Today, there is so much information and so many courses offered on how to stop binge eating. Everyone is selling their story, their fix, their solution. And it’s like diets. You know, if you go on this diet, eat this food this way, then you will lose this amount of weight, in this amount of time and of course you will look a certain way. Similarly, with binge eating. I’ve looked, researched, read, watched – you name it. If all these fixes and solutions worked then why are people out there still suffering? What is the missing link?
I think that with eating disorders in general, and binge eating in particular, the solution is multi-faceted. There is no one size fits all solution, and any solution requires many ways of solving the puzzle. So yes, it’s about looking at past experiences, your childhood, attachment theory, trauma, diet, lifestyle etc. BUT, I think that it is also important that emphasis be placed on looking at the brain, and how the brain works. When we understand how the brain works, we can understand that some aspects of eating disorders, and disordered eating can be rectified whilst other emotional traumas and problems can still remain. To some extent, we can separate the urge to binge as a habitual brain-based phenomenon, separate from our feeling, thinking self. I believe that in doing this, it allows us to not see ourselves as broken, damaged and needing to be fixed. It diminishes the shame that is often associated with binge eating and eating disorders.
Using a brain-based way of looking at binge eating, we can explain your binges as a way of coping with your urges, not as a solution to a problem or numbing out. This is a completely different way of seeing binge eating. If you binge eat because you feel lonely, eating and eating until you feel stuffed and sick, might distract you temporarily from the feeling of loneliness and give you a very short -term “high” from the increased sugar surge, but has it solved your problem? No. You are still lonely. The problem remains. The binge actually just helped solve the problem of the urge. Our urges are just the natural consequence of being a human and having a brain and living in a world that is obsessed with dieting, having a perfect body and so on.
Keeping just a brain-based way of looking at binge eating, so taking my psychologists hat off, which is hard, urges can then be viewed as habits that get wired in, and as the outcome of our evolutionary brain that is wired for survival. If we operate in this paradigm, we can work on our urges separately to the psychological stuff. Not to dismiss the psychological aspects of urges, or undermine the psychological drivers, but rather to understand urges differently so as to tackle them differently.
There is a wealth of information about neuroplasticity and the power we have to drive our own brain’s programming by what we choose to repeatedly do. With good psychotherapeutic support, learning the skills to dismiss the urges to binge, will help to weaken the neural pathways in your brain, and decrease the strength of those urges, and thus the habit to binge. In a comprehensive, supportive environment, you can regain a carefree, intuitive and healthy relationship with food, your body and yourself.