The Origins of BED for me
Binge Eating Disorder or BED isn’t an eating disorder that’s addressed as much as Bulimia or Anorexia, so I wanted to share my story in short and the steps I took to recovery. I’m not even sure when I developed BED or when I actually fully recovered, but I know the origins had something to do with dieting at a really young age. Dieting can actually lead some people to develop BED. The cycle of restrict to the point where you can no longer deny yourself and and so you binge –goes on for long enough, that it becomes an actual habit. I think I struggled with BED for almost two decades.
You are not alone
Anyone who has BED can relate to the struggle of loss of control and feelings of guilt, discouragement, and shame associated with overeating to the point of discomfort. I was there. I’ve been there, and I’m here to tell you there is hope.
The solution involves channeling the power of the brain
The solution may seem overly simplistic, but it is still hard work. The truth is, and the beauty of it is, it’s as simple as creating new neuron pathways in the brain.
New habits replacing old habits
BED, simply put, is a bad habit. It’s so hard, nearly impossible, for the brain to stop a bad habit. The key is to create a new habit to take the place of the old habit (the binge). Instead of telling yourself I need to stop this, I have to stop this, you put into place a new action when you have the urge to binge. When that new action is repeated over and over and over again, you’ll have successfully recovered from BED by replacing one bad habit (the binge) with a new habit.
My exact steps to recovery
Recovery from BED is going to look so different for different people, but if you want to know the exact steps I did, I would recommend these resources:
- Read Brain Over Binge to understand the science of using the brain’s power to overcome BED.
- Join the Brain Over Binge Facebook group for accountability and support.
- Take this course on Udemy so you understand the power of neuroscience on habit formation/change.
- Choose the habit you’re going to put in place to take the place of the bad habit (the binge).
The new habit I chose to replace the old habit
Here’s where my story of recovery gets really crazy simple. Again it took effort and it was hard work, but the solution itself was simple.
For #4, the habit I put in place to take the place of my bad habit (the binge) was simply to plate all my meals.
How it looked like exactly
I did not eat out of containers or bags of chips. I did not put anything in my mouth before I plated my meal. Anything and everything I ate required me to first put everything on a plate in front of me before I started eating. I even put my drink and my dessert in front of me before I started eating. I forced myself to eat only what I had plated before I started eating. I forced myself not to eat anymore than what I had set out to eat. I could eat as much as I wanted no doubt, but I had to plate it first. If I wanted seconds, I had to choose those second helpings before I started eating and put it on my plate before I started eating. After I ate everything I had plated, I walked away right away and didn’t linger in the kitchen. I would take walks with my brother or get busy doing something else.
The freedom within these restraints
No kinds of food were off limits. I didn’t measure anything. I just put in front of me everything I decided I wanted to eat before I started eating. This was a hard and fast rule: Once I started to eat, I could not add anything to my meal that wasn’t already in front of me.
What was happening inside my brain
Plating my meals basically became the new good habit to take the place of my old bad habit (the binge).
Every day I did this new change (plating my meal) and every day I did it consecutively, my brain was physically changing itself! It was creating a whole new different neuron pathway. Eventually the neuron pathway was so strong, it created a new habit (plating my meal) to take the place of the old habit (the binge).
It’s like sledding pathways
I heard this example from one of the resources above- about how the brain is akin to sledding. The old habit is like a sledding pathway you’ve created simply by doing the act over and over again. It’s easiest for the brain to go through that same pathway. You can’t stand at the top of the hill and tell yourself don’t go sledding! You will go down the hill, it’s too tempting not to. But instead of going down that all too familiar path, all you have to do is make a new pathway that eventually, after more continued use, runs deeper and is more ingrained in the snow. Soon the other pathway will have snow to cover it over because you aren’t using it anymore. You have created and continue to go down the new pathway.
What my life looks like now
Even now fully recovered from BED many years, I still try to plate my meals as much as possible because I’ve learned that satiety is 100% emotional and not physical, at least for me. When I see everything I’m about to eat, I feel more satisfied by the end of the meal. I could take that same amount of food and just eat it in front of the tv, the fridge, at the counter, in the car and I promise it’s not going to feel as satisfying. These days, it’s safe for me to still nibble on other things after the meal here and there before I’m fully done with my meal, but the act of plating my meal at the onset really does increase my satiety and satisfaction with my meal sooo sooo much.
He comforts us so we can be a comfort to others
I’m so so thankful to God for helping me find these resources above and for helping me find such a simple solution for such a crippling disorder. I hope that this article can help someone else find their new habit solution too, even if it is different from mine. Just know I’m thinking about you right now and sending lots of hugs and encouragement. You’re not alone, and you’re going to see yourself to the other side of this. xoxo
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