Self-Love Reflection: Overcoming Binging

Posted: May 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Every Sunday I re-share a self-love topic from my 30 Days of Self-Love. This week, I have chosen to re-share on a topic about which I receive many questions. You may have recently seen this on Julie’s blog, but I felt called to change my original planned topic to this one today. Perhaps there is someone out there who this story needs to reach today through my blog? Who knows? I just hope it can touch even one person’s life and inspire even one person to find a healthier relationship with food. Thanks for reading, or re-reading as the case may be!

I am a recovered binger. In my past, I have hidden food and scrambled to eat as much as I could when a moment by my lonesome presented itself. I have bought whole packages of cookies, candy, donuts, and more to eat in my car when driving home. I have eaten so much food I felt ill, but not had the strength to stop shoving more in my mouth. That used to be me. That used to be my existence.

collegetina

Now, I have found balance.

I have found the joy in eating healthy…most of the time -because what’s life without dessert? I have discovered the fun that exercise can hold when not used as a punishment technique. I can eat “intuitively” (cake included) and still make progress in finding my body’s “happy place.”

partycakeslice

I receive more emails asking how I stopped binging than any other topic related to my blog. While I am not a professional, I can happily offer what helped me. In a topic not openly discussed nearly enough, I hope to offer some solace and guidance to anyone reading with their own food struggles. So, here is my personal path to recovery from binging…

Moments of Peace

I made an effort to start each day with a positive mantra – “I have the strength to honor and respect my body. I have the strength to not turn to food for comfort”. Taking some time to direct my thoughts to a positive place, to something that provided a source of strength, helped me to begin overcoming such struggles.

Realize Your Worth

When I conceived Makenzie and realized that the actions I took no longer only impacted myself, I found new motivation to care for my body by not binging. I was an example to her. Now, I also see the impact I can have on others through sharing my story and blogging. Focusing on your strengths and the impact you have can motivate you to care for yourself more.

mkisses

Look At The Bigger Picture

If you were given a diagnosis of one month to live right now, would you really worry so much about your body? Who approaches their death bed wishing to weigh 10 pounds lighter, showcase a perkier booty,or have flatter abs? Trying to restrict food to achieve such goals does not satisfy us because it is not what matters in life. Therefore, we feel empty physically and emotionally. Fill yourself emotionally with the important facets of life and you likely will find less desire for the emotional eating.

Lose the Rules & Embrace the Fear

I used to have so many food rules. Once I stopped listing foods as good or bad and opened myself up to everything, food had less power over me. I admit that when I “allowed” myself to eat anything, I did go overboard at first. Too many people find themselves in that situation and then don’t believe they will ever stop. Embrace that fear and believe you will find balance. After a short time, I realized I didn’t care for many of the things on which I used to binge. I craved healthy staples and could satisfy myself with reasonable portions of my favorite treats. Food no longer had the control.

Don’t Give Up

The above is not to say that after a few weeks’ time I no longer faced binges. I still had numerous occasions pop up where stress would get to me and I would suddenly find myself digging into a jar of peanut butter or grabbing a box of sweets from the bakery, despite a lack of hunger. Instead of trying to “make up for it” by restricting myself the next day or loading on the cardio, I told myself it was okay. I reminded myself it’s a process and picked up with normal living right away.

Find Other Distractions

To this day, I still occasionally have the urge to binge. Sometimes the emotions, stress, and fatigue of a day present too much a challenge to face and evaluate right away. When that happens, I find other ways to comfort myself instead of food. Things like blog reading, household tasks, going for a run, or watching some mindless TV.

Make Health Fun

Finally, finding a way to love healthy living made a big difference in overcoming my binge tendencies. I took a long, hard look at what exercise inspired me and left me with that natural high. Now, I happily work out lifting weights, running, and taking spinning classes because they excite me. I made an effort to make eating fun. I don’t feel deprived when eating things like Lemon Raspberry Muffins, BBQ Wraps, flavorful salads, huge bowls of oats, healthy “ice-cream”, and delicious smoothies.

foodcollage

Plus, I keep in mind that I don’t have to eat “perfectly”. I focus on eating these things 80% of the time and make room to enjoy other favorites (I have a killer sweet tooth) the rest of the time – guilt free.

You don’t have to continue with food struggles. Believe in yourself each and every day. Your body deserves the best you can give it. And you have the power. You deserve happiness. Take it.

jump_for_joy

  • Have you ever fought an unhealthy relationship with food?
  • What is a favorite positive mantra or saying you could use to remember your beauty and worth?

