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“What to Do” After a Binge

By January 22, 2013

I have been binge eating for almost three years and struggle with a negative body image. My binge eating is at its worst and I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for what to do after a binge. As we all know, after binging I feel extreme guilt and self-disgust. The next day I usually fall under one of the two following scenerios: I either want to restrict what I’m eating to make up for the enormous amount of calories consumed the day before or I want I’ll try and practice “normal” eating habits. In both cases, I end up binging again and continuously repeat the cycle. Any suggestions? Thanks for you time! – Olivia

Olivia,

This is a very good question. I’ll answer it in two parts.

First, the physical answer. In our society, we are told to “make up” for overeating by cutting back. The problem is that this behavior keeps us physiologically in a restrict-binge cycle because physiologically our body will do all that it can to tempt us to eat when it is physically hungry. Blood sugar dips and other appetite stimulating hormones rise to help move us toward feeding the vital organs that are always requiring fuel (calories).

Second, the psychological answer. We feel bad because we “shouldn’t have binged.” We have guilt, anger, and other negative feelings. These feelings come from the belief that, “I was bad and I will get fat.” Based on evidence of what is real and true, that faulty belief can be challenged and replaced with this: “Oops. I was too hungry and I binged. Lesson learned. Now I will RESUME.”

Now the feeling (emotion) is calmness instead of anger and guilt. With a calm emotion, you are more likely to “move on” and “resume” and be at peace with yourself.

The next-day binge has a much greater likelihood of NOT happening because I am eating well and I am thinking rational.

Eileen Stellefson Myers, MPH, RD, LDN, FADA