This is a continuation of my previous blog post, 5 Thoughts that are Making You Binge, and How to Change Them.
When we binge or overeat, it is often because we entertain certain thoughts. These thoughts, however, are not true.
Here are 5 MORE examples of these types of thoughts, and how you can change them.
My eating hasn’t been perfect so I might as well binge
Thought: This is similar to the ‘I have blown it’ thought mentioned in the previous blog post, but this thought comes from a place of perfection. Perfectionism involves black and white, all or nothing thinking. This is when we believe that if we don’t do something perfectly, there is no point doing it at all.
This mindset is often applied to eating. For example, if we implement a food plan or food rules and we break these rules, we feel like we have failed. We then believe that there is no point continuing to follow the plan or rules at all.
How to change this thought: If we adopt a more flexible approach to eating and dispense with rigid food rules, then we will be able to eat something that we don’t consider to be ‘perfect’ and just move on with our day.
I can’t cope so I might as well binge
Does this sound familiar? It is common practice to turn to food to alleviate negative emotions. Yet, binging does not work as a coping mechanism. If we are feeling stressed and then binge, not only will we still feel stressed afterwards, we will also feel terrible from the mental and physical effects of the binge.
How to change this thought: When we are upset, we need to remind ourselves that binging won’t make anything better: in fact it will make us feel worse. Eating only improves our mood temporarily; or perhaps not at all since we don’t even enjoy the food if we are feeling guilty about eating it. Instead, we need to try and sit with the negative emotions, know that it is okay to feel these things, and that they will pass.
My weight has gone up
Thought: Sometimes, if our weight has increased, we think we might as well binge because we are already heavier.
How to change this thought: Smash the scale! Weighing yourself is never a good idea. Whether we have lost weight, gained weight, or stayed exactly the same, stepping onto the scales will cause anxiety or depression.
If our weight has increased we will panic; if it has decreased, we will either reward ourselves with eating, then restrict again; or we will panic trying to maintain it. If our weight is the same, then we will be afraid to eat in case our weight creeps up.
My weight has gone down
If we have restricted for a while, and our weight has decreased; or if we feel like we have been ‘good’ with our eating, then we might think that we can ‘reward’ ourselves by overeating, or treating ourselves to ‘forbidden’ foods. Afterwards, however, the feelings of guilt and regret will cause us to restrict, and once again we will be back in the binge / restrict cycle.
How to change this thought: Again, smash the scale and free yourself from being enslaved by a piece of metal and plastic!
I need to be stricter with my diet
Thought: With every new diet that we try, it becomes increasing difficult to lose weight. This is because chronic dieting leads to a decrease in the body’s metabolic rate and an increase in its set point weight. For more information on this topic, please see my blog post Why Diets Don’t Work.
Frustrated with the diet’s diminishing returns, we resolve to be stricter with our calorie intake, or the type of foods that we eat. Yet, the more you restrict, the harder your body will fight back. Therefore these tighter rules and deprivation backfire and lead to even bigger binges.
How to change this thought: In order to break this binge / restrict cycle, we need to ditch the diets and the food rules.
Instead, we need to permit all foods, and allow ourselves to eat as much as we want. This does not mean, however, that we won’t be able to stop eating: it will simply help to dispel the cravings and the urges to binge if we can reassure ourselves that the food is available any time that we want it.
If you find yourself thinking these types of thoughts, remind yourself that they are not true.
Follow the ‘how to change this thought’ advice above and know that it is within your power to eat, or not to eat.