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38 Comments to “Self-Love Reflection: Overcoming Binging”
  1. Kristi says:

    Thank you for this post. I never really knew that what I was doing (binging) was something that other people suffered through. I didn’t even know it was something that I needed to get over. I just thought I was weak and I ate sometimes too much. I did some unhealthy things to my body, but it’s through blogging that I am learning so much. I’m learning not too label foods, and not to deny myself. If I want to eat something, I eat it. I’m trying to start listening to my body. It’s a tough task… trusting yourself. I’ll get there one day though.

    • Tina says:

      It’s a very tough task and takes a LOT of practice. Just keep at it. And I really strive to openly share about this part of my life, because I felt so alone and like NO ONE could relate when going through it. Then, I learned how many people really do know how it feels. I don’t want anyone to feel that same loneliness.

  2. Kimberly says:

    Love this post and your blog! I’ve always struggled with food until recently. I threw away my scale and began to focus on eating for healthy living which is not about restriction but about moderation and enjoying everything in life and realizing that food is not out there to comfort me, to celebrate with me, or calm my fears. Food is simply there to nourish my body and give me fuel for each and everyday. God is there to comfort, celebrate and calm my fears.

  3. I love your attitude and perspective on health! I’m trying to adopt it into my life little by little. I used to weigh myself every day, but since reading your blog I have stopped doing that. I like your idea of finding a “happy place” with consistent healthy choices, not obsessive calorie counting and over-exercising. It’s a complicated process that I’m sure will take me years and years to get the hang of. Thanks for sharing your successes!

  4. Jeannie says:

    Thank you for this post. I admit, I have struggled with this myself on and off. Although my binging behavior did not actually begin with my weight loss journey years ago. In fact, I lost weight making sensible life long healthy changes. However, after the birth of my 2nd son, I had to deal with nursing on a restricted diet for 14 months because he had numerous food intolerances. When I weaned & was free to eat whatever I wanted again, I started overindulging and gained 5 pounds rather quickly. I also spent so much time obsessing over food labels and ingredients that I started to view food differently. Since then, I have struggled to get back that balance I once had and I fall into patterns of binging due to stress and feeling I should be eating better. I am determined to stop obsessing over food and not let it rule my life anymore but it is a slow process for me. I want my family to eat healthy but I don’t want to focus on every single bite we consume anymore.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Amazing post! As a recovering binge eater as well, I couldn’t have put it better myself. I have to say, for me the big picture part has really been what drove it home for me. I recently started working at a children’s hospital and everyday I see happy kids who have overcome horrible illnesses or amputations. It really put it all into perspective for me. When I feel lazy, I think of the double amputee I met who won 2nd in a 5k last month and I’m excited that I *can* live a healthy lifestyle. Its such a blessing!

    • Tina says:

      It really is amazing to see the treasures we have in life itself and want to live it to the fullest as possible. Thanks for sharing your story here. :)

  6. Sarah says:

    Great post, Tina.
    I’ve “always” had an on again-off again relationship with binge eating, but this pregnancy has really had me looking at things differently.
    Many of the things that are helping me are things that helped you- crossing out food rules, having fun with it, not trying so hard to be “perfect.”
    I also like to remember that I was uniquely made by God. That helps a LOT.

  7. Karen says:

    I really like the idea of starting your day by repeating a positive mantra like that! By thinking positive thoughts from the start, you are setting yourself up to travel down a positive path!

    This is an area of my life that I am still working to gain control over. I used to binge very regularly on “bad” food. I started reading healthy living blogs and realized there is a whole world of healthy, good food out there. I started making little changes to my diet and realized how much better I felt – my energy, my mood, everything was so much better. Now, when selecting my meals, I notice that I am choosing more whole, natural foods but I still give in to my sweet tooth on occasion. I still have the occasional binge but it’s not nearly as often as before. I am working on recognizing what causes me to binge and dealing with those feelings in another way.

    Thank you for sharing your story and making others (including myself) realize we aren’t alone on this journey!

  8. I am loving this last pic of you..so happy, so carefree, so beautiful! It made me feel joyous =)

  9. Errign says:

    I think in general, I have a pretty healthy relationship with food, but everyone has their struggles. I have moments where I say (in my head) something about not eating something because I hadn’t exercised, or that I was disgusting for overeating, etc. The negative talk is something that I think is inevitable, but being able to overcome and ignore it is key!

