Here are three mind hacks that got me through the last couple of months when things started feeling heavy, depression knocked at my door, and my eating habits threatened to set me back.
- ‘No Restriction’ instead of ‘Overeating’
When I’ve eaten too much or eaten too much of the foods that I used to binge on, it’s easy to feel like I’m slipping back into old unwanted habits. That feeling causes me to beat myself up, which often leads to restricting or compensating – an even steeper slippery slope to old behaviours.
Instead, I’ve been changing my thoughts and the words I use about overeating. Rather than verbally beating myself up for eating too much, or getting scared about falling into a binge, I’ll celebrate my ability to eat without restriction. It’s amazing the difference it makes; I stop eating sooner than if I allowed my fear to drive my behaviour.
It’s certainly a blurred line between bingeing and overeating, but I believe the difference is more about mindset and thought patterns than it is about behaviour and actions.
2. Leave some until tomorrow
Trapped in the binge-restrict cycle of BED meant that leaving any food (especially ‘forbidden’ or ‘bad’ foods) until tomorrow, was a definite no-no!! Tomorrow was always the fresh start at eating perfectly so there couldn’t be any unwanted food left hanging around to the next day.
Even if my stomach said no, my desire to start tomorrow with a clean slate, overwrote those whispers telling me to stop and I’d finish what was left as quickly as possible.
Now when I feel like I’ve overeaten, I’ll leave some until tomorrow, no matter how small that amount might be. Mentally it strengthens me and reminds me that I am no longer controlled by food, an eating disorder or its accompanying thought patterns.
3. I’ve healed my mind, now on to my body
Body Image is not my Appearance – one of the most important lessons I learned through my therapy treatment. Understanding that I could improve my body image without having to change my appearance, was something I wanted to be true but still doubted. Ten months into recovery I can now look in the mirror, dislike my appearance but still love myself. I can encounter my body without feeling physically sick and accept myself right where I am on my recovery journey, even with weight gain.
Now that the healing in my mind has improved my body image, it’s easier to look at my body objectively, without judgement, and commit to healing that too.
Rather than feeling overwhelmed, disgusted and disappointed with the reflection in the mirror, I can take a deep breath, feel proud of the healing I’ve done so far, and confidently face the next phase. I’ve got this far, so there’s no reason why I can’t continue.
These hacks remind me that Binge Eating Disorder earns it’s right to be a diagnosable mental illness and not just an ‘eat less and exercise more’ weight problem.
Maintaining recovery from BED has been less about what or how I’m eating and more about retraining my thoughts.
Weight loss is still one of my goals, a personal decision for me, but how I go about it and the thought process that now drives that pursuit, is very different to what it used to be. I quickly recognise the diet culture mentality rearing its ugly head and immediately do something like eat a previously ‘forbidden’ food – that’s my way of saying, I see you and I’m no longer controlled by you.
Maintaining BED recovery requires hacks like those shared above, but what I’m learning is that whilst the Binge Eating Disorder recovery guide provided ten helpful tips for recovery, maintenance isn’t as prescriptive, and it’s shaped individually. These worked for me and maybe they’ll work for you too, but the most important thing is that we all make this process our own. That’s what has got me this far.