Are you a binge eater? Do you hate yourself because you can't stop when that craving for your special feel good food goes out of control? How many times have you promised yourself that you will stop tomorrow and be good? When you can't close that zipper, do you panic and punish yourself for pigging out and then suffer from extreme anxiety? In my workbook for overeaters, How To Stop Playing the Weighting Game, you can learn how to do this.
The one thing that binger eaters don't do is to understand why they can't stop eating and what causes them to keep stuffing in food long after they are full. Compulsive overeaters believe that binges are bad and that they are bad for being so weak.
Instead of going into denial or trying to avoid binge eating again, consider the possibility that a binge is a message from your inner self trying to tell you that some situation or relationship is troubling you, and you are unaware of what it is or unwilling to face the pain long enough to do something about it.
Stuffing yourself with food is like taking an Aspirin when you have a broken leg. It may dull the agony a tiny bit, but it will not heal the problem. Most addictive or compulsive people who give up one destructive habit will find another way to medicate their distress unless they deal with the underlying problems that are creating the emotional pain. Many overeaters are shopaholics or addicted to drugs or alcohol. Bulimics frequently shoplift.
The problem is not food. Food is the solution. It is a way to use pleasure to mask misery. Unless you are aware of the 5 steps of your binge behavior, you will continue to beat yourself up about your weakness for food. What in your life is bothering you that you are not willing to acknowledge? What in your life do you feel helpless to change?
Scientists now know that many people who battle weight problems often have fewer dopamine receptors in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that is part of the pleasure circuit in the brain. Dopamine helps produce feelings of satisfaction and pleasure. Overeaters may have a harder time coping with stress due to their lack of dopamine.
The need for relief from physical or emotional stress is what creates the feeling of craving. The downside of this situation is that the kinds of foods that stimulate dopamine production are carbohydrates! That is why dieters usually choose cookies over celery and pizza over salad to alleviate the craving. Knowing that your brain chemistry is part of the problem, what can you do to change your behavior?
Each binge has 5 steps. Once you understand what they are, you can take action to stop yourself before you regret your behavior. If you follow the powerful program in my book Desserts Is Stressed Spelled Backwards, you will be able to nip binges in the bud.
Step 1: The Trigger.
There are 3 kinds of triggers. The first is deprivation. Do you secretly believe that a diet is just temporary deprivation so that you may eat what you have been denying yourself again when it is over? Scientists have discovered that dieting is very stressful and can actually affect the level of dopamine in the brain. This can cause cravings! The harder you diet and the more you reject foods you like, the greater the danger of uncontrolled overeating.
Another trigger is the intense stress you experience when you have a problem with something or someone in your life, and you feel helpless to resolve it. Food is the tranquilizer that allows you to smooth over your negative emotions.
The third type of trigger is stored in your unconscious mind; therefore, you may be totally oblivious of its existence. Sometimes this trigger relates to your very early years or an intense trauma that you no longer remember. It is buried so far below the surface of your awareness that it may cause you to have ongoing problems, and you will continue to binge and hate yourself despite your most sincere efforts.
Step 2: The desire/decision.
This refers to the moment you decide, "I want it. I'll have it." Once the craving to eat and eat without limit arises, you may decide to follow through immediately or later. I once counseled a man who decided during the day to binge, dreamed about what he would eat, but only acted out after dark!
Step 3: The act of overeating.
Binge eaters often don't even taste their food. They just stuff it in. Not all binge eaters gobble sweets. Some like salty, spicy or crunchy foods. Bulimics eat until they can't tolerate any more food and then binge or purge to get rid of what they ingested.
Step 4: The "Hangover."
After eating too much you will usually feel uncomfortable, sick to your stomach or nauseated.
Step 5: The Letdown
This a feeling of remorse and self-hatred that overwhelms you as you realize, "I did it again!" At the end of the binge you are left with misery, guilt and shame as you realize that nothing has changed.
Learn from each binge. After each binge episode, perform a Post Mortem examination of your binge. What can you learn from your behavior? Here are 2 simple questions to ask yourself:
• Who or what in my life is bothering me that I don't want to face?
• Who or what in my life do I feel helpless to change?
As you uncover and face the situations and relationships that are causing your super stress, you will be able to regain the power over your life and your food.
Take advantage of a free 15 minute phone consult with Gloria to discuss your compulsive eating problems.
Get a copy of her FREE ebook, Creating Happiness now.
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