    My mantra: you. are. fabulous. Plain, simple and TRUE. :D

  10. Thanks for this post. I am in recovery from bulimia, which included restricting, binging, purging, and over-exercising.
    I found that looking for the reasons why I used these behaviors are key. Was I stressed, depressed, anxious, etc? And why? Finding healthy coping mechanisms were also key.
    Also, I highly recommend seeking professional help — a therapist and dietician, depending how dire the issue is.

    • Tina says:

      Yes, definitely. Whenever people directly contact me I always suggest and refer a professional to talk to about it. I didn’t use a professional so can’t share it in my own story, but I definitely think I would have benefited sooner if I had turned to one. :)

  11. My favorite way to remember my beauty and self-worth is to reflect upon the fact that GOD Himself knit me together in my mother’s womb in HIS OWN IMAGE. I am HIS child and He loves me NO MATTER WHAT! It doesn’t get much better than that when it comes to feeling like a Princess!

  12. Rachel says:

    Thanks for this :)
    Your blog has become one that I can always come to for inspiration whether is related to my faith, working out, or, in particular, overcoming some of my eating struggles. Reading your intuitive eating series led me to read the Intuitive Eating book that you reffered to in your posts, and it has made a big, positive impact on my life!

  13. Thanks for sharing this post, Tina. I think its inspirational for so many people (myself included) to read about how you overcame your eating struggle.

    At one point in my life I had a disordered relationship with food but thanks to supportive friends and a great husband I was able to find a balance between myself and food.

    I have since grown to love working out, not just because of how awesome and strong I feel afterwards, but also because now I don’t have to deprive myself from the occasional slice of coconut cake or a pain au chocolat!

  14. Jennifer says:

    How do you DO that? Just when I need this post, here it is. Thank you for the reminder that it IS a process and that setbacks aren’t the whole story. After nights like tonight I tend to let myself believe I’ll never get better, but I know it will because I’m not going to quit working for it. And because people like you are out there sharing your story and giving me hope for recovery. I wish it were easier, but the best things in life are the things we have to work for.

  15. Jan says:

    Wow! I had no clue that you were a former binger. How encouraging to see how far you’ve come (there is hope). :) Thanks for listing out some great insights. So helpful to read. I really appreciate you pouring yourself into your blog. You have no idea how well I can identify with you. You are such an inspiration. Thank you!

  16. I loved this post on Julie’s blog, and I still love it now. The “Lose the Rules” point rings especially true for me…after restricting myself for several years, it’s sometimes still difficult not to take an all-or-nothing approach to food, where if I start eating unhealthfully one day then I just continue the pattern. But I’ve noticed that the more I allow small treats and meals out to become a part of my daily routine, they lose power over me and I can just continue my day without going to town on every sweet I see. We’re all a constant work in progress ;)

  17. Loved this post the first time I read it and I still appreciate it so much, Tina! I’ve also come a long way over the years to discover intuitive eating, and I’m very much a work in progress. Love being inspired by your story! You go, girl! :)

  18. Lori Lynn says:

    Ditto on doing this post! I have struggled with this for a really long time, and it’s a battle that I’m constantly facing. I have gotten better with not have the extremes that I once had, but there are still times where I feel like it’s a bit of a mental battle. I went to a counselor for almost 3 years, and I think that that helped, plus my faith has helped as well.

  19. I am a recovered binge-eater myself. It took a year of outpatient treatment at an eating disorder clinic & lots of self-reflection/love & God to pull me out of it. It’s a lonely, terrifying and miserable place to be. BUT…once you find happiness on the other side and health & wellness becomes a part of your life, you can’t imagine living any other way! And I couldn’t agree more… it’s something that’s not talked about enough. Too many people seeing binge-eating as “socially acceptable” and NOT as the eating disorder that it is. That HAS to change!

