Hey, thanks for that post about binge eating. I use food as a coping mechanism too, and I hate myself for it. Your victory gives me some hope though, so thank you. I did want to ask — are there other ways of coping that you developed instead of binge eating?
I’m definitely no expert on binging but I can share a few personal things that helped. Please know that these are only suggestions. Feel free to toss them or modify them as you see fit. And don’t be afraid to seek counseling or medical treatment — there is zero shame for seeking help.
1) If I got an urge, I immediately confronted it.
This sounds obvious, but the second I was triggered to binge, I usually flew out the front door and took a walk. Other times I got in the car to drive to the bookstore or Starbucks. I’d call a friend to say hello or turn up the stereo full blast.
These immediate actions interrupted my patterns and sobered me up.
You’d be surprised how quickly you can “break the spell” when you completely change your surroundings and introduce new stimuli. It’s almost like you forgot why you even felt the urge at all.
2) I got really serious about exercise.
There’s always that buzzed feeling after a binge where you swirl down a hole of self-loathing. I felt fat and disgusting. I couldn’t stand to wear a T-shirt because of my stomach and I began wearing a huge jacket all the time (and I live in Florida). Of course, feeling like crap about binging usually leads to more binging, and so the vicious cycle continues.
When I committed to exercising, that momentum really broke the guilt-spiral and incidentally encouraged me to eat better. When I missed a work-out, I had to remember not to guilt-trip myself but make up for it.
Eventually my old pants started fitting again. I got back the old muscle definition. That freedom felt too good to pass up, and binging became much less attractive.
3) I set an eating schedule.
This is obvious too, but it’s so much harder than it sounds. I really don’t know anyone who keeps a strict eating schedule. If you’re a spoiled American kid like me, then you eat whenever you dang well feel like it.
The thing about diets is that they’re really easy to do for the first few days. It’s the same with faith, with exercise, with life. But there is always a moment of temptation that cuts in where we decide to say, “Okay, just once.” And then the just-once gets us on the wrong track again, because we tell ourselves, “Might as well forget the diet now.”
When your “just-once” moment comes, push through. Do NOT compromise. There is no magic trick here: you just have to be disciplined. Throw away the snacks or run out the door or leave the potluck early or call a friend.
4) I filled my mind with more important things.
After a while, I had to quit defining myself by my struggle. I couldn’t keep thinking in terms of weight loss or calories consumed or snacks avoided. No one can possibly sustain a life like that, or we’d be nervous wrecks completely idolizing the recovery.
I had to keep Christ first. Every time I did things of eternal significance, my mind-space was filled with important matters and emptied of anything less. My God-made purpose and Christ-anchored identity would then overwhelm my struggle. Sure, there is a tension, and there are days when the struggle seems to be winning. But this is human nature, and it’s why God has grace for us. It’s grace that covers where we mess up and grace that empowers us forward to a life of freedom.
You are wired for something important, and God has given you talent and abilities and gifts to flex for His glory while you’re here on the earth. If you pursue Him, you’ll actually end up forgetting your struggle more and more: because the glory of God will have taken up all your vision. While many of us have a lifelong battle with certain issues, I also believe in a God who can have total victory over our old selves.
I know this is probably lofty and abstract, but trust God that when you pursue Him, He will work in you. Find who you are, NOT by what you’re not, but by who God says you are.