6 WAYS TO GET BACK ON TRACK AFTER A BINGE
“It takes one to know one.” A cliché, yes. But when it comes to bulimia and binge eating, it’s absolutely true. I suffered with ED for over 15 years, and now that I’ve recovered, I can spot it in someone else a mile away. There’s a big range within eating disorders. There’s the occasional binger at a party - you know, the guy or gal who lingers over the food, preferring to eat vs. interact. Or the one who binges on Taco Bell or giant bags of M&Ms after coming home from a night of heavy drinking (that was me!). Or the person who purges on a daily basis...or refuses to eat at a restaurant for fear of gaining weight...or insists on organic everything....or the over-exerciser...you get my drift!
My point: we’re all human. And whether you consider yourself ED recovered or are beginning your journey, setbacks happen! For instance, you may have had an extremely stressful day at work where all reason went through the roof and you ended up inhaling an entire bag of chips. These things happen! It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It doesn’t mean you’re defective. It doesn’t mean you lack will power or self-control. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re back at square one.
Here’s what it means: YOU HAD A SETBACK. That’s it. While we can sit here and analyze the emotional component behind the behavior – and that is certainly something I do with all of my clients —the focus of this article is about the aftermath. How to get back on track and feel your best post binge. And guess what? Even if you have a perfectly healthy relationship with food, there are times when we eat more than usual and just don’t feel as great. Personally, I think of the holidays. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, I go to town on food. That doesn’t mean I’m back at square one or that OMG, my eating disorder is back. It means I enjoyed food among company and savored every moment. Because that’s what a special occasion is all about! That said, I do feel “ick” sometimes. And if that’s happened to you, then here are my top 5 tips for undoing the post binge “ick” and moving forward.
So you binged - now what?
1 Don’t beat yourself up over it. This is the most important message yet. Okay, you ate more than usual. You might be feeling embarrassed, ashamed, or just mad at yourself. But get over it! It happened, and there is no point in wallowing in the past. Because in the grand scheme of things, you have a million more meals to eat in life, and this was just one that went awry. So big deal! You indulged. You lived. And you survived. The way I typically work through it is through positive affirmations, meaning, as cheesy as it sounds, talking to myself in a very lovingly way, "I am not defined by the food I ate. I enjoyed my food, I enjoyed the company, I lived my life, and now let me move forward and start feeling good again." The more positive self talk you can give yourself, the better. And ain't nothing cheesy about loving on yourself. So let’s move right along.
2 Eat a healthy breakfast. It’s tempting to think about eating less to compensate for a binge. But that’s not how it works. I recommend starting your day with a nutritious breakfast to keep you full and satiated throughout the day. This is especially true if you binged on sugary or salty foods. A proper breakfast is one that is balanced in terms of protein, carbs, and fats. A smart choice? Try some plain oatmeal then mix in a tablespoon of almond butter, and a handful of berries. Another really great idea is to make eggs any style, ½sweet potato, ½avocado, and some fruit. The point is, don’t continue a downward spiral by starting your day with a sugary Pop Tart.
3 Get your sweat on. This is hard for a lot of people because when you wake up post binge, you feel bloated, sluggish, and gross. I’m speaking from experience. But the best thing you can do for yourself is IGNORE those feelings, toss your gym clothes on, and go sweat. Don't’ feel like being around other people? No biggie. Lace up your tennies and go for a walk. The point is just to get your blood flowing and those good endorphins going again so that your mind shifts back into a more positive space. Exercise is not a punishment for what you ate; it’s for your mental well-being, and to make you feel physically strong. It’s also good for digestion. A sluggish body will make it difficult to release toxins.
4 Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You might be tempted to go for every caffeinated beverage in sight. I’m not one to tell you not to do anything, but I recommend limiting caffeine. Why? Because it’s a good idea to flush your body out! Water helps aid the digestive process, and it’s even more important after overindulging. So how much water you should drink daily? Again, every person is different, but I ALWAYS recommend more than the minimum 64oz daily. I need twice that amount, but just listen to your body. I also recommend drinking water even when you aren’t thirsty. Water helps keep you full, and helps you determine whether you’re hungry or just having a craving. If you drink water and 10 minutes later you’re still hungry, it’s hunger! Go eat some nutritious food!
5 Tell someone about what happened. I’m sure I’m losing almost all of you with this one. Because when we eat too much, whether in public or in private, we tend to feel shameful. The biggest part in my recovery journey happened when I dropped the shame and started being open about it. All. The. Time. Because trust me when I tell you that there is nothingto be ashamed of. So you’re struggling with food. Let others in! They might not have any answers and that’s okay - the healing (and making smarter choices) is simply in the sharing.
6 And last, but certainly not least, don’t weigh yourself. Or toss that scale away all together. One, you aren’t defined by numbers on a scale, and two, what BENEFIT could possibly come from weighing yourself post binge? Nada, so don’t go there. Instead, focus on the steps above, practice self-compassion, and think about moving forward.
I hope these tips have helped. Have others that have worked for you? Share by leaving a comment!