  20. Meghana says:

    I definitely struggle with binging. About 2 years ago, I made a decision to lose weight and get healthy. I weighed in the high 120s (don’t even know exactly) but it was a lot for me. Despite being 5’7″, I’m not meant to be that way. I drank less alcohol, ate healthier, and joined a gym. All good. I got down to 118-120. But people around me at work always talked about how this one coworker was so skinny and how she never ate. While the comments were negative, they also kind of praised her behavior and everyone was in awe of her ability to restrict herself. Eventually it got to me (not consciously, but I now thought more about food and how to eat less). I switched to this other trendy gym (I live in NYC) and severely controlled my food. Didn’t realize at the time that I wasn’t eating enough while exercising a lot, but I ended up being 100 lbs at my lowest. Some people saw the unhealthiness but others would ask what me about my diet and exercise routine. Anyway, I couldn’t sustain that for long so after about 6 months that way, I started to let those scary foods back in (PB, bananas, etc) and I couldn’t stop myself. Now here I am about 6 months from my 100 lb weight at 130 pounds. I have a lot of muscle because I’ve continued to exercise regularly but I have fat on my body as well and I binge fairly regularly. Your post makes me hopeful, but I’ve got a long way to go.

    • Tina says:

      Sounds like a long journey you’ve been through already, but like you have also learned a lot and are working hard to get back to health and a good balance. Thanks for sharing and keep on keeping on. :)

  21. Vinny says:

    This was a great post. I often struggle with food choices and binging. Thanks for these tips on how to help. I truly working on how to control my food and not let food control me.

    Thanks again!!

  22. Kayleigh says:

    I just found your blog…and I’m so glad I did! So motivational! Thanks for all the tips!

  23. have i ever fought an unhealthy relationship with food? YES. i am currently working on becoming a non-binger. and i’m getting there every day. this post what the best thing i could read right now. since reintroducing former “bad” foods into my life, i’ve definitely “over done” it. but i am trusting that i will move past it. i already have in many ways. this binging business happened because i started dieting two years ago. i’m starting to see more and more that restricting anything i want won’t work. incorporation and moderation will. my positive mantra? “you are beautiful. you are capable. you are strong.” believing it more every day.

    i’m a first time commenter and first time reader. so happy i’ve found you and this post. thanks so much for the inspiring, motivating, and uplifting words, tina.

    • Tina says:

      I’m so glad you managed to cross my path. I love connecting with others and uplifting each other. :)

      I know I went through a phase of overdoing it too but refusing to not go back to restriction made all the difference. You’re doing great it sounds like. Stay strong!

  24. [...] my REAL journey back to fitness! Powered by WP Greet Box WordPress PluginDuring the worst of my binge eating, I had entered into a vicious cycle of binge, guilt, punishment by restriction, starve and binge [...]

  25. [...] Eight years ago I fell in love with fitness – strength training playing a vital role in that love. Eight years ago I picked up my first weight and immediately felt empowered. I started to see changes in my body that amazed me. I increased my physical capabilities. I could turn to weights as an outlet when dealing with my past struggles of depression and binge eating. [...]

  26. Happy Weight says:

    [...] Four Ways to Achieve Your Happy Weight  1. Overcome Eating Issues. I truly believe you cannot manage to reach a comfortable place for your body if you constantly battle food. I spent years in a vicious binge and restrict cycle. As I discussed yesterday, I could limit myself to 1200 calories a day for days on end without ever achieving a healthy, fit body. Yet, my emotional struggles with food kept me from ever truly achieving a healthy size for myself. I did not reach my happy weight until after my personal journey to overcome binge eating. [...]

  27. Ashley says:

    Your blog blesses me as I work through my issues with food and strive to live a healthier, happier lifestyle. Super thanks!
    Twitter @MissAshleyylala

  28. Claire says:

    A million Thank-Yous! I am struggling along this journey too, it was so nice to read such an honest and encouraging post. Thank you xxx

    • Tina says:

      That’s why I share! To hopefully show others they are not alone and that they can get through it too. Big hugs!

  29. Heather says:

    I’ve been coming back to this post again and again. This is my big struggle and although I manage to keep my weight stable… about 20 lbs overweight and 30 lbs less than my heaviest…. I know that the binges are unhealthy at ANY weight.
    After reading this blog post again and again, I’ve recently decided to stop tracking and outlaw dieting I’ve tracked calories pretty consistently for 18 years! I haven’t been perfect but your honesty about how you weren’t successful right away motivates me to keep going. I know I’ve created my binge issues through years of dieting and telling myself I was too fat. Now its time to start a new life of telling myself I’m worth a strong healthy body witihout ever dieting again.

    Thank you for your honesty – its nice to know I’m not alone

    • Tina says:

      You are definitely not alone and I’m here for any support you may need. :)

      It’s definitely a learning curve and there will always be challenges (I still have urges to binge), but with time the allure of it drops because food doesn’t have as much control. Keep your head up and trust the process. And believe you CAN! :)

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