How do you resist the urge to binge?
Updated: Aug 16, 2022
I know that feeling very well because I experienced it for 15 years. I'd get these urges to binge and I wouldn't know how to resist it. And so the easiest thing is to always just give in, it's the least path of resistance, right? Even though after the event it definitely didn't seem like the least path of resistance because now you've got to deal with all the shame, the guilt, all those feelings of self hatred, and low self-worth - and whatever else that you are feeling - is what comes afterwards.
But at the time it seems like the least path of resistance because the easiest thing to do is to just give in, and if I could speak to my younger self, I would tell her that if she looks within and addresses the root cause then she won't feel the need to binge anymore. And it's 100% the best thing to do, because then you heal the cause of the symptoms, the symptoms being binging, purging, anxiety, stress, all the compulsive behaviors, whatever it is - these are all SYMPTOMS. They're symptoms of a dysregulated nervous system, which is then causing overreactions in the external world because of what's happening in the internal world. So if you address the root cause, then the symptoms, AKA, the binging in this particular case, will go away.
If you address the root cause, then the symptoms, AKA, the binging in this particular case, will go away
Now I know it's not always easy to address the root cause, or to even know what the root cause is, or to even understand the impact something that may have seemed like a small thing to you now, can have in your life. So if you're not able to heal the root cause, then just sit with it. I know that's not what you want to hear, you want some fast solution to resist the urge. But the only way out is through. So sit with it. Sit with that urge, sit with that feeling, sit with that anxiety, that discomfort. Acknowledge how it makes you feel. Does it make you feel nervous? Does it make you feel anxious? Does it make you feel sad? Maybe it makes you feel angry.
What is it that you're feeling? Do you want to cry? Do you want to scream? Do you want to punch something? We all have different feelings that are boiling up and bubbling inside of us. So just sit with that feeling because that binging is masking something else. So when we have an urge to binge, we want to find out and get really curious about what are we actually feeling. And if we didn't cover up that feeling with binging, what would it be? Is it loneliness? Is it boredom? But what's underlying the loneliness. What's underlying the boredom. So sit with whatever is coming up, whatever feelings are coming up and just feel them and get really, really comfortable with that uncomfortable feeling. Get really familiar with it, get to know it, understand it, but most of all, FEEL IT, because binging is allowing you to avoid that feeling. And we don't want to avoid that feeling because if you simply avoid that feeling, it's not going to go away. It's going to keep coming back over and over and over again. So then what will happen is you'll be constantly getting that urge to binge over and over and over again.
What resists, persists. You have to feel it to heal it.
So what you're resisting will keep persisting, and you have to feel it to heal it. If you don't allow yourself to feel, if you don't allow these feelings to come up and out of you, you can't heal them. So that's what I encourage you to do. Sit with it, sit with the feelings, get curious about them, explore them and release them, whatever they are.
So what can you do when you're sitting in that discomfort, trying to get comfortable? The most important thing to do is just breathe. And obviously you're breathing anyway, at least I hope you are because some people actually freeze, they stop breathing. And I've noticed that sometimes with myself is I forget to breathe, because I'm really anxious about something, or whatever it is. So breathe with intention, and what does that mean? Well, that means do really intentional, deep belly breaths. So none of this chest breathing that a lot of people get really used to. What I want you to do is to do deep, intentional, belly breathing. When you are deep belly breathing, what happens when you inhale is your belly actually expands. And then when you exhale your belly actually contracts. There are different methods of intentional breathing:
4, 7, 8 breath - inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts, exhale for 8 counts.
7,11 breath - inhale for 7 counts, exhale for 8 counts.
So if you keep doing that for three to five breaths it will actually calm down your whole nervous system. and get your nervous system into a parasympathetic state, which a rest and digest state. It'll get you feeling calm and at ease. If you can just keep doing that until the binge urge passes, then you can get to the other side and move on with your day. And I know, it'll come back again, so the trick is just to keep riding those urges, riding those waves, breathing through them, sitting with the feeling... feeling it, releasing it. Sit with that discomfort, breathe through it, and let it pass and repeat doing that over and over and over again until your body has gotten used to this way of managing those symptoms.
I know it's not comfortable, I know the easiest thing to do is to binge.
If you're unable to just sit with it and breathe, then do something to shift the energy. I know some people recommend reading or putting on a movie, but these things aren't actually shifting your energy, they're not shifting your state. So I recommend doing something physical like shaking it out, putting on some high vibe music and dancing it out, shadow boxing, stamping your feet, yoga or active breathwork (which is different to the breathing techniques I recommended above).
So to sum it all up, how do you resist the urge to binge? Sit with it, sit with the feeling, breathe through it, get comfortable with the discomfort, allow whatever's going on inside to come up and be released. Allow it to pass. That's my number one tip.