How One Client Stopped Bingeing
What would you give to be binge-free? Here’s how one of my clients, after 30 years of binge-eating, has been free of it for nearly two months, saying she doubts she’ll ever resume this behavior again. I asked what she’d been doing differently and if she minded if I shared her story. She was eager to share her thoughts and encouraged me to blog about her success.
My client is a divorced, hard-working mom in her early 40s with a history of overeating, dieting, and hyper-focusing on food and weight. She came to me insisting that she could never change her eating. It was only in her third round of therapy with me (after two previous stints of a couple of sessions each time) that she began to make strides.
Here's the advice she wants to pass on to you that has helped her not binge:
- She has a strong commitment to wanting to eat better and healthier. It was never a “should” but, rather, a fervent desire to nourish and take topnotch care of her body. She views food as medicine that can help her mind and body heal and flourish.
- She views bingeing as a habit she can change, nothing more or less, and trusts that if others have done it she can too because she feels smart and resolute.
- She recognizes that she must experience the urge to binge in order to not do it, that is, she has to be in the moment of mindlessly wanting to eat to not do it. She knows that she can’t do it by only thinking about how to change before or after the moment.
- She practices tuning into appetite, always asking herself if she is full or hungry, what she wants to eat and whether she is enjoying her food.
- She pays attention to cravings without thinking about calories or fat grams, wanting only to satisfy her appetite needs for the moment. No foods are forbidden.
- She tells herself that she can eat again whenever she wants to and doesn’t need to fill up when she’s eating. This thought has been particularly freeing to her. She aims to eat healthfully (for now) 80% of the time.
- She believes in the process: That change starts in her mind and that what she believes and says to herself predicts what and how she eats. She knows that recovery is not just about food, but about personality traits, life skills, and self-talk. She knows that recovery doesn’t happen overnight and is okay with it taking time.
- She doesn’t beat herself if she eats past full, but practices self-compassion and self-kindness.
I would add that she has a positive, upbeat attitude in general, feels empowered to change her life, and learns from and doesn’t dwell, on her mistakes.