEP) that motivation going! Just gotta take it day by day and trust that there IS light at the end of the tunnel. :)

      “The difficulties and struggles of today are but the price we must pay for the accomplishments and victories of tomorrow.” -William J. H. Boetcker

  21. Thanks for reminding us all that this is something more people deal with than probably care to admit, and that while it might not be ‘OK,’ it is not something to beat yourself up over. I have, for the most part, overcome my binging at night…until just this week. I noticed that it was most likely going to come back, and I didn’t necessarily do anything to stop it. And I’m SO guilty of the “run five miles to overcome it” kind of mentality. Anyways, thank you, as always, for your honesty…I swear we really are the same person in so many ways.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      I have to constantly remind myself is that it took a while for me to develop this unhealthy mindset/relationship with food so it’s going to take a while before I can say I’ve totally overcome it. One of the things that hardest for me is having a binge after not having one in a while…I feel so guilty…like, “How could you just go and screw up all that progress?!” but it’s not like that at all…I’m STILL on the journey and I just have to learn to be more patient with myself.

      Oh I have missed you SO much my little ginger twin! I can’t wait to see you innnnnnnnn just over a WEEK! I’m gonna give you the BIGGEST hug ever! :)

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