Eating Disorder Therapist in Rockville, Maryland. Serving Montgomery County, Maryland. Specializing in the treatment of anorexia, binge eating, orthorexia, bulimia, compulsive exercise.
She has just finished dinner when the urges begin. It feels like the food in the pantry is calling to her. All she can think about is the package of Oreos, the peanut butter and bread, and the chips. She wants nothing more than to get lost in the cycle of eating. To numb out and to feel that initial pleasure, as she washes down a package of Oreos with gallon of milk.
But part of her, doesn’t want to do this again. She wants nothing more than to be able to stop this terrible cycle. Yet, she doesn’t know how to cope with these intense urges.
As an eating disorder therapist in private practice in Rockville, Maryland, I specialize in helping people to recover from eating disorders.
The following are a few of my tips for what to do when you feel urges to binge eat.
Steps to Take
1. Take a deep breath.
2. Remove yourself from the kitchen (if you are in the car drive home, i.e. remove yourself from the triggering environment if you can) and go somewhere where you can sit down.
3. Remind yourself that just because you have an urge, does not mean that you need to act on it. With practice, you can learn how to sit with and ride out the urges that you experience. Urges typically will naturally go down on their own, the more that we can sit with them.
4. Remind yourself of how you usually feel after a binge episode. Bingeing gives a temporary high or feeling of “comfort” or “calm” with long-term distress and unhappiness. Typically people feel physically and mentally terrible after a binge episode.
5. Be kind to yourself. Recognize that you are using bingeing either as a response to physical or emotional deprivation (i.e. you aren’t eating enough throughout the day, or you are eating things yet feeling guilty about them), and/or to cope with uncomfortable or unpleasant emotions.
6. Ask yourself, “Am I feeling physically hungry?”
7. If the answer is no, ask yourself, “What am I looking to feel (or to not feel) through turning to food?” One good option would be to write about this in a journal or notebook.
8. Identify two healthier coping strategies that you can try to get a similar feeling (i.e. if it’s a sense of comfort, call a friend or play with a pet).
9. Tell yourself that you will at least try these two healthier coping strategies before acting on the urge to binge.
10. If afterwards, you are still feeling the urge to binge-try reaching out to someone for support.
11. Remind yourself that you are not saying that you must give up bingeing forever. You can always go back to bingeing-however try to take it one day (even one meal) at a time. What if you tried something different this time?
12. Reach out for professional support. No one should have to struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating alone. Getting help when you are struggling is a sign of true strength, not weakness. Eating disorders are treatable illnesses and full recovery is possible!
The Bottom Line
If you do end up bingeing after taking these steps, it’s so important to be compassionate with yourself. You are not alone in struggling with this and you are not simply “lacking willpower.” You are struggling with something, that no one would choose. It’s also so important that you don’t do anything to try to “compensate” for the binge, as this will only keep the binge/restrict cycle going.
If you could ride out the urge even for a little bit, this shows that you were practicing an important skill and with time (and additional support) you can learn how to ride out the urge completely.
If you could ride out the urge to binge completely, take a moment to recognize and acknowledge this.
Ultimately, you deserve a meaningful and joyful life. No matter what you may be telling yourself, finding freedom from bingeing is possible.
Yes, for you too.
Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C: is an eating disorder therapist in private practice in Rockville, Maryland. Jennifer specializes in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, and bulimia, and body image issues. Jennifer provides eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Germantown, and Washington D.C. Connect with Jennifer through her website: www.jenniferrollin.com
I'm an eating disorder therapist in private practice in Rockville, MD.